Home » I Think I Found The Big Flaw In The Otherwise Great Toyota Corolla Cross Hybrid

I Think I Found The Big Flaw In The Otherwise Great Toyota Corolla Cross Hybrid

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Back in November, our own Publisher Matt Hardigree slipped his local fleet manager a crisp $2 bill from his velcro wallet and requested he be “hooked up” with a brand-new Toyota Corolla Cross Hybrid XSE. As always, it worked, and as a result we got this quite glowing review of a very clever and affordable new Toyota. Just the other day, my press car fleet team air-dropped the exact same car to me, even in the same quite fantastic golden yellow color. In my so-far limited time with the car, I agree with Matt’s assessment. Well, except for one thing: he seems to have left out the Toyota Corolla Cross Hybrid’s biggest flaw, which I intend to show you now.

Why Matt did this is a mystery to me; is he taking some kind of payoff from Toyota? Maybe? He’s always talking about his name-brand paper towels and buying mid-range gasoline, which is the sort of thing you’d expect of someone on the take. It could be Toyota has dirt on him as well; Matt seems a little too together, if you know what I mean. There has to be some dark filling inside that alabaster Twinkie-cake. [Ed note: It’s true, I do wear only the finest Kirkland Brand boxer briefs. – MH]

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Anyway, the hideous flaw that Matt neglected to mention at all is in the cargo area of the Corolla Cross, which is adequate, but not really all that impressive. In a car like this, a general-use family crossover that’s designed to be used for outings and road trips and fun days at the lake or the ravine or the gravel pits or wherever, cargo space is really important.

And Toyota is squandering it. Foolishly.

To explain, let’s look at the cargo area of the Corolla Cross Hybrid:

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Cargoarea

It’s fine. Nothing really special, but nothing really wrong with it, either. It’d be nice if it had, say, a hidden compartment that could be used for, say, wet or messier things that wouldn’t get the main cargo area all dirty, right? Sure it would!

Let’s look at what’s under that cargo floor panel:

Underfloor

Like many modern cars, possibly most, the Corolla Cross Hybrid shuns a spare tire, opting instead for a tire inflation kit. The unibody is still designed to have a spare tire well, for the versions that do decide to carry a spare, but for all the others, like the Hybrid, that volume of space is filled with this massive molded styrofoam, uh, thing. Toyota isn’t the only carmaker to do this, but it’s one of the more egregious examples I’ve seen lately.

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This giant foam Oreo houses the tire sealant stuff and the inflation canister, and has three shallow and almost uselessly-shaped cubbies for…I’m not sure what. A good-sized sandwich? A large zucchini? An old Game Boy? There’s also some shaped cut-outs for what may have been parts of a jack, but those are absent here, just defined by their negative space.

This thing is at the core of the Corolla Cross Hybrid’s fatal flaw: usable space is being denied to the owner, and I hate that. I’ve picked on carmakers for committing this sin before, such as what Volkswagen is doing by denying ID.4 owners a front trunk. Let’s just see how much space Toyota is denying you:

Underfloor Exposed1

That big serpentine orange cable is what carries electrons from the centrally/under-rear seat-mounted battery pack to the rear electric motor unit, as you can see at the right of this diagram:

 

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Toyota Corolla Cross Hybrid Awd Layout

And, sure, that’s a bulky cable, but it hardly demands all that space back there. Let’s do some quick measurements:

Underfloor Exposed2

That’s a well that’s almost eight inches deep and almost 32 inches in diameter! Actually, “diameter” is sort of a deceptive word, because those plastic things that define the round shape of the well are removable! The one on the right just came out by lifting; the left one was secured in with a little plastic tab I didn’t want to break, but you get the idea:

Underfloor Stuffremoved

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That’s a hell of a lot of room under there! Room that you have no easy access to because it’s been filled up with crap you don’t need or want. This crap, specifically:

Bigthings

This crap is bulky, and I guarantee you that were I to hand these things to a new Toyota Corolla Cross Hybrid owner out of context and say hey, would you mind hauling all this bulky, useless shit around in the back of your car for as long as you own it? ‘Preesh! I’m pretty sure the Toyota Corolla Cross Hybrid owner would give me a firm shove in the center of my chest, sending me tumbling backwards with my armload of black styrofoam and plastic.

Toyota is already molding two plastic pieces and a big styrofoam thing here – why couldn’t they have molded a plastic tub to go inside that well instead, covering the electric cable to the motor but still leaving the vast majority of that space usable? It’d be a perfect place to store wet swimsuits or muddy boots or tools or other stuff you don’t want soiling the carpet above. It’d just be useful, a hell of a lot more useful than a huge styrofoam hockey puck that does absolutely nothing for you.

