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2023's most wanted car: Why you should order a Toyota Corolla Cross hybrid right now | Opinion

Slotting between the Yaris Cross and RAV4, the Corolla Cross will give Toyota blanket SUV and crossover coverage in Australia.

Alongside death and taxes, you can now add new Toyotas to life’s few certainties.

If there’s one thing we’ve learnt over the past couple of years, it’s that securing a RAV4 hybrid, HiLux, C-HR hybrid, Yaris Cross hybrid, GR Yaris, any LandCruiser including Prado, Kluger hybrid and coming GR Corolla early will pay off.

Why wait until everybody’s jumped on the bandwagon. Get in quick to avoid price rises, into-next-year delivery and the subsequent disappointment these would bring.

So, it’s a no-brainer that Australians ought to get on the ground floor right now with Toyota’s latest offering, the Corolla Cross. Announced in mid-2020 but still not due until the latter part of this year, the hype surrounding this Kia Seltos-sized small SUV has had two years to go into overdrive, with waiting times set to inevitably blow right out once people can actually see and touch it in the metal.

Our advice is to place an order with a fully-refundable deposit. Choose the hybrids (two types are anticipated). Preferably go up-spec but OK if base. And be bold with colours, especially if they’re the flat-pastel variety that seem to tickle Toyota’s fancy of late. Silver, white, black and grey are fleet fodder nowadays and you’ll be rewarded for your bravery come resale time should you choose to ignore them.

“But what if it’s a dog to drive?”

Unlikely. It doesn’t matter that nobody outside of Toyota has turned a wheel of a Corolla Cross in Australia, because of the solid Toyota New Global Architecture (TNGA) engineering. A known quantity by now, it ensures a consistently high level of quality, safety, comfort, refinement, performance, economy, equipment and operating ease, underpinned by low servicing costs. And it will be built in Japan, which is another bonus.

And if you disagree and don’t like the Corolla Cross after taking delivery for whatever reason, even after several months in – fine. Slap on a ‘For Sale’ sticker and brace for a barrage of enquiries from buyers tired of waiting for their backorders to be fulfilled.

In fact, you might make a profit anyway, because of the predicted soaring demand and production caps. Have you seen the sky-high prices of slightly-used Toyota hybrids over the past couple of years? And not just in Australia, but globally.

But there’s something more that sets the Corolla Cross apart even more so than other Toyotas, which may result in it being the company’s best-selling vehicle over time.

Consider that it’s an SUV in a market/world gone gaga over them. It’s a hybrid when everybody wants a hybrid. And it should hit the sweet spot for interior packaging, sitting in the famous 1963-1965 Holden EH ‘Goldilocks Zone’: large enough to be a family car but compact enough for singles/couples.

Some 60 years may separate the design but, dimensionally, only a handful of millimetres sits between the Toyota and Australia’s most beloved Holden.

Then there’s the pricing factor.

Unannounced as yet, but unless its maker gets greedy, Corolla Cross pricing is expected to be competitive. The smaller Yaris Cross starts from $26,990 before on-road costs and the bigger RAV4 from $34,400, so let’s split the difference at $31,000 – or $2500 more for the hybrid. This could put it on a par with the related, though ageing, C-HR.

Another advantage of the Toyota is the breadth of powertrain choices. Front-wheel drive (2WD) petrol and hybrid drivetrains, as well as an all-wheel-drive model with an Australian-first 2.0-litre hybrid powertrain, with two electric motors, have already been confirmed. Music to the ears of family and fleet buyers alike. Exact specs should be revealed shortly.

 Finally, the Corolla Cross is a Toyota and everything that implies in terms of quality, reliability and resale.

Japan’s number one brand has managed to do something no other carmaker has in Australia since Holden ruled the roost in the 1950s and 1960s – become the default choice for many car buyers.

In a nutshell, it’s achieved this rarefied position through decades of prioritising reliability, quality, low-running costs, dealership accessibility and more recently electrification. People trust Toyota, to steal a Holden slogan of the 1970s.

Then there’s the fact that Toyota is synonymous with hybrid. Nobody – not even progressives like Hyundai, Kia, Honda and Nissan – can approach this level of recognition. Not yet, anyway. In an era where fuel prices are at historical highs and consumers are scrambling for salvation, is there a carmaker in a better position to capitalise on that? Thanks to what Prius started, the hybrid chickens have come home to roost.

Essentially, the world has woken up to what it means to buy a Toyota.

In a very uncertain 2022, so should you if you haven’t already, which is why, given how on form Toyota is, the smart money is ordering a Corolla Cross right now.