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First Drive: 2023 Toyota Corolla Cross Hybrid Makes the Gas Version Obsolete

Its hybrid system provides a better driving experience and improved fuel economy

2023 Toyota Corolla Cross Hybrid hero front
  • We drive the new hybrid version of the Corolla Cross.
  • It has an EPA-estimated fuel economy of 42 mpg combined.
  • And all-wheel drive is standard.

Toyota introduced the Corolla Cross SUV just last year to fill the gap between the larger RAV4 and the C-HR subcompact. As the name implies, the Corolla Cross is mechanically related to the Corolla sedan and hatchback but has a lifted stance, more cargo space and available all-wheel drive. Now there's an additional model within the lineup: the 2023 Toyota Corolla Cross Hybrid. As its name indicates, it's a hybrid, and with it comes the expectation of higher fuel efficiency. But the hybrid powertrain provides other benefits as well and that makes the Corolla Cross Hybrid a better buy than its gas-only brethren.

What's under the Corolla Cross Hybrid's hood?

The Corolla Cross Hybrid's four-cylinder engine and hybrid system combine to produce a total of 196 horsepower. This is the same hybrid powertrain that Toyota put into its redesigned 2023 Prius. The all-wheel-drive version, which is standard on the Corolla Cross Hybrid, has an additional electric motor that drives the rear wheels when necessary to provide extra traction in slippery conditions or even help the Corolla Cross Hybrid feel a little sportier when going around corners.

As with the Prius, getting 196 hp from a hybrid is pretty impressive. It's more than the regular Corolla Cross, which has just 169 hp. Toyota estimates that the Corolla Cross Hybrid will accelerate from 0 to 60 mph in a respectable 8 seconds.

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2023 Toyota Cross Corolla Hybrid badge

And what about fuel economy?

The 2023 Corolla Cross Hybrid offers an estimated 42 mpg in combined city/highway driving. This is a big increase over the regular all-wheel-drive version of the Corolla Cross, which gets 30 mpg combined. The Prius is still more efficient, as is the rival Kia Niro, but we think 42 mpg is pretty solid considering the vehicle's AWD and utility-oriented nature.

How does the Corolla Cross Hybrid drive?

Around the city, the powertrain is responsive and gets up to highway speeds easily, though if you're generous with the accelerator pedal the four-cylinder engine gets loud and buzzy pretty quickly. The steering and the ride are tuned for comfort to be sure, but thankfully the Corolla Cross Hybrid feels reasonably secure and in control when cornering. There's also just enough ground clearance to get over ruts and rocks when driving on gentle trails, though it should leave the real off-roading to its cousin the 4Runner.

2023 Toyota Cross Corolla interior

How's the Corolla Cross Hybrid's interior?

The Corolla Cross Hybrid offers a reasonable amount of cargo space. The cabin is very similar to that of the non-hybrid, which is generally a good thing. It's easy to get in and out, and the controls are straightforward.

In the back seat, taller passengers will notice the lack of legroom relative to other small SUVs, though headroom is still pretty good. And backseat passengers get air vents standard, something you won't find on its namesake Corolla sedan/hatchback.

How's the Corolla Cross Hybrid's tech?

For 2023, all Corolla Cross models, including the Hybrid, receive a new center touchscreen interface. It has a lot more features than the prior system, such as available navigation powered by Google, more robust voice command capabilities for many of the car's features and controls ("Hey, Toyota" is the prompt), and the ability to receive over-the-air updates for new features and upgrades. It also supports wireless connectivity for Apple CarPlay and Android Auto smartphone integration.

The Corolla Cross Hybrid also comes equipped with Toyota Safety Sense 3.0, the latest driver assistance software suite from the automaker. This is a step forward from what Toyota had on the regular 2022 Corolla Cross. Feature sets are similar, but Toyota says the 3.0 system is better at detecting hazards. In our limited driving opportunity with the Corolla Cross Hybrid, we found the various features, such as adaptive cruise control and lane keeping, worked well and were unobtrusive.

Edmunds says

The 2023 Toyota Corolla Cross Hybrid boasts superior performance and better fuel economy than the regular Corolla Cross. Tack on some serious technology upgrades for 2023 and the package gains even more appeal.

2023 Toyota Corolla Cross Hybrid front