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2022 Toyota Corolla Cross First Drive: A Modern Version of the Matrix

Auto123 gets in a first drive of the 2022 Toyota Corolla Cross.

If you ask former Matrix owners about that Toyota vehicle, they'll usually tell you they liked it a lot and that the model disappeared too soon. But the reality is that Americans aren't too fond of station wagons, and that reality probably doomed the Matrix model to an early death.

More than 10 years after the Matrix's death, Toyota returns with a respected name, the Corolla, and increases the lineup’s total by one. The Corolla Cross can be seen as a modern interpretation of the old Matrix., though it’s larger and based on the firm's TNGA-C chassis. The model compares in size to a Honda CR-V, a Mazda CX-5 or a Hyundai Kona.

The styling is eye-catching and pleasing to the eye. The proportions are good and the space inside is generous. In addition, Toyota has scattered 24 Corolla Cross logos here and there inside the vehicle, which represent the 24/7 dedication of the team that designed and developed the model.

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2022 Toyota Corolla Cross, three-quarters front
Photo: B.Charette
2022 Toyota Corolla Cross, three-quarters front

Four versions, including one under $25,000
Toyota offers four different models: L, LE, LE Premium and XLE.  The first two versions come with a choice of a front-wheel drive or all-wheel drive system. The base model with front-wheel drive starts at $24,890. An additional $1,400 is required for all-wheel drive.

This base model comes with a 7-inch screen, 6-speaker audio system, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto connectivity, 4.2-inch color multifunction display, 17-inch steel wheels, heated front seats, power-adjustable heated side mirrors, adjustable intermittent wipers, dual-beam LED headlights and LED combination taillights.

The LE trim starts at $27,090 in front-wheel-drive models (plus $1,400 for all-wheel drive) and adds a few luxury touches like a larger 8-inch screen, heated leather-wrapped steering wheel, Smart Key with push-button start, cargo cover, anti-theft alarm system and Toyota's Blind Spot Monitor with Rear Cross Traffic Alert.

2022 Toyota Corolla Cross, profile
Photo: B.Charette
2022 Toyota Corolla Cross, profile

All-wheel drive only
The two best-equipped models (LE Premium and XLE) come with four-wheel drive only. The former starts at $30,590 and offers a power sunroof, wireless smartphone charging and roof rails.

In the XLE trim, which starts at $33,990, you get a 9-speaker JBL audio system, 7-inch colour multifunction display, leather-wrapped shift knob, ambient lighting, power-adjustable driver's seat, SoftTex-covered seats, dual-zone automatic climate control, parking assist with braking, auto-dimming rearview mirror and rear guide lines with LED exterior lighting and 18-inch wheels.

One engine for all
The engine comes from Toyota's toolbox. It's a 169-horsepower, 2.0L 4-cylinder that works only with a CVT. Performance from this powertrain is mediocre, at best. No one will be smiling much behind the wheel of this car.

Yet, the engine works well. It's the CVT that's lazy and has to drag a body that weighs anywhere from 1,470 to 1,508 kg depending on the version. As a result, acceleration is noisy to the point of being ungainly.

2022 Toyota Corolla Cross, engine
Photo: B.Charette
2022 Toyota Corolla Cross, engine

The all-wheel drive models get a multi-link suspension at the rear, which delivers a better grip on the road. If you look at the model and see a connection to the RAV4, you're right. The wheelbase is only a few inches shorter and the Corolla Cross offers room for four adults, up to 750 litres of cargo space (in 2WD configuration) and is capable of towing 1,500 lb. We probably would have appreciated more support from the somewhat flared seats, but the driving position is very good.

Toyota claims an average fuel consumption of about 7.3L/100 km for the two-wheel drive models and 7.8L/100 km for the all-wheel drive models. We averaged 9.7L/100 km with the XLE model that we tested for a day in the Gatineau region of Quebec.

Generous basic safety
Toyota has now installed its Safety Sense system in the majority of its products. The TSS 2.0 suite includes Lane Departure Warning with Steering Assist and Edge Detection, Automatic High Beam, Pre-Collision System with Pedestrian and Cyclist Detection, Lane Keeping Assist and Dynamic Radar Cruise Control.

There are also many other standard features, such as Toyota's Star Safety System, a rearview camera, 10 airbags and an automatic tire pressure monitoring system.

2022 Toyota Corolla Cross, steering wheel, dashboard
Photo: Toyota
2022 Toyota Corolla Cross, steering wheel, dashboard

Conclusion
Is the Corolla Cross worth it? The answer is yes. It's written in the sky (and on the tailgate) that this model will sell. As a member of the Corolla family, it ticks all the boxes that motorists are looking for. Well, almost, because if you're looking for fun behind the wheel, you're in the wrong place.

It's a well-conceived vehicle for those who are looking for a long-term reliable ride that will be able to transport their small family for years without worry. Which is not to be sneezed at.

And if you find that its fuel consumption is not ideal, know that Toyota is preparing a hybrid version that will arrive next year. We don't know the details as of yet, but Toyota is probably going to dig into its toolbox again for that variant. Will it borrow more from the RAV4 or Corolla hybrid? We'll see.

2022 Toyota Corolla Cross, front
Photo: B.Charette
2022 Toyota Corolla Cross, front

We like

Lots of safety technologies
Good infotainment system
A style that we like

We like less

CVT transmission is slow and a bit noisy
Fairly high weight
Acceleration lacks punch

The competition

Honda HR-V
Hyundai Kona
Kia Seltos
Mazda CX-30
Nissan Qashqai
Volkswagen Taos

2022 Toyota Corolla Cross, interior
Photo: Toyota
2022 Toyota Corolla Cross, interior

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Photos:B.Charette
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