Toyota fills subcompact crossover white space

PLANO, Texas — Toyota will become the latest brand to double up in the growing, competitive subcompact crossover segment with the arrival of the 2022 Toyota Corolla Cross, which aims to give consumers a midpoint between the brand’s subcompact C-HR hatchback and its popular compact RAV4.

The new model, making its U.S. debut here on Wednesday and expected to arrive in fall, shares the TNGA-C platform with the Corolla sedan and borrows the powertrain from the car’s sportier grades. The 169-hp I-4 engine is mated to a continuously variable transmission and is capable of towing up to 1,500 pounds. With standard front-wheel drive, the Corolla Cross is expected to be rated at 32 mpg combined. All-wheel drive is optional.

Toyota is building the Corolla Cross at a new joint-venture factory it operates with Mazda in Huntsville, Ala.

The subcompact crossover market is on fire and has attracted newer entries such as the Chevrolet Trailblazer, Buick Encore GX, Kia Seltos, Mazda CX-30 and Hyundai Venue. Each of those brands has a second vehicle in the segment: Chevrolet Trax, Buick Encore, Kia Niro, Mazda CX-3 and Hyundai Kona.

U.S. sales in the segment grew 4.8 percent to more than 892,000 in 2020, when the broader market contracted amid the coronavirus pandemic, and 44 percent in the first quarter, making it the third-biggest utility segment — mass market or luxury — behind midsize and large crossovers.

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