Corolla Cross: Ute cases

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Toyota joins the compact crossover party

NO ONE could have possibly predicted the awful, Stranger Things-type 2020 we’ve had thus far.

Families and industries alike have been brought to their knees as the various quarantine restrictions necessitated by COVID-19, at worst, effectively shuttered businesses, grounded transportation, and lopped off employees (to the tune of 45.5% adult joblessness in July, according to the Social Weather Stations).

For an auto industry just starting to recover in sales from the deleterious side effects of the Tax Reform for Acceleration and Inclusion first implemented in 2017, optimism had understandably suffused people ahead of 2020 — only to be dashed most tragically. The direst month in terms of sales was April when, because of the temporary closure of dealerships, member companies of the Chamber of Automotive Manufacturers of the Philippines, Inc. (CAMPI) and Truck Manufacturers Association (TMA) moved a combined, lowest-ever 133 units.

Nonetheless, as seen in other markets, there was pent-up demand in the Philippines which became apparent with the reopening of dealerships. Significantly, the new normal and its social-distancing controls didn’t dampen the spirit of auto companies. One after another, they launched a procession of models (digitally, of course).

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Toyota Motor Philippines Corp. (TMP), the country’s reigning “triple-crown” champ (leading in passenger, commercial and total vehicles sales) for 18 years in a row has had a slew of unveilings as well in the Wigo, Vios, a Hiace variant (the Cargo), and the activation of its leasing service Kinto One (with Toyota Financial Services Philippines). Along with the rejuvenation of its Toyota Certified Used Vehicle program, we can take cognizance of a consistent game plan for the Japan-headquartered car maker.

From here, it appears that TMP (and its executives have said as much as well) is addressing the heightened need for private mobility in the face of a public transportation system both hobbled and restricted. Simply put, TMP wants to give us quality vehicles that are more affordable — with the end goal of getting many of us on the road. It makes good business sense as well knowing what we do about the aforementioned economic hardship — coupled with the banking sector’s more subdued lending appetite.

Having said that, Filipinos, like a huge chunk of the global audience, are undeniable fans of compact crossovers. So TMP is covering that base as well with the launch of the Toyota Corolla Cross which, price-wise, slots between just above its entry-level SUV Rush (whose most expensive variant costs P185,000 less than the cheapest Cross).

Surely, you must have noticed how the hallowed Corolla name is now being used for the first time on an SUV. Ahead of the launch, TMP dropped a hint thus with the following text: “The Corolla we all know and love, now also in a new exhilarating form factor.”

The platform (the TGA-C) it’s built on is the same one used by, among others, the Toyota C-HR and the Lexus UX. Positioned as a “stylish urban vehicle,” the Corolla Cross is said to meld Toyota’s signature “QDR” (quality, durability, and reliability) with style and functionality.

Significantly, Toyota further embraces its hybrid cred — doubling down via a hybrid trim in pursuit of realizing its “vision of sustainable mobility and makes self-charging hybrid technology more accessible to Filipinos,” according to a release.

“Guided by our philosophy of making ever-better cars, Toyota took the best of a trusted model, the Toyota Corolla, and turned it into a sleek and modern crossover,” said TMP President Atsuhiro Okamoto during the online launch. “The Corolla Cross is designed to move you in comfort and style, whether you’re seeking adventure, doing business, or simply spending time with people you love.”

On the outside, the vehicle’s imposing double trapezoid front grille (which calls to mind the RAV4’s) lends some width and presence. The hybrid variant gets so-called LED Light Curtain Daytime Running Lights and “a subtle blue accent to the bi-beam LED headlamps” to complement the blue Toyota logo, which denotes electrification.

TMP described the Corolla Cross cabin, which comes covered in leather for the hybrid, as “classy” and “minimalist.” It continued, “The wide and spacious cabin space gives abundant head clearance for easier ingress and the slim seatback gives ample legroom for backseat passengers. The thinner pillars and rear quarter window add to the roomier atmosphere of the Corolla Cross and provides more outward visibility.”

It boasts a smart entry and push start-stop system, power adjust with auto fold for the side mirrors, power windows and speed-sensing door locks, and for the 1.8 V hybrid variant, rain-sensing windshield wipers and eight-way power-adjust driver’s seat. The driver may access Toyota Safety Sense (TSS) features and seven-inch multi-information display (or the 1.8 V hybrid), and audio, and phone connectivity features for all variants via steering-wheel switches. Good news for habitual “pairers”: Apple Carplay and Android Auto are compatible with the 1.8 V Hybrid’s display audio.

Under the hood of the hybrid is a 1.8-liter engine with Atkinson Cycle (delivering 142Nm at 3,600rpm, and an electric motor to bump up the total system output to 120hp). Three driving modes (Eco, Power, and EV) give drivers their druthers on response and fuel efficiency. The 1.8 G CVT gets a 16-valve four-cylinder, DOHC chain drive with dual VVT-I serving up 138hp and 172Nm (at 4,000rpm).

The Corolla Cross receives the following safety equipment across all variants: Seven SRS air bags, anti-lock brakes with brake assist and electronic brake force distribution, vehicle stability control with traction control, hill start assist, and three-point emergency locking retractor seat belts for all occupants. The hybrid has two front and four rear clearance sonars, while the G CVT variant has two rear sonars. A reverse camera is available for all variants. The 1.8 Hybrid variant additionally receives TSS features such as the pre-collision system, adaptive cruise control, lane departure alert, lane tracing assist, and automatic high beam — along with a blind spot monitor and rear cross traffic alert.

The Corolla Cross comes in two variants and four colors, available at all 70 dealerships across the country.

TMP will also be making the Corolla Cross Hybrid variant available through the Balloon Payment Plus financing plan. Said TMP First Vice-President Sherwin Chualim: “We understand customer apprehension on hybrid technology: affordability, maintenance and resale value — that’s why we are offering the Corolla Cross hybrid with Balloon Payment Plus — lower monthly payments, inclusive of periodic maintenance, with guaranteed future resale value.”

For more information, visit www.toyota.com.ph and follow the official social media pages at ToyotaMotorPhilippines (Facebook and Instagram), @ToyotaMotorPH (Twitter), and Toyota PH (Viber and Telegram). More information about hybrid electric vehicle technology can be found at www.toyota.com.ph/hybrid.

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