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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Hi guys,
I picked up my Corolla Cross last week. It is a jet black, L trim, FWD only, with a three tone interior (white/tan upper part, gray seats, dark gray/black lower part).
I got it from a Toyota dealer in Bellevue WA for MSRP plus doc fee and all weather floor mats as added costs. Yes, as hard it is to believe, around the Seattle area there are still a few dealers that don't try to take advantage of you in the current market.
Impressions:
  • outside looks very good; looks strong and a bit chunky (like an SUV)
  • rides high (I love it); high enough to just scoot sideways when getting in and out - good for your knees; high driving position
  • wheel covers look good; would have preferred alloy rims, but the steel wheels look Ok too
  • inside looks very good. The three tone interior looks upscale. The trim pieces look good and seem a bit higher quality. Door handles (inside) are black plastic, but they feel good to the touch and look good. Steering wheel is urethane, but feels good in hands.
  • I like physical buttons and knobs for various controls. Feels like a normal car.
  • drives like a big/SUV car. You can feel it is soft and rubbery (more on it later). Absorbs road imperfections well.
  • Road noise in the cabin is Ok. Not great, just Ok.
  • standard (L trim) audio system is not great. Just Ok.

Comparing it to my previous car (2013 Chevy Sonic LT hatchback, 1.8L engine):
Advantages of the Sonic:
  • feels more precise in driving it. The Corolla feels a bit like a boat - spongy and not precise. Mind you that is drives Ok and you can control it fine, but it does not feel as precise as the Sonic.
  • automatic transmission feels better/more normal than the CVT in the Corolla
  • fuel economy seems a bit better (getting 30-31mpg combined with the Sonic; struggling to get high 20s combined with the Corolla Cross)
  • Sonic has better audio system (standard LT system - can't explain it, but the sound is more clear and seems to surround you better)
  • Sonic has rear window wiper (handy in heavy rain)
  • Sonic has remote engine start (on the key fob - none of that cloud nonsense)
  • Sonic has a folding key. What were Toyota thinking? - 20K vehicle with the cheapest and stabby looking key fob. Come on, I would have paid the $5 more to get a switch blade style key fob.
  • Sonic has Auto lights: I don't have to think about turning on/off the headlights in the Sonic. It just does it depending on the outside light conditions. However, the Corolla LE seems to have this Auto feature as well... I would have considered it a basic feature. What's the point of fancy Safety Sense 2.0, if you don't turn on the lights automatically in low light conditions.
  • Sonic has more intermediate speeds for the windshield wipers, Corolla seems to have only three.
  • Sonic has a better organized interior: lots of storage spaces, head unit USB is in the glove box (so you can put a USB stick loaded with MP3s and have it as an audio source out of the way), trunk is better organized with plenty of under the floor storage
  • in the Sonic you can change the outside temperature indicator from Fahrenheit to Celsius if you want to. Apparently this would be too expensive/complicated to program in the Settings menu.
  • 10 airbags in the Sonic vs 9 in the Corolla Cross
  • better visibility out the back window vs the Corolla. Yes, the Corolla has the backup camera, but I'm an older driver and I have the habit formed to look behind me when I reverse.
  • mechanical hand brake: just feel more normal than a push button brake - inspires more confidence
  • alloy wheels (part of the LT trim)

Advantages of the Corolla:
  • feels more solid: taller, a bit wider and hefty
  • feels safer: like you are surrounded by more car
  • taller ride gives you the impression you have better visibility. Also, at night, you don't get bothered as much by the headlights of the cars behind you because of limited visibility at the back and the taller ride (every derp nowadays apparently can easily chuck in a couple of million lumens LED bulbs in their headlights).
  • radar assisted cruise control for those once or twice occasions in a year when I'm going to use it
  • lane keep assist (which you have to enable manually when you want it active)
  • nicer interior (the three tone colors look better and the trim pieces look nicer)
  • more comfortable seats and, with the softer suspension, a more comfortable ride
  • more cargo space
  • towing capability (as limited as it is)
  • Android Auto or Apple Carplay (even though it is wired only)
  • rear console air vents (for the passengers in the back)

Projects for the future on the Corolla Cross:
  • finding storage organizers to compensate for poor design (a lot of interior space is wasted - feels like they took the interior of a smaller car and just stretched it to fit a bigger car)
  • disabling the data siphoning vehicle tracking systems installed by Toyota
  • buying an after market cargo cover for the trunk area
  • installing self adhesive sound deadening materials in the trunk area (under the spare wheel and cargo floor mats) - I did this on the Sonic and it made for a huge improvement in the road noise coming from the back of the car

