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2023 Toyota Corolla Cross Hybrid|2023 Toyota Corolla Cross Hybrid|2023 Toyota Corolla Cross Hybrid|2023 Toyota Corolla Cross Hybrid|2023 Toyota Corolla Cross Hybrid|2023 Toyota Corolla Cross Hybrid interior

2023 Toyota Corolla Cross Hybrid First Drive

It turns out that sometimes, being powered by a Prius powertrain is good. Case in point: the new Corolla Cross Hybrid shares its new eAWD hybrid system with the new Prius. Although rated for 42 MPG, we managed to average 50 MPG without trying terribly hard. Highway numbers should fall closer to 40 MPG, but any way you slice it, the new Corolla Cross Hybrid is an interesting alternative to the best-selling Crosstrek. It offers more power and significantly better fuel economy in a more boxy package.


To differentiate the Corolla Cross Hybrid from the standard model, Toyota gave it a completely different nose job. Instead of the mini-RAV4 upper grille, there’s a larger lower grille with black surrounds and a narrow upper section with a sort of pouting lip that houses the Toyota emblem. There are also unique wheel designs and two-tone paint colors that help give the Hybrid a far sportier vibe than its gas-only counterpart.

2023 Toyota Corolla Cross Hybrid


2023 Toyota Corolla Cross Hybrid

Around back, you can see that nothing drastic changes over the gas model. Like the Prius Prime, the Corolla Cross Hybrid is marketed as the sportier alternative to its standard version, so here you only have SE and XSE trims with blacked-out badging. The lower rear fascia and the taillight housings have been ever so slightly tweaked as well.


Inside, not much has changed for 2023 aside from the new Toyota Audio Multimedia system and updated graphics for the instrument cluster to accompany it. The screen sizes remain the same, though wireless Apple CarPlay and Android Auto are standard. Because of the sporty trim structure, S, SE and XSE all only come in dark colors. Softex faux leather trim is available on upper trims, as is a standard-sized moonroof.

2023 Toyota Corolla Cross Hybrid interior

Cargo volume, surprisingly, doesn’t take any hit compared to the AWD gas-only ‘Cross. With the second row in place, you’ll have access to 21.5 cu. ft. of space, but no spare tire. There is plenty of space under the load floor for Toyota to have placed one, but they chose not to for some reason. Total passenger volume is identical as well (88.4 cu. ft. without moonroof, 87.3 cu. ft. with moonroof).


The Corolla Cross Hybrid could easily be looked at as a station wagon iteration of the Prius Hybrid. It uses the same new hybrid engine found on the Prius and the updated 2023 Corolla Hybrid – a 2.0L 4-cylinder engine and, finally, a lithium-ion battery stored underneath the rear seat. All-wheel drive is standard, but with a potent electric motor providing thrust to the rear axle that remains on-demand at all speeds. Though all-wheel drive Prius manages 196 horsepower, the Cross sticks with 194, which is still far more than the gas model’s 169 horsepower. The EPA has rated the Cross Hybrid at 42 mpg combined, another leap over the all-wheel drive gas model’s 30 mpg figure.

The Drive

The Corolla cross hybrid is all about fuel economy, and that was evident on our first drive. Spoiler alert, we ended up averaging 50 mpg without even trying too hard! In the real world, this is going to be solidly above the RAV4 Hybrid, which is rated for 40 mpg in most trims. The secondary mission of the Corolla Cross Hybrid that we hadn’t expected is the peppy performance. 0-60 mph should be right around seven seconds, which may not sound like a lot, but for a subcompact crossover like this, that is absolutely excellent and definitely above something like the Subaru Crosstrek. The reason this is so much faster is not just the horsepower number at 196, but also the added torque of the electric motors, which definitely gives us a different feel.

In a lot of CVT-equipped vehicles, you get the drone when you’re accelerating, but then when you let your foot off the accelerator pedal, you actually get this weird lurch of acceleration. You won’t find that here at all because of the style of this hybrid system, which is key to the excellent fuel economy in this vehicle as well as its handling and braking scores. You will have to wait until we get this at home for final numbers, but this feels just like the rest of the Corolla Cross lineup. Body roll and tip/dive are actually a little bit better controlled here than what you’ll find in the Subaru Crosstrek. This has a sport-tuned variant of the suspension that we find in the regular Corolla Cross simply to compensate for the added weight of the battery pack in the rear. It helps this feel a little bit more balanced in terms of handling than the regular ‘Cross, albeit just a little bit heavier.

Although the interior of the Corolla Cross isn’t the most premium in this segment, the behavior of the suspension out on the road really is impressive in that that it never becomes upset over broken pavement. Eight inches of ground clearance is not class-leading, but certainly above average for the segment. You shouldn’t have any issues at National Parks or places like that. Speaking of National Parks, we can’t comment too much on the capability of this all-wheel drive system, but here are some numbers for you. The electric motor in the back is good for about 40 horsepower and a little over 60 lb.-ft. of torque. That may not sound like a great deal, but when you think about it, in most low-speed off-roading situations, you’re going to be traveling at relatively lower speeds where the engine is not going to be producing much more than 80 horsepower. If you want to take things to the next level and find yourself often in sticky off-road situations, you’re going to want to take a look at something like a Bronco Sport with a mechanical front-rear connection, a torque vectoring rear axle that acts as a locking rear differential, etc. The trade-off there is really going to be fuel economy. That’s the big advantage that the Corolla Cross Hybrid has over all of the competition.

Initial Verdict

Bottom line, if you’re looking for a small, easy to park crossover that gets truly impressive fuel economy, get the Corolla Cross Hybrid. Whether you drive it gently or you drive it hard, you’re probably going to be right around the 42 mpg mark. If you’re treating this gently, especially in and around town, you should expect absolutely excellent fuel economy, something we can confirm after driving this all over the hills of Southern California.

To get into the Prius station wagon, prices start at $27,970. A more sensible choice would be the mid-level SE trim for $29,290, which brings a slightly nicer interior and a few more features, but if you’re looking for the wider tires, Softex faux leather, two-tone exterior paint colors, and the sunroof, you’ll need to go the XSE route. That model will cost $31,065 before options/packages, which bring the total closer to $35,000. Any way you slice it, that’s a decent amount of savings over the larger RAV4 Hybrid. If you’re looking for something a little smaller and even friendlier towards your bank account each year, the Corolla Cross Hybrid is a no-brainer.

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