Maybe this seems a trivial complaint, but I know that when it comes to cars, details matter. A convenient cubby in a car for stuff you don’t want in the main cargo area can be part of the calculus that makes you decide if your car is one you think is just okay and one you genuinely love.

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This just feels like Toyota fell short of making the best possible car for their customers, and I hate to see that.

This is an easy fix, Toyota! I believe in you!

[Ed note: The Corolla Cross Hybrid is high on my list of replacements for my Subaru and if I get it I’m definitely going to have a better foam thing molded here. – MH]

Relatedbar

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German EV Makers Don’t Seem To Care About Frunks And I Think That’s Pretty Weird

 

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Christopher Warren
Christopher Warren
25 days ago

Way late on commenting, not sure why I missed this when posted, ah well. Besides the wasteful space utilization, it seems the hybrid model was a bit of a late?, addition considered by Toyota. The cargo area side panels molded shape is fine, continuing down to the cargo metal floor and flowing around the wheel wells and various parts located behind them. Then Toyota dictates to the creators, no rubbing or mounting of the hybrid molded spacer inserts against the preexisting side panels and if you could mold the inserts so the cargo carpeting mat is mostly straight sided to reduce material waste, that would be most excellent! This creates the ‘storage crevices’ on either side of the extra inserts that look like the perfect receptacle for various objects, crumbly food stuffs to rattle, lodge and become stuck under the extra inserts, eventually causing madness from bump rattling and expired food smells.

Just an observation, please carry on with whatever mayhem you’re currently involved with.

Erik Waiss
Erik Waiss
27 days ago

1-up the old CR-V and include a bitchin’ folding table…

Xpumpx
Xpumpx
28 days ago

It doesn’t solve the wasted storage space, but does the square cover have an easier to clean rubber reverse side for dirtier stuff. My wife’s Jeep Cherokee is set up this way.

MikeInTheWoods
MikeInTheWoods
28 days ago

They could have been heros and pulled a 90’s Honda trick and made it a mess storage bin with the cover being a pull out table. Or a slide out cargo tray since Americans keep peaking at laziness in ways that defy logic.

Urban Runabout
Urban Runabout
28 days ago

You guys should do a marketing tie-in with the folks at WeatherTech for Autopian-branded under-cargo floor trays and frunk bins.
You’re welcome.

Jakob K's Garage
Jakob K's Garage
29 days ago

I have experienced the opposite: The trunk in my old 1967 Citroën DS is really deep, so to not having to reach all the way down there, I have a home made plywood plate with a hinge above the bottom 8 inches of space. Carrying some spare parts down there in the “lower trunk” so they don’t mix with regular luggage.

The spare tyre is in front of the radiator duct, and with the engine all the way up under the front windscreen there is plenty of space in the front also, for jumper cables, tow rope, warning triangle, tyre jack, and a big portions of tools.

Wonderful car… when it runs 😉

Freelivin1327
Freelivin1327
29 days ago

Yeah, what a waste of space. Also, to all these companies getting rid of spares: STOP…you are fucking stupid. I don’t like new cars and will never, ever get one but this is yet another reason I would flat out refuse to get one (Along w/ all the million screens, plastic junk, lack of buttons, “fixing” things that were never broken, most cars look the same, boring colors, overweight behemoths etc etc etc) Tire inflation kit? Fuck off w/ that shit that doesn’t do anything! A damn donut tire doesn’t take up that much space/weight and saves the day especially if you have a hole in the sidewall…fucking fools
“Ya big dummy!” -Fred Sanford

David Radich
David Radich
29 days ago

Oh my gosh this! I have a Corolla hybrid hatch as a work car and it is equipped with a spare tire. The boot is so unusably small because of it. They could have been a bit smarter with the packaging. Under the false floor the Jack and tools are packed on top of the tire, then underneath there is the tire. What they could have done is put the Jack etc inside the rim of the wheel, like it is on both our outback and Kuga, it would have given it about 6 inches more height in the boot, this would be fantastic, but no, instead they just gave it a smaller boot than a Yaris! The models without the spare have an acceptable amount of space

Jim Stock
Jim Stock
30 days ago

I thought the big storage flaw was the sloped back that took away all kinds of usable space for cargo and tall dogs.

