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The Toyota Corolla Cross Hybrid is OneShift's Car Of The Year 2023

The Toyota Corolla Cross Hybrid scores highly in all of our judges’ books.
OneShift Editorial Team
OneShift Editorial Team
27 Nov 2023
... the new generation 2.0-litre hybrid engine does exceptionally well to merge astonishing frugality with pleasing smoothness.

To qualify as OneShift’s overall Car of the Year winner, a car has to score well in all ten of our judging criteria. No mean feat.

The Corolla Cross Hybrid may not, at first glance, be the sort of car to be placed on a pedestal. We see it plying our roads regularly as a workhorse for families, doing its job as a humble and unassuming vehicle. But in all of our time spent with the car, we got in beneath the skin of the Corolla Cross Hybrid to appreciate the depth of thought and engineering of its makers.

The key appeal of the Corolla Cross Hybrid is in its drivetrain. It is the first model to use Toyota’s fifth generation self-charging hybrid system that has a quieter power control unit (PCU) that reduces the level of electrical losses in the system by 6% in the 2.0. Its new lithium-ion hybrid battery is smaller and lighter but has a higher output - weight is down by 14% and output up by 14% compared to its predecessor. Toyota has optimised the battery’s cooling system to secure quieter performance and longer battery life. Where refinement was once traded away for efficiency, the new generation 2.0-litre hybrid engine does exceptionally well to merge astonishing frugality with pleasing smoothness.

Ronald said: “The smoothness of the Corolla Cross’ drivetrain is unparalleled. The transition between the engine kicking in and shutting off in tandem with the battery pack is nearly imperceptible. You would have to observe the tachometer clearly to actually see if the engine is on or off! With its CVT transmission, the Corolla Cross is both a smooth cruiser on the highways and also offers a comfortable ride in the city.”

And not only that, it seems to have achieved the impossible to include one more positive trait - perky responsiveness that’s more akin to a larger turbocharged engine. Maximum power is up 8% to 197 hp, cutting the 0-100 km/h to just 7.6 seconds - numbers that used to be warm hatch territory. It makes the Corolla Cross Hybrid effortless to overtake other cars on the road, while giving great fuel economy while zipping around town. It’s quite an enticing combination.

James added: “I daresay, the Corolla Cross offers a rather sporty pace, which is not something I’d expect to say of the car! You’ll rarely be left wanting at the traffic lights or when overtaking at speed. Brilliant stuff for what is an everyday practical SUV.”

It delivers this power so smoothly as well. Its throttle has been tuned for stop-start traffic and frequent changes in speed limits, while also adapting to highway as well as up and downhill driving, synchronising the engine speed with the driver’s inputs to give a more natural feel. Its electric power steering has been calibrated with a focus on initial reaction to a driver’s input to give a light, crisp feel. The result is a car that’s relaxing and intuitive to drive.

The Corolla Cross’ TNGA-C platform offers sophistication that delights at its price point. It has front MacPherson struts and rear trailing wishbones, giving a serene ride for all passengers over all manner of surfaces. Its brakes have been calibrated to give a more natural feel, so much so that despite having regenerative properties, they feel exactly like in any other pure ICE car. All this makes driving and sitting in the Corolla Cross a far more premium experience than its price would suggest.

And as proof that the Corolla Cross has been carefully engineered for its target audience, its rear doors have a curved profile so there is more knee room to reach in to attend to a youngster. Adult rear seat passengers will also appreciate the recline adjustment for the seatbacks. A 720 mm load height is one of the lowest among the Corolla Cross’ main competitors, and it is accessed with a power back door with a kick sensor. Load capacity is 433 litres, extending to a maximum 1,337 litres with the rear seats folded.

Like Joel shared, “With a near-to flat loading area and an almost-level floor with the seats folded down, the Corolla Cross is an extremely practical car for any family. As a keen cyclist, there could not be a more perfect and versatile vehicle that allows me to easily transport my bicycle around and ferry friends and family comfortably once the ride for the day has been completed.”

On the inside, there is just enough digitisation to keep the Corolla Cross abreast with its competitors. There is a 12.3-inch fully digital instrument panel that’s fully customisable, as well as the usual suite of connectivity options with Android Auto and Apple Carplay.

Corolla remains the world’s best-selling automotive nameplate, with more than 50 million global sales across 55 years and 12 generations. The Corolla Cross does justice to this honour and looks set to continue the tradition. And it is our deserving overall OneShift Car of the Year of 2023.


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