11 November 2022

Canberra's best-selling Corolla gets jacked (in more ways than one)

| James Coleman
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Toyota Carolla

The 2023 Toyota Corolla Cross, in 2WD GX Hybrid guise. Photo: James Coleman.

Let’s rattle them off: LandCruiser, Prado, Fortuner, Kluger, RAV4, CH-R, Yaris Cross …

You know where this is going, don’t you? Yep, yet another Sports Utility Vehicle (SUV) has joined the Toyota range. It’s called the Corolla Cross, and needless to say, the recipe was quite simple: take your best-selling hatchback, jack it up and add some black plastic cladding.

Unnecessary? Given it doesn’t exactly fill a yawning chasm between the RAV4 and Compact High-Rider, possibly. But what does it matter? It’ll sell like the proverbial (whatever that might be).

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The all-new model has only just arrived, but the showroom at the Canberra Toyota dealership in Belconnen is already full of various shades of Corolla Cross, all with the big ‘sold’ bow on the bonnet.

Canberra Toyota sales consultant Andreas Croke says it was thought there would be an even mix of young families and empty nesters among the buyers – “and that’s exactly what we’re seeing”.

Not only that, but with wait times for Canberra’s bestseller car of 2021, the RAV4, still stretching to the horizon, some are settling for one that, although slightly smaller, will be theirs within six to 12 months.

Is it cheaper, though? Not really.

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I’m in the entry-level two-wheel drive GX version of the Corolla Cross, which starts at $36,303 (not including the metallic paint). The RAV4 is only $1000 away.

So what do you get?

At long last, Toyota has updated its clunky infotainment system. Combined with a new 10.5-inch touchscreen, the new iteration in the Corolla Cross is a breath of minty fresh air.

Infotainment system

The old clunky system is no more. Photo: James Coleman.

But it’s really here to facilitate the pièce de résistance, a new smartphone app.

Once downloaded and hooked up to the car, you can use it to lock and unlock the car, start the engine, prime the AC and navigation and (here’s the best part) configure it for different drivers.

This means you can set a speed limit and curfew before your teenager gets behind the wheel. The car will then use an embedded Telstra SIM card to send you a notification whenever either is breached, as well as information on exactly where the breach occurred.

This gives you ample time to set up a jump-scare-style talking-to when they walk through the front door at 11:01 pm.

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Yes, technology like this is already commonplace in premium brands, but this is the first time it has come to a base-model Corolla.

The rest of the package includes four wheels, five cloth seats and a sea of plastic. You have to go up a model for the steering wheel to be coated with leather.

Of course, there’s also an ocean of tech: adaptive cruise control, lane-keeping assistance, blind-spot monitoring, parking sensors, rear-cross traffic alert (take a breath), reverse camera and single-zone climate-controlled air-conditioning as standard. Not to mention the petrol-electric hybrid arrangement, coupled with an ‘EV’ mode that gets you as far as possible under electric power alone, that sips a miserly 4.3 litres of fuel every 100 km.

There are inoffensive shades of its Corolla siblings on the front and back, and the bulging wheel arches make the Cross look like it’s hit the gym between school runs and excursions to Bunnings, but it’s not going to wow at any beauty pageants.

But you knew that – it’s a Toyota Corolla.

For being a car and moving you and your things to where you want to be, it’s unparalleled. The driving experience is pleasantly smooth, parts and servicing are relatively cheap, and there’s a useful amount of features. And you know that when you come out to it in half a century, it will still work.

All the Cross does is take that recipe up to new heights.


Where else to go than the garden centre? Photo: James Coleman.

2023 Toyota Corolla Cross GX Hybrid 2WD

  • $36,303 (driveway)
  • 2-litre petrol engine and electric motor, 146 kW
  • Continuously Variable Transmission (CVT), front-wheel drive
  • 0-100 km/h in 7.5 seconds
  • 4.3 litres per 100 km combined fuel usage
  • 425 litres of boot space
  • 6-12 months wait time.

Visit Canberra Toyota for more information.

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” the extra ride height we love.”

We don’t all want a vehicle with a high centre of gravity.

Some of us are still young and fit enough to get into and out of a normal height car.

Wanted to get one of these, but the waiting time is end of first quarter next year for the model I want, plus Toyota has introduced subscriptions for top tier features. Like a streaming service, you have to pay a monthly fee for some features. BMW have something similar – you want heated seats – pay a monthly fee

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