Toyota Takes Corolla to the ‘Truck’ Side

The 2022 Corolla Cross extends Toyota’s gold-standard Corolla nameplate into the SUV market.

The 2022 Corolla Cross uses the TNGA-C architecture of the Corolla sedan/hatchback. (Toyota)

With a globally revered nameplate in the Corolla sedan – but global buyers gravitating to SUVs – Toyota arrived at the marketing solution that’s been rumored for some time, revealing the 2022 Corolla Cross compact SUV at a media event at its U.S. headquarters in Plano, Texas. Launching in the U.S. “later this year” according to Toyota executives (the Cross has been on sale for some time in several Asia markets), the Corolla Cross leverages nearly all of the Corolla’s TNGA-C (Toyota New Global Architecture - compact) platform and running gear. Unlike the Corolla sedan/hatchback, however, the new Cross will be available with all-wheel drive (AWD).

A 3-in. higher ground clearance may be the most noticeable aspect of the new Corolla Cross’ profile when compared with the current Corolla hatchback. (Toyota)

The 2022 Corolla Cross features some departures from the Corolla’s application of TNGA-C.The front-wheel-drive (FWD) variants have a torsion beam rear axle, whereas the current Corolla sedan/hatchback have independent rear suspension, which comes only with AWD variants of the Corolla Cross. Dimensionally, the Cross’ 103.9-in. (2639 mm) wheelbase is notably shorter than the 106.3-in. (2700-mm) wheelbase for the sedan, and the Cross, at 175.6 in. (4460 mm) overall length, is 6.7 in. (170 mm) shorter than the sedan.

The Corolla Cross is powered by the same 2.0-L 4-cyl. that serves as the upgrade engine in the existing Corolla lineup. (Toyota)
The Corolla Cross is the first Corolla-badged model to offer all-wheel drive. (Toyota)

The new Corolla Cross sits markedly higher than its sedan and hatchback counterparts. Ground clearance for the Cross is 8.1 in. (206 mm), versus 5.1 in. (130 mm) for the Corolla sedan and hatchback. The compact SUV is positioned between the CH-R and RAV4, Toyota executives said.

The Corolla Cross will be Toyota’s first vehicle built at its new assembly plant in Huntsville, Alabama, a joint-venture facility shared with Mazda. A Toyota executive told the media the company expects some 100,000 sales of the Corolla Cross in its first full year in the market, accounting for roughly one-third of the projected sales mix for the Corolla nameplate.

2.0-L engine, modest towing

The 2022 Corolla Cross is powered by the upgrade engine in the Corolla lineup, a 2.0-L DOHC I-4 that develops 169 hp and 150 lb-ft (203 Nm), mated with Toyota’s “Direct Shift” continuously variable transmission (CVT). The Dynamic Torque Control AWD system can direct as much as 50% of drive torque to the rear wheels or completely disconnect when not required. Toyota said the disengage function helps the Corolla Cross achieve its estimated 29 mpg city/32 mpg highway fuel economy rating, which is a few mpg short of the Corolla sedan. A Toyota marketing executive indicated a hybrid-electric powertrain could be expected as soon as 2022.

Toyota projects class-leading cargo space for the 2022 Corolla Cross. (Toyota)

At 3325 lb (1508 kg), the heaviest version of 2022 Corolla Cross, the XLE with AWD, is 175 lb (79.4 kg) heavier than the corresponding FWD Corolla hatchback. The Corolla Cross is the only Corolla variant rated to tow, with a 1,500-lb (680 kg) maximum.

All three Corolla Cross trim levels – L, LE, XLE – come standard with both the Toyota Safety Sense suite of electronic active safety systems; Blind Spot Monitoring and Rear Cross-Traffic Alert come standard on LE and XLE and front and rear parking assist (with automatic braking) is standard for the top XLE trim.