These are my personal opinions, don't get offend. I might have missed some stuff - I got the car a week ago after all (place an order mid October, supposed to receive it end of October, but it ended up arriving mid November).
I would love to hear your impressions and improvements suggestions.
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
It's a bit of a wash. The Sonic is fun to drive and it has quite a few convenience features I wish the Cross had. The Cross does temper me down in traffic, and maybe I'll get better mileage out of it as well... The LE version would have been a better choice, but it would have come up to an additional $4000 (taxes included). What I think I would want would be the LE AWD Hybrid. Feels like that would be a more complete package and a true upgrade from the Sonic.
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
I've been looking for a new car since the summer. You could tell that the market was skewed towards seller power. That was the only dealership with which I had a good interaction and overall good experience. I also liked Aldrin, the rep that helped me choose this car. No pressure sales tactics, no shady statements, no pushing of expensive accessories; showed me the pricing breakdown, the upcoming inventory - all upfront. He actually endured my many many questions and my quirkiness throughout the entire sales process. Unexpectedly nice experience considering the state of the market right now.
 

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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
Here are some other things I noticed as I am using the Cross. Of course, my reference point is my old car, the Sonic.

Tire pressure:
The driver door sill label says that front tires should be at 33 psi, rear at 29 psi. The dashboard display says all four tires are at the same pressure: 39 to 40 psi. I guess they were inflated to that at the factory... I'm not sure if this is a problem or not. I'll have to research the specs for the Continental tires it has and see what pressure I should keep in them. I'll also double check with a tire pressure gauge.

Mileage:
I've been watching the dash indicator more often to look for the green leaf (ECO driving). I also did a bit more highway driving. The mileage has gone up to 30 mpg. Getting close to what the Sonic could do.

CVT vs 6 speed automatic:
The CVT is a bit annoying. I really liked how the 6 speed automatic in the Sonic behaved, especially at high speed. The Sonic liked to run. Once you'd get up to 65mph on relatively level road, it would get into a "happy" gear ratio and it would feel like the engine was just idling (no effort - foot not even resting on the accelerator, just lightly touching it). I could tell that it was happy to just run forever at that speed.
The Cross requires me to press the accelerator even at high speeds. The only times I get it close to that smooth running like the Sonic is when going downhill.
One other thing I noticed is that the Sonic would engine break when going downhill at low speeds. The Cross just slides down the hill at any speed. I don't know if the Sonic was safer/better, or it was a design flaw... It's just something I noticed.

Engine noise:
I thought the Sonic's clickitty-clack 1.8L engine was noisy. After all, it is a cheap, not very refined engine. But the Cross' engine is even louder. I can hear it in the cabin louder. I've driven cars with diesel engines that were quieter and more refined. Also, when accelerating, the Sonic's engine would "growl" (like it was getting angry, sort of a nicer sound), while the Cross' engine seems to be "groaning" (an unpleasant droning sound).

Rear window getting dirty:
The rear window of the Cross has gotten dirty fast. It is annoying that it does not have a sprayer and wiper to clear it a bit. It's been one week since I got the car, in the Pacific Northwest rainy weather. The windshield and side windows are clean, almost like new, but the rear has dust stuck to it after rain. Also, when it rains the visibility out the rear drops a lot. I miss the rear wiper in the Sonic.

DRL:
The Cross has Daytime Running Lights. But for some reason, Toyota decided that the rear lights should not come on with the DRL. Just the headlights come on. How difficult would have been to turn on the rear lights as well? This is where I start to think that "we give customers the Safety Sense 2.0 on all trim levels because we care about their safety" is nothing more than marketing noise.

Trunk space organization:
This is an odd one. The Cross has a big trunk. Very nice to have. But the under floor storage nooks and crannies are poorly designed. I like to permanently keep in the trunk a car size fire extinguisher, reflective vest and emergency lights, tire inflator, squeegee and ice scraper, some reusable shipping bags etc. In the Sonic I could tuck those away in nooks and little cubby holes in the trunk and have a clean look, and plenty of regular storage. The Cross is poorly designed. Lots of empty space, but not practical. And the rounded side spaces towards the rear of the trunk are difficult to use to organize stuff. I'm sure in time I'll find a solution, but the Corolla brand as a practical car is diminished when the designers can't be bothered to organizing options to the customers. I don't plan on hauling just sheet rock and Ikea furniture, so just a big empty space of an odd shape is not very practical to me.

Engine auto start/stop:
I'm trying to get used to the auto start/stop of the engine. I know it saves fuel. It does delay starting from a stop so you have to mind it when you are waiting on a side road to merge into a busy main road.

Auto parking brake:
The Cross has a push button parking brake. I thought I would have to manually engage/disengage it when parking, but it seems like it can do it on its own. When you put it in Park it activates the brake and when you put it in Drive or Reverse, it takes it off. It has a one or two seconds delay. I will get used to it.

Improvements I made so far:

If you have ideas for improvements and organizing tips, please share. Thanks
 

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Thanks for taking the time to give your initial impressions; great feedback. Some of the YouTube reviewers also said the CVT could be better (even though it has a real first gear) and that the engine, while very reliable, was "unrefined". (Its what Toyota calls a "Dynamic Force" engine with dual fuel injectors--port and direct).
 

