What’s in a name? When it comes to the almighty Corolla, quite a bit. Canadians have been buying Toyota’s compact sedan for generations, to the point where we would wager significant amounts of money that nearly everyone reading this article has either owned a Corolla at some point or know a person who does.
With that in mind, it makes sense for the brand to christen its newest crossover vehicle as the Corolla Cross. Station wagons might be deader than disco but adding a few inches of ground clearance and some black wheel arches is a sure-fire way to net success. Toss in the vaunted Corolla name and we think Toyota will have a great deal of demand for this vehicle.
An attractive price point won’t hurt, either. A base model front-wheel drive Corolla Cross is set to sticker at just $24,890 in Canada. Every trim is motivated by a 2.0-litre four-cylinder engine making 169 horsepower, with all-wheel drive showing up as a $1,400 option. Regardless of the number of driven wheels, there is a measured 8.2 inches of ground clearance; this is good news for customers who are mulling the benefits of power being sent to all four wheels compared to the price increase and slight fuel economy penalty. All-wheel drive or not, however, all hands should be running four winter tires.
Base L trim models make do with a 7-inch infotainment touchscreen, one which nevertheless includes smartphone integration and USB inputs. Note that back seat urchins will get their own pair of USB charging ports on the next-level LE trim and higher. There are six audio speakers, a tilt/telescope steering wheel, and heated seats for the front chairs. And, in case you’re wondering, the days of rolling with 2/60 air conditioning (two windows down, driving 60 km/h) have gone the way of the dodo; frigid air will blow from the ventilation registers even on this L trim.
Externally, there isn’t too much to differentiate the base model from its more expensive brothers – at least given a quick glance in traffic. LED head- and taillamps are shared with other trims, as are the rear spoiler and windshield wiper de-icer grid (a criminally underrated feature). The L does make do with 17-inch steel wheels instead of alloys, and turn signal repeaters are absent from the heated side mirrors. The only two zero dollar colours available on L are Sonic Silver and Jet Black.
What We’d Choose
There is a $2,200 difference between the base L and mid-range LE – and the extra creature comforts brought by that largesse are notable. A blind spot monitoring system will help new drivers change lanes on the busy 401, an 8-inch infotainment screen can be viewed without squinting, and push button start means there’s no digging for keys after climbing into the driver’s seat. The steering wheel gains a heater, while a cargo cover and privacy glass will help keep valuables from prying eyes.
Still, when shopping at this end of the price spectrum, an extra $45 per month isn’t chump change. The L still has the same engine, same ground clearance, and important driving aids like dynamic cruise control and lane tracing assist. If one can suffer the ignominy of wearing gloves during the winter to grip an unheated steering wheel, there’s a lot of value in the entry-level Corolla Cross.