Launched before the end of 2021, the Toyota Corolla Cross is the rightful product following the brand’s  R2.6-billion investment in its Prospection Plant in KZN.

It took the market segment by storm thus giving serious contenders strong competition to catch up to. When we drove it at the launch, it displayed a positive attitude in every aspect while following the brand’s maturity recipe and it worked.

With that said, the Corolla Cross has walked away with the 2022 Car of The Year title after competing with over 49 vehicles and eight segments. This is not the first time the Corolla nameplate has emerged victorious in the said competition.

The first front-wheel-drive Corolla launched in 1984 won the inaugural SA Guild of Motoring Journalists’ Car of the Year award in 1986 and three years later, the GLi Twin Cam 16 Executive scooped the same award in 1989.  “Although we saw the competition develop and grow over the past 36 years with introducing category winners, additional categories, automated scoring, the public’s favourite and Juror’s Excellence Award, one thing did not change – the exceptional contenders and their proud makers,” says Carl Wepener, Chairman of the South African Guild of Mobility Journalists.

How big is the Corolla Cross?

It’s worth noting that it’s built on the same TNGA platform that underpins the C-HR, Prius, RAV4 and 12th-gen Corolla cars. It measures 4,460 mm in length, and 1,825 mm in width and sits 1,620 mm high.

With the dimensions, it is not short of any cabin space, there is remarkable head and legroom with the boot space measuring good 440 litres which can be expanded, thanks to the foldable 60:40 split rear seats.

Inside, it spawns a near-identical interior like most models in the Toyota lineup with an impressive air of quality to it. It is also equipped with impressive tech and a touchscreen infotainment system that’s compatible with Apple CarPlay, Android Auto and Toyota Connect.

Sold in three trim levels, the Corolla Cross features an elegant design with the front end dominated by a trapezoidal radiator grille, large headlights, and a broad lower bumper with vertical accent lines as well as fender flares. The rear meanwhile, is fitted with large elliptical taillights with trapezoidal detailing. Toyota’s entry-level Xi and Xs models make do with 17” alloy wheels shod with 215/60/R17 tyres while the range-topping Xr features 18″ alloys and 225/50/R18 tyres.

Corolla Cross Frontview in Red

How does it drive?

Powering the entire Toyota Corolla Cross range are two engine choices; a naturally-aspirated 1.8-litre four-cylinder unit or a 1.8-litre petrol-electric hybrid. The former produces 103 kW and 172 Nm while the latter produces 90 kW and 163 Nm.

While the engine’s performance doesn’t send chills down your spine, it delivers acceptable shove when on the go. The CVT transmission on the other hand remains positively impressive under normal driving situations, yet it tends to go gear hunting under intent acceleration. In terms of the ride quality, it’s safe to say that those who put comfort on top of the list of things they want in a car will be satisfied.

Warranty and Pricing

The range-opening Corolla Cross Xi is priced at R349,900, R390,100 for the Xs and R425,400 for the XR. The Xs Hybrid carries a price tag of R413,000 while the range-topping XR Hybrid is priced at R448,300. A six-service/90 000 km service plan is standard on all Corolla Cross models with a three-year/100 000 km warranty that’s also included.

The hybrid model carries an eight-year warranty on the battery. Additional service and warranty plan extensions can be purchased from your nearest Toyota dealer.

Verdict

The Toyota Corolla Cross makes a name for itself in an era where almost every manufacturer wants a piece of the SUV pie. It handles and showcases itself in a stellar way to further prove why it won the COTY title once again.

What We Like: Buyable, frugal than rivals, excellent overall built quality

What We Don’t Like: CVT is still not great