Home Editors' Picks The greening of the Corolla Cross

The greening of the Corolla Cross


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Toyota’s popular compact SUV is now exclusively available with a hybrid powertrain

THE HYBRID electric vehicle (HEV) space is a segment where Toyota Motor Philippines Corp. (TMP) is the first mover in. Before it even appeared as a blip on the automotive radar, the Prius appeared here back in 2009.

It was a very different scene back then, of course. Filipinos were largely not quite ready for the concept of a battery-powered motor appearing alongside an internal combustion engine (ICE). And despite Toyota’s earnest information campaign to clarify what a hybrid actually is, the idea simply didn’t catch on. Maybe it just wasn’t time then. Also, to be completely honest, the funky look of the Prius then didn’t do itself a favor either.

Today, we’re far removed from those tentative first steps, and the notion of electrification is now neither novel nor far-fetched. In fact, when TMP formally unveiled the face-lifted Toyota Corolla Cross recently, it did so with such a resolve and decisiveness that would not have been possible all those years ago.

Let me explain: Although not yet an all-new iteration, the Corolla Cross is now effectively bereft of a purely ICE-powered version. Yup, TMP is now exclusively offering hybrid versions of its crossover — going all in for the nameplate it debuted here in 2020.

In a release, TMP President Masando Hashimoto said, “The Corolla Cross, the first strong hybrid crossover in the Philippines, has been a key to accelerating electrification in the Philippines. TMP pioneered the hybrid in 2009, but (it was after) the Corolla Cross launch in 2020 when we started achieving three-digit annual sales figures of xEVs (electrified vehicles).”

Last year, consolidated xEV figures for Lexus and Toyota reached 7,203 units. By the end of February this year, TMP reported a sales total of more than “4,000 electrified Corolla Cross (units) on the road, part of the more than 13,000-strong customers who chose electrified Toyota and Lexus models since we started the electrified movement.”

I spoke exclusively to Mr. Hashimoto on the sidelines of the Corolla Cross launch, and he expressed bullishness about the prospects in the space. Check out our Q&A on this page.

Three trims of the Corolla Cross will remain: the entry-level G, the V, and the GR-S (Gazoo Racing Sport). But again, all of these will now boast hybrid electric powertrains. The G starts off at P1.498 million, which makes the hybrid crossover a lot more attainable — something that should serve the country’s perennial auto sales leader in good stead amid the influx of challenger brands, particularly those from China.

Aside from the hybrid powertrain universality, the Corolla Cross has other new things up its sleeve. The V and G variants boast a mesh-like grille with hexagonal outlines, even as the GR-S retains its familiar face. The V and GR-S variants now receive LED headlamps with automatic high beam and sequential turn lamps; the G’s headlights have been upgraded from halogens to LEDs.

A panoramic view monitor camera and panoramic moonroof are affixed on the GR-S, and buyers will also benefit (as with those opting for a V) from a powered liftgate with kick sensor. All variants now have LED interior lamps and a leather-wrapped steering wheel. The foot brake (which not a few commented as conveying a less-than-premium feel) has been supplanted with a more appropriate electronic parking brake.

In front of the driver, a 12.3-inch fully digital multi-information display is on the GR-S, a seven-inch thin-film-transistor display is on the V, and the G gets a 4.2-inch TFT. Meanwhile, all three grades have a 10-inch display audio with wireless Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, plus a wireless charger for smartphones.

Toyota Safety Sense (TSS) driver assistance features are available on the GR-S and V trims for enhanced protection. These include a pre-collision system, automatic high beam, lane tracing assist, lane departure alert, and dynamic radar cruise control. Active safety features are available on all grades: emergency brake signal, anti-lock braking system, electronic brake distribution, and vehicle stability control.

Under the hood is the same mill for all three: Toyota’s 1.8-liter 2ZR-FXE hybrid powertrain with VVT-i. Total system power is rated at 122ps, while torque is at 142Nm. Drivers access the performance via a CVT. “This hybrid engine combines the power of a conventional engine with the fuel efficiency of an electric motor for an eco-friendlier drive, giving customers the power to start their journey toward a carbon-neutral future,” stressed TMP.

The V is priced at P1.763 million, while the GR-S is tagged at P1.917 million.

“The Corolla is the best-selling Toyota nameplate in the world. Since the introduction of the brand in 1966, roughly 50 million units have been sold in 150 countries — and that includes the Philippines. The Corolla’s story continues today, and with its role in carbon neutrality, we are working on having the Corolla enjoyed by generations to come,” concluded Mr. Hashimoto.

Suffice it to say that the Corolla’s hybrid chapter has indeed opened.