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Sales-wise, 2023 has been rough for Toyota. Even models that are typically quite popular, like the Highlander and Corolla, are on a downward trend. On the bright side, some of the automaker’s understated cars have seen huge popularity boosts recently. One of them is the Corolla Cross, but what does it actually have to offer?

Lots of drivers bought a Toyota Corolla Cross this year

About 7,500 Toyota Corolla Cross models were purchased in July 2023, which is a sales increase of 58% over July 2022’s sales. With the exception of May and January, the Corolla Cross has managed to sell over 5,000 vehicles each month prior. 

From a year-to-date standpoint, the Corolla Cross’s popularity is up by 32% per GoodCarBadCar estimates.

What took the Toyota Corolla Cross so long to shine?

The Toyota Corolla Cross is a relatively new SUV, first announced for the summer of 2021. Given that Toyota has plenty of other attractive SUV options, we’re not surprised that the Corolla Cross was initially overshadowed. It doesn’t help that the rest of the compact SUV market is also flooded with appealing rivals. 

Many shoppers are also after the vehicle with the lowest price, especially with the state of the economy and rising auto insurance rates. The Corolla Cross has managed to maintain its relatively low MSRP across its three model years. The 2023 Corolla Cross can be had for as low as $23,610 and the highest trim costs just $27,715.

In June of this year, which happens to be in the middle of the second quarter, the Toyota Corolla Cross Hybrid was released. It retails for just under $28,000 and gets an estimated mileage of 42 mpg combined city/highway. Even if shoppers bought the regular Corolla Cross instead, having more powertrain options only increases a vehicle’s popularity. 

The Corolla Cross could probably use some good press, given how it has received some harsh criticism from critics. That’s mainly due to this SUV’s powertrain, which consists of a 169-hp four-cylinder engine and a continuously-variable transmission. Car and Driver claims that “sloths move quicker” than this SUV and called attention to the engine’s elevated noise levels. The Toyota Corolla Cross reportedly also doesn’t handle corners with any grace.

Granted, some shoppers will rely on the wisdom of dealership sales associates instead of automotive critics when browsing inventory. The fact that this SUV has enough seats for their needs and comes from such a reliable automaker is reason enough to buy it. However, other shoppers might want a car that’s at least enjoyable to drive. 

Here’s what makes this model so appealing

Even the non-hybrid Toyota Corolla Cross is very conservative on fuel, rated for up to 32 mpg combined. While its ride quality is not very exciting, even Car and Driver admitted that Corolla Cross’s suspension can confidently mute road imperfections. The SUV has two rows with seating for five, but its second-row legroom is tad below average at 32 in. That’s compensated with a big cargo area, which promises up to 26 cu-ft behind the rear seats.

Any trim level of the Toyota Corolla Cross also grants you a lot of standard features. The base L has wireless smartphone integration and Amazon Alexa compatibility, plus six speakers and LED headlights. The mid-level LE gets a wireless charging pad and more features added to the advanced safety suite. The Corolla Cross XLE’s seats are trimmed with faux leather and the cabin is accented nicely with LED lighting. 

Some features still cost extra, like the JBL stereo system and moonroof. Having an optional turbocharged engine might also improve the Corolla Cross’s reputation amongst buyers and critics. Perhaps Toyota will consider adding more upgrades as the Corolla Cross’s popularity grows. 


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