COROLLA CROSSES INTO HYBRID SPACEFriday, December 31, 2021
VEHICLE electrification isn't fully upon us as yet. However, to those who want to dabble in photon power with peace of mind, there's the 2022 Toyota Corolla Cross Hybrid. The combination is that of the ever reliable nameplate, Corolla, with a part electric drivetrain.
The Corolla Cross isn't the typical Corolla. Gone are the pictures of a sub-compact sedan. Adding Cross to the end of the name turns it into a brand new sport utility vehicle (SUV). However, rather than just raise the sedan a few inches off the ground and call it a day, it's been made to be its own thing, and an attractive one at that. Using the design language of three main arcs, something littered in hidden spaces around the body, the Toyota looks like a proper small SUV. Under the bulging arches are 18-inch wheels. Up front, there's a grille that draws inspiration from the RAV4. In the centre of that grille is the Toyota badge with a tinge of blue, earmarking it as a hybrid.
The interior is a bit different philosophy. It's pretty much a copy and paste of the Corolla sedan's interior, making the inside feel very familiar. Not necessarily a bad thing, given how improved the current generation Corolla is. Of course, there are the concessions to being an SUV. Seating is comfortable and upright like SUV buyers love. The spacious cabin presents plenty of practical storage solutions and ergonomic controls. That SUV feel becomes even more apparent should the rear seats be dropped for large cargo capacity. Enhancing the spaciousness is the significant glasshouse for an airy cabin feel and great occupant sightlines.
The convenience features on the hybrid model makes living easy. There's smart entry, cruise control, and automatic wipers, to name a few. A smattering of leather on the steering wheel and shift lever bring up the cabin contact surfaces. In centre of it all is Toyota's infotainment system. It's large, clear and simple to operate with plenty of physical shortcut buttons. The screen also doubles as output for the reversing camera. Otherwise it's occupied with whatever connectivity option the occupants are using, USB, Bluetooth, or displaying the functions of the hybrid system.
Driving the Corolla Cross is easy. Toyota has mastered the art of mass market hybrid technology, having it work invisibly as one motors along. In the Corolla Cross, the provision of electric power raises it over many the petrol versions. The additional electric torque means the vehicle never feels like it's struggling for acceleration in urban settings and on the highway it coasts as quietly on battery power. It feels a lot faster than the numbers would say.
The suspension is on the soft side, but composed, doing a great job of soaking up bumps in the road, and not transferring them to the chassis, so there's also stability at higher speeds. In the corners, the body roll is there to telegraph the grip levels available giving the Toyota the ability to travel along with confidence.
To truly get the best out of the Corolla Cross Hybrid, drivers need to understand all the information they're being fed. There are three main modes, ECO for maximum fuel saving, PWR for full engagement of the two power plants, and EV mode for fuel free motivation. There's no tachometer. The gauge, instead, indicates hybrid operation based on throttle position. As the vehicle recharges itself, learning how to keep minimum petrol engine engagement is the key for maximum mpgs.
MODEL: 2022 Toyota Corolla Cross Hybrid
ENGINE: 1.8-litre, four-cylinder + electric motor — 121bhp/105lb/ft + 120lb/ft
DRIVETRAIN: CVT/front-wheel drive
SUMMARY: Fuel economy champ