Review: Toyota Corolla Cross Hybrid Vehicle (HV)

Published January 22, 2021, 12:07 PM

by Inigo Roces

Cross my heart

Text and photos by Eric Tipan

As of late last year, the LTO said there are over 1.3 million private vehicles in the Philippines, and that’s not even counting the ones that aren’t registered yet, or weren’t able to because of COVID-19.

Out of that lot, the DTI says only a measly 4,362 are xEVs, which is an acronym that refers to any of the four types of battery electric vehicles available in the market – hybrid electric vehicle, plug-in hybrid electric vehicle, battery electric vehicle, and fuel cell electric vehicle. That’s a paltry 0.32% of all passenger cars in the country.

Toyota Motor Philippines wants to change that picture with an affordable hybrid vehicle in a popular crossover body, the Toyota Corolla Cross HV (Hybrid Vehicle). I spent a week with it and immediately fell in love.

While the Corolla Cross shares the same TNGA (Toyota New Global Architecture) C platform with its namesake, its attractive features come from the RAV4.

It’s not as boxy, comes with slightly smaller dimensions, and has a more svelte look. These are qualities modern city-types look for; pretty but not designed to death. The late Steve Jobs summed up that sentiment with the phrase, “Simplicity is the ultimate sophistication.”

As a crossover, ground clearance is a modest 161 mm and I believe that’s just the right height for the young market that loves wearing the skinny jeans.

What it has over the RAV4, aside from hybrid tech, is the all LED lighting setup (from the bi-beam headlamps, daytime running lamps, fog lamps, to the taillights).

I love how it also has Apple CarPlay, Android Auto, and Bluetooth connectivity.

NVH dampening was very high for a mass market nameplate. This one fancy neighborhood uses slabs of paving stones to slow down traffic approaching the guard house. Vehicles I bring over usually get the shakes, but not the Corolla Cross. It was surprisingly good that it belied the 18s it was running on.

Handling is terrific. It feels like sedan and swings around corners easily while keeping its balance, and steering is wonderfully light.

Plus, it can take in at least 440 liters worth of cargo even with the 60:40 split-folding and reclining second-row seats up.

If you haven’t been in a hybrid, one thing that never fails to surprise is how quiet it is when on EV (electric vehicle) mode because the engine is off while it runs on pure battery power.

And you don’t need to charge it. Toyota’s Hybrid Synergy Drive system does that by itself. When the battery runs low, it fires up the engine to keep the vehicle going while charging the battery. It also takes kinetic energy produced during braking and puts it in the battery. When it collects enough, the engine is turned off and it’s back to EV mode, which saves you a ton of gas.

Meanwhile, you’re having fun driving with a fuel consumption rate of a motorcycle – 17 kilometers per liter, in traffic – while keeping your emissions low.

It uses two power sources, a 1.8L four-cylinder engine with VVT-i that puts out 98 PS and a motor generator with 72 PS. Together, a total output of 122 PS and 142 Nm of torque is sent to the front wheels via a CVT (continuously variable transmission).

As you can see, the motor generator (EV mode) doesn’t really put out much but if you need to overtake, the engine automatically kicks in to give you that extra boost.

Another great thing about the Corolla Cross HV is it’s just the third Toyota model to get TSS (Toyota Safety Sense) after the Super Grandia and the Alphard. It comes with Pre-Collision System (PCS) which can help prevent a collision with a vehicle or pedestrian in certain situations; Automatic High Beam (AHB) that automatically toggles between high and low beams when there’s oncoming traffic; Lane Tracing Assist (LTA) keeps the vehicle centered and in its lane; Lane Departure Alert (LDA) warns the driver when it senses that the vehicle has veered from its lane; and Adaptive Cruise Control (ACC) automatically adjusts speed to assists in maintaining a preset distance from the car in front.

All of that, plus amazing fuel returns, for Php 1.650 million. How? Because of the ASEAN Free Trade Agreement.

I know there’s still a lot Filipinos don’t know about hybrids but there’s so much information out there already. For a country ranked 12th highest worldwide in terms of the number of internet users, we ought to know by now, right?

So, fire up the internet browser and see how easy is to fall in love with the Toyota Corolla Cross HV.