2023 Toyota Corolla Cross Hybrid Premium 2.0 Review : A Higher driver desire

By Clifford Chow, 13 July 2023

2023 Toyota Corolla Cross Hybrid Premium 2.0 Review : A Higher driver desire

Singapore - You know that buyer preferences have truly changed, when an industry staple becomes an SUV. So that is what happened to the iconic Toyota Corolla. Don’t get me wrong. The Corolla sedan still exists, but SUVs are the ones currently getting more attention. 

There is little in terms of styling to tell that Toyota’s compact SUV is part of the Corolla family. Instead its front-end, while I can identify as an attempt to feed more aggro in its design direction, instead channels the face of Mojo Jojo... Moaaajo Jo-jo! That said, the rest of Toyota’s compact SUV is quite easy on the eyes. 

Well, of-course you have to ensure that it looks all SUV-ish, so Toyota Corolla Cross comes with adventure-inspired squared-off black plastic wheel wheel arches (like in the Yaris Cross and RAV4, and for that added emphasis that it can effortlessly trudge through the (urban) jungle, the bumpers show a hint of imitation skid plates moulded onto their bases.

While the adventure-themed exterior will win some over, the conservative interior could use an injection of quality for its materials, and also perhaps some colour. The dash which has plenty of carry-overs from the Corolla Sedan, include the multi-button steering wheel, air-conditioning switchgear and air-vents. I appreciate that Toyota included a full digital 12.3-inch instrument driver display, which can be customised to a certain extent; where I find some of the graphics actually attractive. The multimedia infotainment touchscreen which sits above the middle air-conditioning vents, supports both Apple CarPlay (wireless) and Android Auto (wired). However, the screen, and its interface does come across as feeling a little aftermarket-ish. A wireless charger is standard equipment, though it is a tad too tiny to fit larger mobile phones.

Dashboard build aside, I have to give credit to Toyota for ensuring that the front seats are comfortable and welcoming, which is great, especially after a long day at work. The rear is surprisingly a good place to be seated too, and I dare say that it would not be too much of a squeeze to fit three abreast.

2023 Toyota Corolla Cross Hybrid Premium 2.0 Singapore - Boot
2023 Toyota Corolla Cross Hybrid Premium 2.0 Singapore - Boot

The boot is decently-sized, though at 425 litres, is interestingly smaller than its sedan sibling. But thanks to its large aperture, loading is easy, even though the boot board does not align with the boot lip. If you need more room, the rear seats fold in 60:40 fashion, upping space to 1200 litres, but the rear seats still leave a huge kerb behind, which greatly affects versatility.

As with most similar-sized SUVs, driver assistance tech and safety have become an important factor. The Corolla Cross does not disappoint with its latest version of the Toyota Safety Sense suite, providing features such as adaptive cruise control, automatic emergency braking, a 360-degree parking camera and automatic high beams. Stuff you’d find in brands with premium badges.

2023 Toyota Corolla Cross Hybrid Premium 2.0 Singapore - Driven
2023 Toyota Corolla Cross Hybrid Premium 2.0 Singapore - Driven

The Corolla Cross here (officially) comes with a 2-litre Dynamic Force engine, which is paired with their eCVT Hybrid drivetrain, powering the front wheels. The hybrid transmission, when paired with the engine, puts out a system power of 196hp and 206Nm of torque. 

As much as I have described the SUV being rather bland, the fuel-saving hybrid drive system is the tech which could probably easily win people over. The electric motor does the work when taking off, which is where plenty of our fuel tends to get burned. This makes the Corolla Cross well-suited for our urban driving conditions, where you’d experience generally more start-stop traffic. After a few runs, I tallied 18km/l, which is not far from Toyota’s official figures of 18.8km/l. 

2023 Toyota Corolla Cross Hybrid Premium 2.0 Singapore - Driven
2023 Toyota Corolla Cross Hybrid Premium 2.0 Singapore - Driven

So while all is good with how the Corolla Cross sips fuel, it does not drive as well as I hoped it would, despite sharing plenty with the Corolla Sedan. It feels clumsy once you put it into a bend, and this is even when you are not being quick. The steering, which I find too light and too numb, returns very little in terms of feedback. All of this blunts what is a rather decent-riding SUV, turning the ownership experience into something which I feel is quite average.

But is it worth buying?

Sure, the Corolla Cross’ interior quality would pale when compared to similar-size vehicles like the Mazda CX-5, Subaru Forester and the Nissan Qashqai. But if you are keen on making the most out of each tank of fuel, the Toyota’s bulletproof hybrid drivetrain is pretty difficult to beat.

TEXT & PHOTOS Clifford Chow

2023 Toyota Corolla Cross Hybrid Premium 2.0

Engine 1,987cc, inline 4
Power/rpm (Engine) 150hp/6000rpm
Power/rpm (Motor) 11hp
Torque/rpm 190Nm/5,200rpm
Transmission eCVT
0-100km/h 7.7secs
Top Speed 180km/h
Fuel Consumption 5.3l/100km

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