Quick Review: Toyota Corolla Cross, the next big thing for Toyota?

The Toyota Corolla Cross has just made its local debut today (check out our full launch coverage if you haven’t already!), but luckily for us, UMW Toyota invited the media over for a test drive session just about a week before the launch, where we managed to briefly put the 1.8G variant through its paces.

While we might still need a little bit more time to fully form our overall opinions, there’s still plenty to talk about, especially since we were given the chance to drive the all-new Toyota Corolla Cross across a variety of conditions – so here goes!

Driving out of the compounds of UMW Toyota’s HQ, where we were immediately met with a sea of red brick roads, the three of us in the car (with masks and social distancing in place) collectively let out a subtle gasp – the Corolla Cross almost completely soaked up all the bumpiness you’d expect from the brickwork!

The comfort levels within the cabin is something that we constantly came back to throughout the drive. Even on the highways, the Corolla Cross effortlessly soaks up the undulations, demonstrating the kind of poise you’d expect from a premium European grand tourer in the way it sits down onto the tarmac after a crest on the road.

The comfort-oriented suspension set-up is aided by decent NVH levels, with engine and wind noise kept at a minimal level – the latter particularly surprising here, as the 1.8G variant misses out on the acoustic windshield treatment that’s present on the range-topper. Road noise does tend to seep in a little at highway cruising speeds, though it’s nothing out of the ordinary.

Now, in a car that’s so comfortable and supple, plus the mere fact that it’s actually a tall-riding SUV, it’s probably safe to assume that the Corolla Cross wouldn’t shine in the handling department… right? Well, let’s just say you’d be surprised at how well it handles on windier roads, as we quickly found out on some twisty backroads heading towards Semenyih.

We automotive writers like to rave about the Toyota New Global Architecture platform, or TNGA for short, because of its ability to completely transform a car’s road-hugging characteristics. Surprise, surprise: the TNGA-C platform, underpinning the all-new Corolla Cross, has once again showed its magical powers.

Even though it comes with a more simplistic, “budget” torsion beam suspension at the rear, the Toyota Corolla Cross still feels incredibly fun on the windy roads. You’d never imagine an SUV of this size can seemingly flow from corner to corner like this, but the Corolla Cross does.

The traction also genuinely surprised us – despite looking like a significant hunk of metal, the Corolla Cross manages to handle its weight beautifully around sharp bends without breaking a sweat most of the time, urging you to give it more speed. Even when it does break traction, it does so pretty gradually, giving you the chance to easily correct it.

As for the powertrain, yes, it is the same ol’ 1.8-litre naturally-aspirated four-banger, with the same 139 hp and 172 Nm of torque. While the power figures are nothing to shout about, you’ll be hard-pressed to find fault in actual driving situations – even when you crave for a little fun on the weekend.

This is especially true thanks to the brilliant CVT gearbox. Throttle response is immediate, and the gearbox is also eager to hold higher revs even at partial throttle input to make up for the lower power output, making it fairly easy to overtake on highways.

On the flip side, when you’re more gentle on the throttle input, the gearbox just disappears into the background, leaving you with a quiet, serene cabin during highway cruising.

The best part of all of this, is that they’re pretty much shared between the two variants – as they have no differences in the mechanical bits. So no matter which one you choose, you’ll rest assured knowing that you’re getting one of the best-handling SUVs out there in the market.

There’s still a lot to unpack about this all-new SUV – so make sure to check out our coverage on the Toyota Corolla Cross here. We also made a short video on our experience during this media drive event, linked here.

For now, do you think if the Toyota Corolla Cross has enough to take on the beloved Honda HR-V? Let us know in the comments section below!


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