The new Toyota Corolla Cross subcompact SUV first launched in Thailand in 2020. At the time, there was no mention of it being brough to market on this side of the world. That’s not to say that wasn’t the idea from the get-go, but if it was Toyota did a good job keeping it a secret.
But now spy shots have been taken of a camouflaged model in the U.S., evidently the North American version that Toyota plans to bring to market here in 2022. Construction of the vehicle will likely begin this year at a plant jointly operated by Toyota and Mazda in Alabama.
Toyota already has an SUV in the subcompact category, but it's the C-HR, which was originally conceived as a Scion, remember, and it does not offer all-wheel drive. The Corolla Cross will therefore be sold alongside it, at least when it debuts next year. We expect some differences between the versions that will be sold here and those we've seen elsewhere, but details on that will be for another day.
Now populated by the likes of the Chevrolet Trailblazer, Buick Encore GX, Kia Seltos, Mazda CX-30 and Hyundai Kona, the subcompact SUV segment is becoming a crowded place. Last year, sales in the category grew by 4.8 percent in 2020 in the U.S., despite the pandemic. In total, nearly 900,000 units sold. Here in Canada, growth was even stronger for the same period at 15 percent (for 142,515 units sold).
The Corolla Cross is built on the automaker's TNGA-C modular platform, and to be clear it is not a version of the Corolla, but a wholly new model. We expect to find the brand's ubiquitous 1.8L 4-cylinder engine under the hood, paired with a continuously variable transmission (CVT). It's expected to produce 140 hp and 129 lb-ft of torque. A hybrid version is also in the works, which is unsurprising given the automaker's commitment to offer such a variant with each of its new models. That edition is the likely choice to offer the four-wheel-drive configuration.
In the lineup, we believe the Corolla Cross will be positioned between the C-HR and the RAV4. As for the exact timing of its arrival in dealerships, the current microchip shortage afflicting tha industry makes guessing at a specific timeline a fool’s game. What's planned for the end of the year could very well now be pushed back to early 2022.
Still, some Canadian dealerships are already announcing the vehicle's upcoming debut on their websites. Stay tuned.