D-dub
D-dub
28 days ago
Reply to  Jim Stock

It’s literally the reason it fell off my list when I was shopping late last year. Too low in the back for full size puppers.

Jim Stock
Jim Stock
28 days ago
Reply to  D-dub

my friend and I were talking about her shopping for a not luxury costing replacement for her flex. She has 2 Rhodesian Ridgebacks, I have 3, and we were struggling with a decent list because nearly all crossovers CUVs etc have such a slopped back and she does not want a big SUV. My 3 fit fine in the back of my Wrangler 4d.

D-dub
D-dub
27 days ago
Reply to  Jim Stock

I ended up with a Kia Seltos. It’s got the biggest interior for the smallest exterior in the class. Nice straight roofline. Fingers crossed on the reliability, but it does have that 10 year warrantee.

Jim Stock
Jim Stock
27 days ago
Reply to  D-dub

The only thing that as gone bad on my kid’s 2016 kia soul after 85K is one bad gas cap.

Jason Smith
Jason Smith
27 days ago
Reply to  Jim Stock

There is a glaring lack of vehicles that fit this niche. Our 99 Forrester was our dog (2 German Shepherds) car a) because it was a 99 Forrester and not nice enough to worry about the fur/mess and b) it had a tall enough greenhouse to allow them both to stand in the back, yeah they’d have to duck their heads but they could at least stand.
They fit more comfortably in that car than my wife’s 2020 Rav4, a much bigger vehicle…

Last edited 27 days ago by Jason Smith
Jim Stock
Jim Stock
27 days ago
Reply to  Jason Smith

You are very correct!
People crap on Jeep Wranglers all the time but I can easily get 3 70+ pound Rhodesian Ridgebacks in the back behind the back seat in my JKU.

Chartreuse Bison
Chartreuse Bison
30 days ago

The best part is the cut-outs in the foam showing you all the tools you didn’t get, because they aren’t required in the US

BobWellington
BobWellington
30 days ago

The big flaw is that this is a crossover.

The F--kshambolic Cretinoid Harvey Park
The F--kshambolic Cretinoid Harvey Park
29 days ago
Reply to  BobWellington

Sigh

GFunk
GFunk
30 days ago

We test drove one a few months ago when looking for a new car. They’ve wasted a ton of space all the way around – interior is much tighter than it needs to be in every dimension & Torch’s critique of the cargo space is spot-on. The Cross isn’t small overall, but the interior feels downright claustrophobic. We ended up getting a redesigned Impreza instead, which feels downright cavernous in comparison.

TDI in PNW
TDI in PNW
30 days ago

I bought a tiny sports car and it has a really well packaged trunk. There’s no lip to prevent egress from the trunk floor out the hatch; it’s flat like an SUV. Under that floor, which also folds//locks up neatly to the seatback, is a lot of useable space to store things. The new Rogue my mother bought also has a nice under floor storage area.

For what should be an economy / family car, Toyota really boned the storage up.

PajeroPilot
PajeroPilot
30 days ago

Why have they routed the cable like that? It almost looks like an aftermarket hack job. The cable even seems unnecessarily long, which must cost a few bucks per car. Anyone got any idea why they wouldn’t have it running more neatly along the right hand side of the car? There must be a good reason because it looks dumb.

Captain Muppet
Captain Muppet
29 days ago
Reply to  PajeroPilot

Those cables have a very large minimum radius, which makes packaging them awkward. If they had a requirement for that connector to be somewhere dry and accessible then you can easily find yourself in a situation where you have loops of the orange cable all over the place.

I’ve done powertrain packaging for hybrids, REEVs and EVs and trying to connect up all the HV stuff is a nightmare.

PajeroPilot
PajeroPilot
28 days ago
Reply to  Captain Muppet

An amazingly detailed, expert response. The Autopian readership is a wealth of knowledge!

Clupea Hangoverus
Clupea Hangoverus
30 days ago

Rented one just, took a quick look under the cover, thought: stupid, but at least you can throw the pointless bits away. Apparently not so easy. The most infuriating thing: this is just a Corolla packed into a slightly taller, but significantly more expensive shape. Just more cowbell, sorry, crossover. And then you cheap out on simple details. (Ok, ok, the sound insulation is better compared to Corolla Wagon.)
Somehow there are still worse examples: ditch the spare, stick the full size 12V battery in the middle of the trunk floor! Looking at you, Kuga (Escape) phev. Or Hyundai i20, which lost maybe third of its trunk to the mild hybrid battery. Why not put the battery to the side and free some storage space? No, lets waste it! Nobody will notice as they will be admiring the lack of a load lip, genius!

