Toyota Heeds SUV Demand With Corolla Cross

THE call of the SUV (sport utility vehicle) market is a hard one to resist; especially with demand for such vehicles growing globally although the trend in a few markets has soften somewhat of late. Nonetheless, SUVs are still favourably viewed as more than lifestyle vehicles and many are bought for their practicality, driving convenience and outgoing image without foregoing performance and fuel economy.

There is already the C-HR from Toyota but its pricier status narrows market demand somewhat to those who would find this compact Crossover ideal for the price. The more attractively priced Corolla Cross would find a bigger market, fuelling the local demand for SUVs or Crossovers from this Japanese brand.

As the name suggests, the Corolla Cross has its roots in the Corolla sedan and it couldn’t be a better platform to start from. The Corolla today has come a long way from the Corolla KE70 and AE80 (early to mid-1980s) that I once owned in succession. Back then, it didn’t stop me from driving those early day Corollas with gung-ho and I would probably be doing the same with the modern-day versions.

By using an existing platform (benefiting from the TNGA or Toyota New Global Architecture), much of the development costs could be reduced and focus could be targeted at the new driving dynamics of an SUV. By comparison, an SUV is taller than a sedan and as a result is bigger too. For the sake of dimensional comparison, the Corolla Cross is 185mm taller than the sedan at 1620mm, 45mm wider at 1825mm and 170mm longer at 4460mm.
Surprisingly though, the Corolla Cross also has a shorter wheelbase of 2640mm against the sedan’s 2700mm, a difference of 60mm. Its taller stance also means better ground clearance of 161mm, 35mm further away from the tarmac than the sedan. Advantages also include a higher ride height for the driver at 1290mm, up by 121mm, and thinner A-pillars (front) for ‘superior’ visibility.

A major difference comes in the rear suspension; the Corolla Cross has a Torsion Beam design with stabiliser (anti-roll bar) that is more ideal to its SUV/Crossover role. The Corolla sedan has a double wishbone rear that should score more points on ride comfort although our drive/ride experience with vehicles having a torsion beam rear didn’t disappoint on the level of ride comfort either.

Weight-wise, the Corolla Cross is naturally a heavier vehicle having more mass than the sedan. At 1405kg, it is 40kg heavier although this would have a minimal effect on drive performance and fuel economy.

Of course, the Corolla Cross has its own styling. This is obvious up front with the double trapezoidal look in the grille and the bumper and central air vent combo. Some say it has a macho look with a styling that’s more masculine than feminine. As an SUV/Crossover, this bold design fits the rugged or rough-and-tumble role aptly.

Inside, you wouldn’t be able to tell the difference between the Corolla Cross and sedan as the interior styling is kept quite similar. Apart from saving on development costs, it retains the familiarity among variants in the same model family. There are, of course, features and details that would differ from the sedan as the Corolla Cross has an open interior space, right up to the luggage area.

The Corolla Cross is a five-seater SUV with the rear seats having a six-degree lean angle for greater passenger comfort on long distance travel. There are also two air vents at the back of the centre console along with two USB ports to charge up the handphones that the rear seat passengers would gladly enjoy.

As for the luggage area, there is the ‘kick’ feature under the rear bumper to open the tailgate. This is convenient if your arms are fully utilised carrying items from the supermarket as all you need to do is merely ‘kick’ under the bumper for the tailgate to open electronically. This feature applies to all models in the range. This is just one of four ways to open the tailgate; you could also do so with the remote, via a control on the dashboard or merely using the latch on the tailgate itself.

The engine is the same as that for the Corolla sedan being the 2ZR-FE undersquare unit with double overhead camshafts and Dual VVT-i (variable valve timing-intelligent). The bore is 80.5mm and stroke is 88.3mm to displace 1798cc. The transmission is the same too being the seven-speed CVT (continuously variable transmission) with Sequential Shiftmatic for manual ‘gear’ selection. However, the Corolla Cross would not have paddle shifters on the steering wheel that the Corolla sedan has.

UMW Toyota Motor is making two versions available, the Corolla Cross G and Corolla Cross V. The latter has a slightly different rear LED (light emitting diode) lamp design with light curtain apart from a higher level of fittings and safety features. The Corolla Cross V has Pre-collision system, Lane Departure Alert with Steering Assist, Lane Tracing Assist, Dynamic Radar Cruise Control and Automatic High Beam.

Common to both models are the Blind Spot Monitor, Rear Cross Traffic Alert, Tyre Pressure Warning System, seven airbags, and a whole list of dynamic safety features such as Vehicle Stability Control, Traction Control, Hill-start Assist Control, Emergency Brake Signal, among others. There is also a front digital video recorder and 3D Panoramic View Monitor. Optional items are the rear digital video recorder and wireless charger.

The Corolla Cross appears to be taking on the Honda HR-V although it is priced higher, gong by the Corolla sedan pricing standard. The Corolla Cross 1.8G goes for RM124,000 on the road without insurance and the 1.8V is RM10,000 more at RM134,000. It’s still reasonably competitive against rivals in general. Find out more on this latest SUV from Toyota through our drive impression, which was achieved through a pre-launch media drive.

Link here.
Corolla-Cross Video.mp4

Toyota Cross Media Drive here