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Re the tire pressure: I've read that the factory over-inflates the tires for transportation purposes. It's part of the Dealer's Pre-Delivery Inspection (PDI) to lower them to the appropriate level. (speaks to the thoroughness of the PDI).
Re noise from engine: In the YouTube videos I've seen of the Cross, the XLE Trim has a sound deadening pad attached to the underside of the hood; lower level trims did not seem to have it. Maybe you could purchase that part from your dealer and install it-maybe that would mitigate the engine sound a bit. Just an idea...
 

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A lot of great information here! Thanks so much for sharing @mike-p! How easy was your dashboard camera to set up?

Also, of all those items you say you liked to keep in the cubby holes of your sonic. How much have you been able to fit in the Corolla Cross and how much didn't fit?
 

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Now that you're a Toyota owner, I recommend the YouTube channel "The Car Care Nut". It's done by an 11 year Toyota Master mechanic who works at a Toyota dealership in Illinois. He has lots of great videos on Toyota maintenance and presents them well.
 

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Discussion Starter · #11 ·
@PNWCCFAN
Thank you for the advice.
Tire pressure:
I did not know about the tires being overinflated for shipping purposes. I guess I can lower them down if I decide to. I read a bunch of forums where people were discussing inflating to car manufacturer spec vs. inflating to 5%-10% below of tire manufacturer max spec. Opinions seem divided.
My Sonic had a specified tire pressure of 35 to 38 psi cold. And the car is lighter. Seems odd that the Cross has the pressure specified as 33psi front/29psi rear. It's a heavier car and it is supposed to be capable of towing - which can add weight. I though the higher the weight - the higher the pressure should be...
The Continental ProContact TX the Cross has list a max fill pressure of 51 psi. Having it at 40 psi (20% less) seems a bit more reasonable somehow. I'll have to think more about this.
Engine noise:
I think most of the noise at the front comes through the firewall. That's how I imagine the vibrations travelling anyways - more through metal, less through air. Dampening the hood a bit might help, but I have my doubts it will make for a significant improvement. I guess I can try it and see. This will be a project for another time.
Toyota owner:
I had a 1994 Toyota Camry (4 cylinders) for 8 years before the Sonic. So yeah, I was spoiled on reliability. Great car. Bought it used at 123K, parted with it at 175K. Things that I replaced were tires, battery, brake pads and brake master cylinder. So regular wear items. The brake master cylinder started loosing fluid pressure because I never replaced the brake fluid, and I suspect the previous owner did not either. It got contaminated and wore a tiny hole in a gasket somewhere.
Once the Corolla Cross reaches a larger audience, I'm sure this forum will grow and we'll see more advice, tips, tricks and overall ideas about it.

@High Rolla
Dashboard camera:
The dashcam was easy to set up. I put it on the passenger side, behind the mirror, stuck to the black dots area, with the lens peeking under that area. It is well out of the way - should be fully compliant with Washington state laws. I went with that specific camera model because it was budget friendly and it will warn you that there is a problem with the SD card on boot. Most cameras don't warn you and sometimes I found the card corrupted or full of locked files. Theoretically you're supposed to check the card every now and then (once a moth someone said somewhere), but I usually set it and forget about it. So having a warning is nice.
Space limitations:
If you look at the pictures of an interior of a Sonic you will see:
  • tray on top of the dash: useful for tossing things in temporarily
  • two cubby holes on the sides of the head unit: very handy for keeping masks for me and my wife, plus alcohol wipes
  • card slot below the head unit: did not use it as a card slot, but installed a piece of metal to which I clamped a cellphone holder that would normally be clamped on the vent blades (so I don't break the vent blades)
  • center storage cubby hole below the head unit: where I could keep a lot of small stuff
  • three cup holders: no armrest storage space, but the cup holders were useful for storing stuff
  • two glove box compartments: one regular glove box for car manual, registration, flash light etc. And one smaller glove box on top of the regular one: which had inside the head connected USB port and AUX port (very handy for plugging an mp3 loaded USB stick); and I would also store an emergency seatbelt cutter/window breaker and a digital tire pressure gauge.
  • trunk had a floor that could be raised a bit so you could store a bunch of things on top of the spare tire: I kept a cross bar for lug nuts, a set of wrenches, 12V tire inflator pump, emergency vest and lights, fire extinguisher plus other useful things.
Unfortunately the Cross does not have even half of that practicality. It has a huge, protruding dash board - which I believe is hollow, small storage space on the center console, two cup holders, a tiny storage space under the armrest and a regular glove box. The trunk does not have the same versatility as in the Sonic either. It is just a cavernous space. I'm looking at purchasing a trunk organizer to keep some things in it.
I'm no interior designer, but I can't believe they would not be able to engineer some storage spaces if they cared. Most of it is molded plastic anyway and this is a utility vehicle, not a luxury sedan.
 
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