Published on April 30th, 2022 | by Subhash Nair0
Toyota Corolla Cross Review: It’s Great, But You Should Consider The Altis Instead
Our two cents on why the Toyota Corolla Cross outsells the Corolla Altis.
The Toyota Corolla Cross is a popular car. How do I know this? Well, for one, Toyota are back on top in Malaysia in terms of sales. I’m also constantly being asked by friends and relatives if this is a car worth buying. In fact, most aren’t even asking if they should buy the car – they’ve already decided. Now they just want to find a dealership with an available unit! It’s also quite evident that the car is selling well based on how many units I’ve seen on the road in the Klang Valley since its launch just over a year ago.
In stark contrast, the Toyota Corolla Altis hasn’t quite achieved quite as much, despite being on sale in Malaysia since October 2019. It’s nowhere near as popular as its competitors and we’re pretty sure it has already been outsold by the Corolla Cross despite having a headstart. As someone who loves cars, this infuriates me.
You see, I actually respect and admire the 12th generation Toyota Corolla Altis. In my review, I called it a ‘car of substance’ because it truly hit every key metric in terms of its driving characteristics. It also checked every box in terms of equipment and it actually looked pretty nice as well. My feelings for the Corolla Altis aside, it’s actually an objectively better vehicle than the Corolla Cross in almost every way save for form factor.
I will concede that the crossover shape allows for more flexibility in terms of cargo carrying possibilities. I even helped a friend move with the Corolla Cross and was impressed with just how much stuff could go in with the rear seats folded down. I will even admit that from the side profile, the Corolla Cross is a better looking vehicle than its sedan counterpart. Maybe you could make the argument that the higher ground clearance gives the Cross better survivability than the Altis in a mild flood, but I think this isn’t worth mentioning. We’ve seen what floodwaters can do to crossovers like the Subaru XV, so ground clearance may not be enough earn it an extra star here. What about pricing? Well, yes, the Corolla Cross does have the Altis beat there too, but I would argue that that’s not true in terms of value.
Going from an RM129,000 Corolla Cross 1.8V to an RM130,888 Corolla Altis 1.8E immediately gives you a chassis with independent double wishbones at the rear and a full-sized spare tyre. The bigger jump to the Corolla Altis 1.8V represents an increase in budget of about 10%. For that money, you’re also getting an electric parking brake instead of a foot pedal parking brake that thoroughly cheapens the Corolla Cross experience.
What’s more, the Altis 1.8V will also throw in a dual zone automatic climate control system, rear passenger sun blinds, and a 7″ digital instrument cluster. It feels like an entirely more premium car despite sharing so much with the Corolla Cross.
So, why are so many people raving about the Toyota Corolla Cross despite it being objectively worse than the Corolla Altis?
Well, I think the main factor is that Toyota just hasn’t had a product like this before. The HR-V and Subaru XV were both runaway successors for both Japanese brands years back and Toyota just didn’t have something equivalent to fight back with. Many placed hopes on the CH-R, but it was clearly not suited in size and price for our market. Some also didn’t like how radical its styling was.
The Corolla Cross is simply what the market has been waiting for since at least 2014. It’s priced just right for middle income families and it’s almost completely unoffensive to the typical Toyota buyer. If you’re looking for a vehicle that you can transport a family of 5 in comfort, that has some luggage flexibility, great resale value, and reliability, this is 100% a no-brainer. It’s not popular because it’s special. It’s popular because it’s Toyota getting in on the compact crossover trend.
How Does The Corolla Cross Drive?
The Corolla Cross is a comfortable compact crossover that stands out in very subtle ways. The TNGA platform isn’t quite as sophisticated here as it is on the Altis, but comfort still scores good marks. The torsion beam at the rear isn’t half bad, though the Altis is definitely a nicer car to chuck around corners. That being said, we have to acknowledge that neither one of this cars is going to appeal to speed junkies either way. Toyota clearly tuned the Corolla models for refinement and they’ve completely knocked the ball out of the park without overly complicating things.
On paper, it’s just a run-of-the-mill 1.8L 4-pot mated to a CVT under this hood. In reality, this powertrain is buttery smooth. It’s easy to appreciate just how beautifully engineered this set-up is for day-to-day driving. It’s the kind of car that disappears under you and that is something that actually adds value after a particularly stressful day. Fuel efficiency is another strength of this motor, but the Hybrid variant is probably the one to look at for maximum fuel savings.
Is it comfortable? Yes, especially for the front two occupants. Compared to the Corolla Altis, the ride just isn’t as sophisticated and forgiving. What you get is a little more versatility, headroom and cargo space.
I suspect Malaysians will continue to choose the Corolla Cross over the 3-box Altis. It’s just another reality of the market we all have to face. And when it comes down to it, asking a carbuyer to increase their budget by 10% for features they can live without may be a bit silly. The Corolla Cross is a great car overall, but if asked us to drive one for the rest of the year, we’d pick the Altis.