Updated: Apr 1, 2022
If you had asked me, I'd have told you.
From the day I first read that Toyota was bringing the Corolla Cross to market until the day before one showed up in my driveway, I'd have told you.
I'd have been wrong.
The 2022 Toyota Corolla Cross is one of those vehicles that you don't know the world needs until you drive it, and then you realize that this isn't just filling a gap---it's identifying a sweet spot.
In archery, you aim for the middle of the target. And it turns out that the space in between the C-HR and the current RAV4----is just about where most people expect the RAV4 to be. And as RAV4s have gotten bigger and more expensive, the opportunity for a traditionally-styled five-seat compact SUV that starts at about $22,000, but can be had loaded with all-wheel drive for the low 30s is there.
No need to explain quirkiness like the C-HR, no need to explain why the price tag on the RAV4 is $40K----or $50K if they see the sticker on a RAV4 Prime. I wish I'd thought of that.
Zero surprises under the hood---a 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine with variable valve timing. 169 horsepower fed, in the case of our AWD tester, to all four wheels through a continuously variable transmission. Fast? No. Sixty comes from a standing start after 9.2 seconds, but nobody's buying a small Toyota crossover to blow the doors off the neighbor's car. Fuel economy? There's a number you can talk about....29 city/32 highway.
Room for five people, a decent amount of stuff, in a clean, modern cabin that doesn't look poverty-spec. In top-of-the-line XLE trim with all-wheel drive, the base price is $27,625. The window sticker is at the end of this review so you can see for yourself, but among the standard equipment highlights at that price are Toyota's Safety Sense 2.0 active safety suite, a six-speaker audio system, wireless smartphone charging and dual-zone automatic climate control.
If you stopped right there, you'd have a nicely equipped small all-wheel drive SUV for 13 grand less than the average price of a new car this year. And there's zero shame in doing that.
The Toyota press fleet folks, though, wanted to show just how luxe this Corolla Cross can be, so they added extra-cost options including a 9-speaker JBL premium audio system and security alarm ($1,465). A tilt & slide moonroof and power liftgate ($1,250), auto-level adaptive front lighting ($615), carpeted floor mats and cargo mat ($249), a frameless HomeLink mirror ($175), door sill protectors ($179), cross bars ($299), a rear bumper protector ($79) and an activity mount ($399). With $1,215 delivery processing and handling fee, the as-tested price of the 2022 Toyota Corolla Cross XLE AWD is $33,550.
Truth be told, at that price you're bumping up against a RAV4 XLE with the convenience, weather and audio package---in fact, the RAV4 might be a few bucks less. But restrain the option impulse and you can bring a 2022 Toyota Corolla Cross XLE AWD in under $30,000.