DirkPitt
DirkPitt
30 days ago

I am pretty sure it has to do with the added production complexity of using the existing welding jig and modifying it to fit the hybrid parts. The reason the cable isn’t routed along the side of the floor pan, and is bolted to that part in the middle of it instead, because that’s where they could make a mount fit the existing welding jig. A lot of design decisions in manufacturing are made this way. Interesting to note, the upper rear floor pan (oem part 583010A901) for the 2wd is actually a little bit deeper than the floor pan for the hybrid, I think because of some additional parts under the body that need more space on the hybrid.

Henry Smith
Henry Smith
30 days ago

The Toyota Prius AWD does exactly the same thing. When I saw it at the auto show last year I thought it was a very poor piece of design and packaging. I expected better from Toyota. I mean they could have stamped a small recess into the metal as a channel for the power cable but to leave it just lying there made me think for a moment that it was a preproduction car. Especially with that weird angle where the cable drops into the floor. I expected better, it’s not like the Prius was designed to be anything other than a hybrid. Unlike the Corolla Cross.

I really like the way the Prius looks but with the poor packaging and the unnecessarily small trunk I think I would have to give it a pass. Especially when we don’t get the front wheel drive version in Canada and the cheapest is almost $46,000 tax in the soft pass becomes a hard pass.

Cerberus
Cerberus
30 days ago

The GR86 does this, too, though the pieces all have better ordered and more numerous cutouts. I keep cleaners, ratchet straps, and that kind of stuff in there and I just pull the whole lot out if needed. A spare can be added easily, too, as there’s even the threaded mounting under the spacer (for markets that require them or marketing feels won’t tolerate them being missing).

Mr Sarcastic
Mr Sarcastic
30 days ago

Hmm needs hidden cargo space? Isn’t that a pullover cargo cover attached to the back of the seats? I’ll leave it to the experts if shoving wet muddy anything right next to electrical things, especially those that run the car.
Although Jason I saw a truck with rear taillights that were nothing but red solo cups stuffed in where the glass was broken. I wish I could post a Pic as I am fairly sure your head would explode.

Mechjaz
Mechjaz
30 days ago

@MH Supima cotton briefs SUPREME cotton briefs amirite

Mechjaz
Mechjaz
30 days ago
Reply to  Mechjaz

so I’m not crowding up the joint with my own chatter:

seriously toyota what the hell. This is one of those things where doing it right would have been so much easier than doing it wrong, and yet

Shooting Brake
Shooting Brake
30 days ago

This is why we need the Torch!!!!

Space
Space
30 days ago

This is preposterous. With a little work Toyota could fit a full size spare there and easily fit a donut.
You are a hero to humanity Torch for brining this to the attention of the masses.

Tagarito
Tagarito
30 days ago
Reply to  Space

The last gen Mitsubishi Lancer had this too, lots of styrofoam fillers in the trunk to accommodate a full size spare. The trunk was practically gone, and so did the line of the Lancer a few years later. A sedan or any car without stowage for a weekend trip is just so sad

Canopysaurus
Canopysaurus
30 days ago

That would be a good place to store my death-ray drone.

Urban Runabout
Urban Runabout
28 days ago
Reply to  Canopysaurus

Rear-firing rocket launchers would fit quite well.

Hoonicus
Hoonicus
30 days ago

“Maybe this seems a trivial complaint” But for the love of all that is holy, How many times do I need to educate you all about EPP (expanded polypropylene) not EPS (expanded polystyrene, Dow chem.- trademark- Styrofoam)! Only EPP, and EPE(expanded polyethylene) are used in automotive applications due to being impervious to gas and oil. EPP is what that is made of- same as bumper cores, but only approx.2 pcf (pounds per cubic foot) rather than 10-15pcf for bumpers.
I despise the lack of a full size spare, especially in the context of a vehicle with off road presumptions, and surprised that HV cable isn’t better secured, and routed around the well so you could put a spare in there, and then have a small EPP leveler that secures the jack, etc.

Mr Sarcastic
Mr Sarcastic
30 days ago
Reply to  Hoonicus

I’m down with EPP. DON’T know the rest of the song

Uninformed Fucknugget
Uninformed Fucknugget
30 days ago
Reply to  Mr Sarcastic

Yeah you know me

Mr Sarcastic
Mr Sarcastic
25 days ago

Yes of course maybe I should be down with whatever is the memory improvement drug of the week.

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