Car Buyer Labs

Car Buying Advice, Tips, and Reviews

A yellow 2023 Toyota Corolla Cross Hybrid XSE is shown parked on the street.

Is the Corolla Cross Worth It?

As a proud Corolla owner, I was pretty happy to hear that Toyota morphed this bestselling vehicle into an SUV. I’ve always been satisfied with my Corolla—it’s affordable, reliable, and delivers me from Point A to Point B with absolutely no issues… ever. Over the years, I’ve wondered whether or not I should make the switch to an SUV, so naturally, I was intrigued when the Corolla Cross came out last year. Originally situated right between the now defunct subcompact C-HR and the slightly larger RAV4, many drivers wondered if the Corolla Cross was even necessary. Now in its second year of production, the 2023 Toyota Corolla Cross is quickly proving naysayers wrong, especially with all of the enhancements that have been made just one year after hitting the streets.

The Ride

The compact Corolla Cross is powered by a 2.0L four-cylinder engine, pumping out 169 hp, which is what you’d expect from such a practical vehicle. It’s not the quickest off the line, but it delivers a smooth and refined ride thanks to its Continuously Variable Transmission. New this year, which has drivers even more jazzed, is the addition of a hybrid powertrain to deliver even greater efficiency for this reliable commuter. Everyone knows that the Corolla is highly efficient, so being able to maximize its fuel economy in SUV form is the icing on the cake. Getting up to an estimated 37 MPG of combined fuel efficiency, the Corolla Cross Hybrid proves to be a dutiful daily driver; that’s exactly the point of getting a Corolla model to begin with, right?
In addition, the Corolla Cross can be equipped with All-Wheel Drive (AWD) capability, which comes standard on Hybrid models. Now you won’t have to worry as much about slush and snow or bumps along the way, which is something you won’t find with the sedan version. Corolla fans will also like the fact that the Corolla Cross sits much higher than the sedan, which provides better visibility. Many drivers are under the impression that the Corolla Cross is just a taller version of the Corolla. Although it exhibits many of the same attributes—reliability, safety, and a smooth ride—it’s a model all its own, delivering the confident and efficient driving experience that you would expect from the Toyota brand.

The black interior and dash of a 2023 Toyota Corolla Cross is shown.


The Cabin Experience

The Corolla Cross is a compact crossover SUV, which means that if you’re looking for boatloads of room, you’ll probably want to consider a larger option. That being said, the Corolla Cross boasts favorable space for its class, with plenty of comfortable appointments and a nice amount of legroom, even in the backseat. Models like the Corolla Cross are typically used by daily commuters or those frequently traveling alone, which means that an abundance of extra room isn’t entirely necessary. Still, the Corolla Cross prioritizes your comfort on the road, and with even more trim levels available for 2023, I love having so many options.
Drivers who prioritize affordability have always gravitated toward vehicles like the Corolla; that doesn’t mean you need to skimp on features just because you’re saving money on your car. The 2023 Corolla Cross offers plenty of desirable features found in top-tier models, including SofTex-trimmed seating, heated front seats, and an available power tilt/slide moonroof to set a fun tone for your daily drive. If space is a concern, you can rest assured that the Corolla Cross has you covered in this area as well, with 60/40 split fold-down rear seats and up to 66.8 cu.ft. of total cargo space. If there’s one thing about the Corolla you should know, it’s that it can handle more than you think. I once fit an entire spin bike in the back of my Corolla sedan with no trouble whatsoever, so you probably won’t have any issues with the SUV version.

The Tech

From safety to entertainment, SUVs today are loaded with everything you could think of to make the drive better. The 2023 Corolla Cross is no different, with even more tech than before to enhance your journey. New this year is an upgraded Infotainment system with an 8-inch touchscreen that’s prevalent across all trim levels. Tap and swipe your way to maximum connectivity with this innovative display, while having access to Apple CarPlay, Android Auto, and more standard features to elevate your drive. Available Qi wireless charging capabilities plus Remote Connect features, which allow you to start your car from your smartwatch, make it easy to take any type of trip in the Corolla Cross.
You may feel apprehensive about expertly maneuvering into streetside parking spaces, but if you’re driving the Corolla Cross, you won’t have to worry about that. With Front and Rear Parking Assist available, the Corolla Cross takes care of the tough stuff while you look like a parking pro to onlookers. Of course, in true Toyota fashion, the 2023 Corolla Cross is armed with one of the best safety suites in the biz: Toyota Safety Sense 3.0. From Road Sign Assistance to Pedestrian Detection, Lane Tracing Assist, and Full-Speed Range Dynamic Radar Cruise Control, the Corolla Cross has everything you need to remain in total control of your ride.

A blue 2023 Toyota Corolla Cross is shown driving.

Corolla Cross vs. RAV4

Before the Corolla Cross was in the picture, I figured the next car I would buy would be the RAV4. At that time, it was the obvious choice since I have always enjoyed driving smaller vehicles. Now, however, with the Corolla Cross out there, like many drivers I’m interested to know how these two compare. Well, the obvious difference is the fact that the Corolla Cross is smaller, so if you’re used to driving small vehicles—like I am—then this is especially appealing. The Corolla Cross also doesn’t have as many trims to choose from, but if you’ve ever taken a look at all the options you have with the RAV4, it’s safe to say the options can be a bit overwhelming.
Both the Corolla Cross and RAV4 have hybrid offerings designed to appeal to drivers who prioritize efficiency, and both offer AWD. Although the RAV4 is bigger, it doesn’t utilize this extra space for as much cargo as drivers might assume, instead dedicating this space for more passenger room. This results in the RAV4 only offering slightly more cargo space (without the rear seats folded) than the Corolla Cross. In the end, if you want a compact vehicle that’s easy to drive and offers plenty of space, both the Corolla Cross and RAV4 deliver, but the RAV4 is going to be slightly more cumbersome to operate.

2023 Corolla Cross: Is It Right for You?

Since we can see that the Corolla Cross isn’t just a larger version of the Corolla, what are your thoughts? As this model gains traction, it’s only natural that we’ll be seeing more of them on road around us. Drivers like to stick with what’s known and familiar; pretty much every driver has heard of the Corolla, which means the Corolla Cross is most likely destined for success. It’s armed with all of the features I love about the Corolla, blended seamlessly with the aspects that have made SUVs and crossovers so popular, like more space, a better driving position, and enhanced style and tech features.
If you’re on the hunt for a small SUV, you’ll definitely want to check out the Corolla Cross, especially if you’ve enjoyed a Corolla in the past. From its compact size, which makes it easy to maneuver through any driving scenario, to its spacious and accommodating cabin, perfect for the everyday commuter, the Corolla Cross checks all the boxes on daily drivers’ wishlists. When you want to enjoy an affordable, reliable, safe, and efficient crossover, the Corolla Cross is quick to show you why it belongs on the streets, showcasing a ride that’s marked by Toyota’s reputation for automotive excellence.