The compact crossover segment is brutally competitive. It has been for years and it’s only getting harder to make a product that truly stands out.

When shoppers first discovered the joys of all-wheel drive and ample cargo space mixed with a higher ride height, they started buying crossovers in droves and never looked back.

Toyota has had several entrants in this game over the years, most recently introducing the Corolla Cross just a few short months ago. Like many of its forebears, it blends legendary Toyota quality with a dose of innovative technology, all wrapped in a package that’s as easy to drive as it is to live with.

But what makes the Toyota Corolla Cross stand out from competitors like the Subaru Crosstrek? Where does the Toyota have its edge and how does it earn its keep? Let’s dig into the details.

Brand Recognition
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Consider the following: Toyota has been using the Corolla name on a consistent basis for the better part of four decades. This hasn’t happened by accident, but rather thanks to a line of vehicles which have created a wealth of happy customers – many of whom return for a second (or third, or fourth) vehicle. We could name several competitors who have changed the name of their entrant in the Corolla’s segment multiple times after failing to knock the Toyota off its lofty perch, but we don’t want to be rude.

That’s why deploying the Corolla name for this new vehicle is such a smart move. By wisely calling this thing the Corolla Cross instead of a newly invented name, Toyota has instantly imbued it with a level of name recognition few of its competitors enjoy. Familiarity is a good thing in this case, bringing an identity which requires no explanation to the neighbors – or the sales rep at trade-in time. We’ll have more to say on the latter in just a second.

Powertrain Numbers
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Compared with a vehicle like the Subaru Crosstrek, the Toyota Corolla Cross has more horsepower. Most trim levels of the little Subie are equipped with a 2.0L four-cylinder engine making 152 horses. This is not a big stable, especially when tasked with turning all four wheels when the all-wheel drive system starts to earn its keep during an early morning drive to hockey practice.

In contrast, the Corolla Cross packs a robust 169 horsepower, 17 more than most Crosstrek trims, and enough to be considered something more than a so-called ‘on paper’ advantage. Both vehicles can be equipped with a continuously variable automatic transmission, a device that works to keep its internal combustion dance partner well within its power reserve without the typical rise and fall of engine speed. It is, however, an extra-cost item on the Crosstrek.

As for putting the power to the ground, the Corolla Cross gives you the option of either a front-drive or all-wheel drive setup, while the Subaru is AWD-only. All-wheel drive can be great, but so is having a choice!

Fuel Economy
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We can’t think of anyone who likes using more fuel than necessary, especially with gasoline prices rising faster than a space shuttle to the moon. By design, four-cylinder engines are fuel efficient, a large reason why they are deployed with such regularity in vehicles with one eye toward thrifty performance.

When equipped with comparable powertrains – 2.0L four-cylinder engine, CVT automatic, and all-wheel drive – the Toyota Corolla Cross both in city driving and highway cruising. Good for 29 mpg in urban environments and 33 mpg on the open road, according to official testing numbers from the Environmental Protection Agency. In other words, Corolla Cross drivers will not be on a first name (or even last name) basis with the attendants at their local gas station. Based on driving 15,000 miles per year with a roughly even split between city and country driving routes, the EPA estimated in early 2022 that Corolla Cross owners should budget approximately $2,250 for fuel per year based on a price of at the pumps. Adjust that figure accordingly based on the price of fuel in your area.

Style & Space
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Sure, styling can be subjective, but it’s certainly true that there are shapes and colors found to be visually pleasing by most customers. While there there is an agreeable style to this vehicle that many in this segment just don’t share.

Toyota has deployed the industry-wide approach of applying flat black cladding above the Corolla Cross wheel arches to enhance the appearance of a raised ride height.

The Toyota has smooth and simple cladding in this area, while the Subaru stylists went to town with chunky shapes which intrude into parts of the fender where black plastic would not normally reside. Instead of looking like it’s on stilts, Toyota made sure the Corolla Cross carries its height without looking awkward. Current customers of the brand will be comforted by familiar shapes and find a lot to like in the external style of this vehicle.

These styling choices also pay dividends in the Toyota’s interior. There’s a grand total of 26.5 cubic feet of cargo area behind the rear seats in a Corolla Cross as measured by the manufacturers, compared to just in the back of a Crosstrek. One will definitely notice this difference when hauling home treasures from the antique store or tasty finds from the local farmer’s market.

Price and Future Value
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It’s a close run to the finish line in terms of price between comparably equipped versions of the 2022 Toyota Corolla Cross and a Subaru Crosstrek from the same model year. When shod with similar options and like-minded powertrains, the Corolla Cross holds a slight ($250) advantage over the Crosstrek when comparing entry-level trims. Any monetary savings are welcome in this uncertain financial landscape, so being able to place a couple of hundred bucks back into one’s bank account is an event worth celebrating.

Verdict
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It's worth circling back to the start of this article, where we spoke of the Corolla name and its ability to trigger instant recognition for wide swaths of people.

And let’s not forget Toyota’s name is synonymous with quality, durability, and reliability.
There’s a case to be made that the Corolla Cross will maintain a strong resale value thanks to those reasons, but also because of its own merits – solid build quality, value-laden trim levels, and towering practicality.