The steering-mounted controls were actually a high-point in this car, perhaps due to the fact that the rest of the interior just sort of blends into the background. The controls for media and driver aids are mounted on different levels to each other on the wheel, not just different buttons on the same surface. This helps mentally delineate them better than you might think. The pattern sewed into the cloth seats was the only other piece of noteworthy design in there, which is pretty typical Toyota. Everything feels fine and it’s definitely good quality stuff, there’s just not much going on.
It was quiet, comfortable, and definitely easy to handle, all at a lower price than the RAV4. In my experience driving it around the Austin, Texas area, it behaved very well. In the city it was easy to navigate through tighter areas, busy traffic, and drive-thrus. On backroads, it cornered acceptably and gave me more power when I wanted it. The Corolla Cross isn’t about spirited driving whatsoever, but we’re well past the point where an entry-level crossover is going to offend anyone behind the wheel. It handles as compliantly as any real buyer would want.
The only catch is really the cabin space, but it’s not a big issue. The rear legroom was a little tight for me, I’m around 5′ 10″, but headroom was more than adequate. Also, since this is a cheaper car—$4,155 cheaper than a base RAV4—nicer options like rear heated seats just aren’t available like they are on some nicer higher trims of this car’s big brother. That’s a drawback, sure, but definitely not a big one.
What some might consider its drawbacks—unmemorable driving dynamics, a sparse interior, limited choices—actually add up to its biggest strength. It may not look like it, but it is truly a Corolla. I mean that as a compliment! Not flashy, not particularly thrilling, but it’s a solid value, well-built and capable with fairly priced options. The promise of a Corolla is if you buy one of these, you’re undoubtedly making a good, sensible choice. That seems to be the case here. It may not be a true “adventure vehicle” like the Hyundai Santa Cruz, but that really doesn’t matter. It’s a Corolla, and not just in name only.
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