The small SUV segment continues to get more crowded as automakers appeal to would be compact sedan buyers. Nearly every mainstream automaker offers one, but now Toyota has introduced the segment’s stand out – the 2023 Corolla Cross hybrid. The Corolla Cross hybrid is the only small hybrid SUV you can currently get. With a 42 mpg combined rating and more power than the regular Corolla Cross hybrid, this small SUV is hard to beat.
The 2023 Corolla Cross hybrid is based on the regular Corolla Cross, which we only have lukewarm feelings about, mainly due to its underwhelming powertrain. The good news is that the Corolla Cross hybrid not only saves more fuel, but it’s also more powerful than the regular version.
The Corolla Cross hybrid, gets Toyota’s fifth-generation hybrid powertrain, which is also in the 2023 Prius. The hybrid is powered by a 2.0-liter Atkinson-cycle four-cylinder and two electric motors at the front, while a third motor powers the rear wheels. The powertrain generates a combined 196 horsepower, which is a nice increase over the 169 hp you get with the regular version.
That extra power gets the Corolla Cross hybrid to 60 mph in eight seconds, making it one of the quickest models in the segment. That 0-60 mph time may not look that impressive, but it’s definitely has more of a punch than the Honda HR-V, one of its main rivals. The addition of the electric motors also gets you moving from a stop in a much more acceptable time than the nonhybrid version. Accelerating onto a highway is also less scary than it is in the regular version. If you want something with more power, there’s the Kia Seltos or Mazda CX-30, but that extra power will mean you’ll need to make more stops at the gas station.
The regular Corolla Cross suffers in the noise department when the engine is pushed hard and that seems to be a similar issue with the hybrid. Noise issues aside, the Corolla Cross hybrid is a zippy small SUV that is far more fun to drive than the regular version. A sport tuned suspension comes standard, but we would use the word “sport” loosely here, since the suspension doesn’t make it as fun to drive as the CX-30. The steering is pretty vague too, which improves slightly in sport mode. Fortunately most buyers in this segment will care more about how fuel efficiency than a sporty SUV.
It’s rated at 45 mpg city, 38 mpg highway and 42 mpg combined, which is a nice improvement over the regular Corolla Cross AWD model with its 29/32/30 mpg rating.
On the outside, the hybrid is nearly identical to the regular version, but there are some small differences. The Corolla Cross hybrid gets a different grille and a revised lower front fascia to give it a sportier look. Black badging also helps it stand out slightly more. Inside the interior is basically the same as the regular version, with the exception of different upholstery. Unfortunately the interior airs on the boring side, compared to the Honda HR-V and Mazda CX-30, which both offer a more premium cabin.
Interior space is adequate, but just like the regular version, taller passengers in the rear will rub their knees against the front seats. 32 inches of rear legroom pales in comparison to the 37 inches of leg space in the HR-V. At the rear there’s 21.5 cubic feet of cargo space with the rear seats up, which grows to
On the tech side, the Corolla Cross hybrid comes standard with an eight-inch touchscreen that uses Toyota’s latest infotainment system. The top XSE trim level gets a digital gauge cluster, while the S and SE trims get a less modern looking analog gauges. On the safety front, the Corolla Cross hybrid comes standard with Toyota Safety Sense 3.0, which includes automatic emergency braking, adaptive cruise control, lane departure warning, lane keeping assist, automatic high beams and traffic sign detection. The SE and XSE trims add blind-spot monitoring and rear-cross traffic alert.
The 2023 Toyota Corolla Cross hybrid will go on sale in June and its pricing starts at $29,305, including the destination charge. It’s available in three trim levels: S, SE and XSE. The SE trim level starts at $30,625 and the XSE is priced at $32,400. That means that the Corolla Cross hybrid has a about a $4,000 premium over the regular version. That price might seem steep if you’re just looking at your fuel savings, but you also have to factor in the extra horsepower, which makes it a bit more fun to drive than the regular version.
The S and SE trim levels come standard with 17-inch Alloy wheels, an 8-inch touchscreen, a sport-tuned suspension, LED headlamps and smart key access. The SE trim level adds privacy glass, roof rails and paddle shifters, a blind-spot monitor and rear cross traffic alert. The XSE grade adds 18-inch alloy wheels, premium LED head lamps, taillamps and fog lamps, Softex-trimmed seats, heated front seats and a power driver’s seat.
At the end of the day, since a hybrid is currently rare in the small SUV segment, the Corolla Cross hybrid is going to easily win over buyers. It’s also easily the best version in the Corolla Cross lineup. A more fuel efficient powertrain, sportier styling and a slightly more engaging driving experience make the Corolla Cross a stand out.