Skip to main content

The 2022 Corolla Cross is the newest subcompact crossover from Toyota. After the C-HR failed to wow consumers, the Corolla Cross has arrived with a better powertrain and more storage. Toyota has confirmed a hybrid version with an upgraded engine for the next model year.

Like many crossover SUVs, the Toyota Corolla Cross comes with front-wheel drive and offers optional all-wheel drive. Though AWD provides better traction, some experts have found it alone doesn’t fully protect occupants in harsh weather. So, are you better off spending the extra money for AWD on a Corolla Cross, or would a set of winter tires do the trick?

The 2022 Toyota Corolla Cross at a glance

A 2022 Toyota Corolla Cross in Wind Chill Pearl parked in a photo studio
2022 Toyota Corolla | Toyota Motor Sales, U.S.A., Inc.

The 2022 Toyota Corolla Cross has one available powertrain, a 169-hp four-cylinder paired to a continuously variable transmission. It’s good enough for rides in the city, but Car and Driver found it to be loud at higher speeds. Reaching 60 mph took a leisurely 9.2 seconds when C/D tested the AWD model.

The good news is that even the AWD models are still fuel-efficient, rated for 29/32 mpg city/highway. Sticking with the standard FWD boosts those numbers by two miles per gallon each. C/D also says the AWD model feels more stable around turns, but both versions provide comfortable rides.

Inside, the cabin looks similar to the Toyota Corolla sedan, the inspiration for the Corolla Cross. The materials are pleasant to behold and feel; plus, there’s even more space for riders to stretch. C/D’s testers especially liked the heated faux-leather seats in the range-topping XLE model.

The Toyota Corolla Cross provides ample cargo space behind the rear row, nearing 27 cubic feet. But the AWD model offers only around 25 cubic feet because of the elevated load floor.

Depending upon the trim, drivers can access the infotainment controls through a seven- or eight-inch display screen. It’s user-friendly with several physical buttons, and all models have smartphone integration. As with most other new Toyota models, you’ll get access to almost every safety feature on the base trim.

Toyota lists the entry-level Corolla Cross L’s starting price at $22,195. The LE trim retails for a suggested $24,545, while the XLE costs $26,325. Getting the Corolla Cross winter-ready with AWD costs an extra $1,300.

Is AWD necessary in the snow when driving a Toyota Corolla Cross?

If you need to drive on snowy roads, AWD is better than two-wheel drive on any vehicle, not just the Toyota Corolla Cross. AWD vehicles get better acceleration while driving on ice and snow, even when they start to drift sideways. However, a set of winter tires can also work just as well in most situations. 

Comparison tests revealed a front-wheel-drive car with winter tires still has excellent traction on snow-covered roads. In one Consumer Reports test, an FWD car with winter tires offered better braking performance on snow-covered pavement. FWD cars with winter tires can also slow down faster before entering a turn. 

If you need to stop suddenly to avoid a patch of ice around the corner, winter tires could save you. By contrast, Consumer Reports’ AWD-equipped Honda CR-V sometimes barrelled off the test track on corners. For the best performance, CR recommends combining an AWD drivetrain with winter tires.

AWD isn’t all it’s cracked up to be

With AWD, the subdued Toyota Corolla Cross can conquer icy roads with relative ease. However, it’s always important to remember that AWD by itself won’t protect you from accidents in the winter. Safe driving practices and winter tires are equally essential.

For some drivers, it might be annoying to switch out tires once the seasons change. Still, AWD can be a hassle itself. It’s pricier to purchase than a front-wheel-drive system, and it creates a drain on your car’s gas mileage because of the added weight.