Here’s Why the Base Toyota Corolla Cross Still Has a Physical Key

“It turns out there was a design change on the hardware and the new starters needed the key to be held about 0.5 seconds longer,” he says. “The problem was that some folks who renewed leases were ‘key bursters’ who would hold the key for just a short burst of time. Before the hardware change, that quick burst was long enough to get a good steady crank and fire. After the design change, that same burst wasn’t long enough, and the engine would sometimes stall.”

And it’s even harder to get a good second start due to engine flooding and a subsequently weaker battery, making the problem even worse. 

“So to fix this, the client implemented new code that was more digital in nature,” Sherman says. “The driver indicated a desire to start the engine, the software would then figure out how long to crank to get you a good start. The key, at this point, was reduced to a formality; it was the request to crank that mattered, not how long it was held cranking by the customer. The next logical step was just to delete the key altogether and use a button to request the crank. And thus push-button start arrived.”

In 2014, Edmunds reported that the cost to replace a keyed ignition with a push-button start is estimated to be between $75 and $125, which doesn’t seem like a lot until you multiply that by millions (or even thousands) vehicles sold. As manufacturers look closely at data extrapolated from a growing number of sources, other a la carte options may emerge.  

All three trim levels of the Corolla Cross (L, LE, and XLE) come with the same engine, a 169-horsepower 2.0-liter naturally-aspirated inline-four; AWD adds $1,300 to the price point. The bottom line: if a push-button starter is important to you, it’s going to cost you an extra $3,650 for the LE model, but you’ll also get wireless charging, a one-inch-larger MID, and blind-spot monitoring with rear cross-traffic alert. And that last one, to me, is worth the upgrade even more than ditching the keyed ignition. 

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