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The 2023 Toyota Corolla Cross Hybrid isn’t particularly exciting, fun, upscale or endearing. But it isn’t intended to be. It’s a reasonably affordable and practical commuter or parent-mobile that’s easy to drive and easy to live with.

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

The Corolla Cross is also available with a gas-only engine, but the hybrid has several advantages despite starting at $4,360 over the base, non-hybrid model.

Of note is its standard all-wheel drive and impressive efficiency. The EPA notes the Corolla Cross Hybrid will return up to 42 combined mpg (45 city/38 highway), which is 10 more combined miles than the most efficient, FWD non-hybrid model. The 2.0-liter hybridized four-cylinder develops a total of 196 horsepower and pairs with a continuously variable transmission. The non-hybrid version settles for 169 horsepower, giving the hybrid more power and better efficiency. The hybridized powertrain still won’t thrill drivers, but the Cross Hybrid has enough power and grunt for cruising around town or passing on the highway.

“Enough” also applies to its ride comfort and the quietness of its cabin. Neither is stellar, but neither are they particularly offensive.

The cabin shares its styling and components with the Corolla sedan. The Cross delivers a genuine-SUV high seating position, and outward visibility is excellent. The is also the benefit of added passenger space over the Corolla sedan. However, rear legroom is at a premium for adults. Just 32 inches are offered, nearly eight inches less than the also-a-subcompact-hybrid Kia Niro. With the limited space, installing a bulky car seat in the rear will infringe on front passenger legroom, which otherwise is a far more agreeable 43 inches.

Storage space is adequate for a vehicle of this class. There are wide door pockets for water bottles and the center console is narrow but deep. Over 21 cubic feet of cargo space is offered out back, which slightly trails the Niro’s 23 cubes.

All models sport an 8-inch touchscreen with Toyota’s updated infotainment system. It’s not the flashiest or most intuitive system, but it doesn’t deliver many headaches unless you’re a radio station scroller. The requirement of using the touchscreen to flip through channels can get tiresome. Thankfully there are still physical knobs and switches for audio volume, climate controls and available heated seats on the dash (with redundancy built into the steering wheel). Wireless Apple CarPlay and Android Auto are standard along with two USB-C ports.

The cabin materials won’t wow buyers even in the top-spec XSE model I tested. There’s still plenty of hard plastics on the door panels, dash and other high-touch areas. Toyota does throw in more desirable features as you move up the trim scale.

The base S ($27,970) includes 17-inch wheels, keyless entry and push-button start, LED headlights and automatic climate control. The SE ($29,290) adds heated outside mirrors, tinted rear windows, more USB ports and a wireless phone charging pad.

The XLE ($31,065) sports 18-inch wheels, a digital gauge cluster, heated front seats, a power driver’s seat, dual-zone automatic climate control and ambient interior lighting.

Fabric seats are standard in base S and SE models. The XSE sports synthetic leather.

Stand-alone options include a nine-speaker JBL sound system, power liftgate, a sunroof and adaptive headlights.

All models sport Toyota’s Safety Sense 3.0. It includes adaptive cruise control, automatic forward emergency braking, a rear seat reminder and lane departure warning with steer assist. The midrange SE adds blind-spot warning with rear cross-traffic alert, and the XSE includes front and rear parking sensors and rear automatic braking.

Considering there are just two subcompact, non-luxury hybrid SUVs available (three if you count the Subaru Crosstrek plug-in), the Corolla Cross Hybrid is, by default, one of the best. But even among the entire subcompact class, it has strong appeal for those who value efficiency as ease-of-use above all else. There’s no learning curve to the Corolla Cross Hybrid. Just get in and drive. It won’t thrill in the process, but its inoffensiveness is one of its best attributes. Overall, the Corolla Cross Hybrid fits the bill for those seeking mostly fuss-free mobility, and strong efficiency, from a subcompact SUV.