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Toyota Corolla Cross Hybrid Review: It’s Outdone its Own Legacy

If you are looking for a Corolla, the Cross SUV is the one to get.
Ronald Chua
Ronald Chua
09 Jun 2023
It is also mightily impressive when the car is able to consistently outperform its official fuel consumption figures...

What we like:
Toyota’s design integrity & sensibility
Fuel efficiency
Refined hybrid drivetrain
Ride comfort
What we dislike:
Locally fitted infotainment system

Mention Toyota Corolla to anyone on the street and what comes to mind would likely be adjectives such as Japanese, reliable, efficient, and perhaps in our local Singaporean lingo, Uncle.

Let’s just put it out there that the Corolla Cross SUV tested here is definitely not (or a lot less) Uncle.

It looks masculine with a long bonnet and a vertical trapezoid grille. The Corolla Cross is also equipped with intricate LED headlamps that look like they came right off a more premium Lexus model. The car actually resembles a mini-RAV4!

With our SUV-loving community, the Corolla Cross’ design would be welcomed by many. The front and rear flared fenders impart an imposing stance and black plastic panelling is well integrated into the car’s design. The 18-inch rims, shod in Michelin Primacy 4s, are simple and elegant but fill the raised wheel arches well.

Round the rear, the design is clean and it is the only place where the Corolla badge can be found. I feel that the Corolla Cross does not possess the usual Japanese origami-line aesthetics, but instead, imparts a stronger European design trait.

Open the door and it immediately resembles a Corolla sedan. The dashboard, steering and console are exactly the same. There are no fancy gizmos like large iPad-like screens but you get simple and intuitive buttons that are solidly built and easy to use. The aircon and steering controls are laid out clearly (thank goodness, no silly touch screens nor touchpads here) and you could actually drive this car without any form of familiarisation needed.

Hop in, put the gearshift in D and off you go.

Visibility and the sense of airiness adds to the spaciousness of the car. With a wheelbase of 2,640mm, rear passengers have sufficient legroom but it would be perfect with just a bit more space. But hey, this is still more than sufficient for a Singaporean family. The rear seatbacks are also able to be reclined slightly if preferred.

Surprisingly, the Corolla Cross even comes with high-pile carpets, similar to the more expensive Lexus models.

As usual, practicality is of top priority for Japanese cars and the boot space of the Corolla Cross is more than sufficient at 425 litres and can be increased with 60:40 folding rear seats.

Now, for the key selling point of the Corolla Cross – its Hybrid drivetrain. While most manufacturers have been focusing on EVs, the Japanese manufacturers, Toyota included, have been constantly improving their hybrid technology and the results proves itself. Hybrids are an excellent frontier between a traditional internal combustion engine and an EV as it provides the convenience of driving without the worries of access to a charging network but with a reduced carbon footprint.

In fact, the hybrid drivetrain in the Corolla Cross is one of the smoothest that I have driven. The transition when the engine kicks in and shuts off in tandem with the battery pack is nearly imperceptible to the driver. Only under hard acceleration will the engine make itself heard, rather audibly, due to the nature of the CVT transmission.

Again, one must appreciate the fact that this is a hybrid car that was designed and engineered with the environment in mind. Mind you, the Corolla Cross is no slouch. The combined output of the engine and battery pack is 196 hp and the car will reach 100 km/h in 7.7s. The CVT transmission tends to create an illusion of being slow due to its shift-free nature but look at the speedometer and you will be caught doing illegal speeds very quickly.

It is also mightily impressive when the car is able to consistently outperform its official fuel consumption figures. On paper, the Corolla Cross has a fuel efficiency of 18.8 km/l but I managed to achieve a fuel efficiency of 26.3 km/l and 25.4 km/l on the 2 morning drives in 100% city driving into CBD which reflects almost 40% above its reported figures. This mirrors what was achieved in the Toyota Sienta Hybrid and it is a testament to Toyota’s hybrid technology.

At close to S$190,000 with COE, the Corolla Cross Hybrid is no small change but that is how the local car market is positioned currently. But once you put things into perspective, the Corolla Cross makes much more monetary sense than a Corolla sedan with the power and efficiency from the hybrid powertrain. If I were in the market for a new car for my family, I would put my money on the Corolla Cross as I would want the reliability and efficiency of a Toyota, and most importantly, the design integrity and performance of this excellent car. However, I would want to have the original Toyota infotainment system instead of the locally fitted infotainment system that stands out like a sore thumb in an otherwise excellent car.


Toyota has taken its hybrid drivetrain technology to a new level.

Photos by New Gen Marketing


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