2022 Toyota Corolla Cross Hybrid

Locally-assembled Toyota Corolla Cross Hybrid & Corolla Cross 1.8 launched

Hybrids Local News News SUV/crossover Toyota

Although UMW Toyota Motor (UMWT) has been promoting hybrids a lot in the past few months, Toyota hybrids are not new to the Malaysian market. While the first model, the Prius which was the world’s first mass-produced hybrid car, was not marketed here, it did make a brief appearance in 2000 to introduce the hybrid electric technology to government officials. However, it would only be 10 years later that the government’s exemption of all duties for hybrid electric vehicles (HEVs) and battery electric vehicles (BEVs) would see UMWT selling many HEVS. It imported the Prius, by then in its third generation as well as the smaller Prius c and also the Lexus Ct200h. Without the high duties imposed, the models were attractively priced and sold well.

However, when the duty-exemption was withdrawn a few years later, prices shot up again and sales fell to zero. Although the government had hoped that the car companies would follow up after the duty-free period to assemble HEVs locally, only one company chose to do so while the others did not bother. The government instead focussed on encouraging the local assembly of ‘energy efficient vehicles’ (EEVs) for which incentives would be given to offset production costs and lower retail prices.

2022 Toyota Corolla Cross Hybrid

Last year, UMWT decided that it would move forward with a view towards electrification of its range, in line with the aim of Toyota Motor Corporation to achieve carbon neutrality by 2050. However, the company’s strategy does not entirely focus on electrification of its products to the extent that future models will no longer be powered by combustion engines in the near-term. Instead, it has a multi-pronged approach which will be determined by various factors in each country and region.

The more advanced countries have an extensive network of charging stations to support BEVs but in Malaysia, this is still something that is under development. To date, there are only around 500 charging stations in the whole country, mostly in urban areas and mainly in the Klang Valley. In Toyota’s view, that’s not a suitable situation to be introducing BEVs at this time, so it has chosen to start its electrification journey in Malaysia with HEVs. This is more practical as hybrid powertrains are not reliant on a charging infrastructure since they can recharge their battery packs on the move, and the technology cost of HEVs is lower than BEVs so they are within reach of a greater number of customers.

This led to the decision to invest RM270 million in the assembly plant and related expenditures to assemble HEVs locally. It’s the first time that a Toyota HEV is being assembled locally and though this may seem like it was prompted by the government’s efforts to promote greater electrification of motor vehicles as announced in the Budget last October, UMWT made their announcement last July, many months before the government’s announcement. In any case, the incentives are only for BEVs and HEVs will continue to receive the EEV incentives which will still help offset production costs.

Tonight, the launch of the Toyota Corolla Cross Hybrid represents the culmination of the project to assemble HEVs locally and it would be the first of a range of HEVs to come. As can be seen from the price, it is attractive enough, unlike BEVs which, even with full tax exemption, are starting from RM150,000. Since the Corolla Cross Hybrid is being assembled, UMWT has also decided to include the Corolla Cross with a 1.8-litre petrol engine as well and this is available in two variants.

As mentioned earlier, HEVs are not reliant on external charging so a customer can buy and use one just like any other car with a combustion engine. Hybrid electric technology, which has matured after 25 years, is a ‘transparent’ technology in that the driver doesn’t really see the difference (although the feel might be different). It’s just like the introduction of multivalve engines and EFI in the 1980s and turbochargers becoming common in the 2000s.

For those who may not be entirely familiar with hybrid electric technology, here’s a quick explanation. As the term suggests, the powertrain is a combination of two power sources – a petrol engine and an electric motor (actually the Toyota system has two motors). In some systems, they may work independently but Toyota’s system, now in its fourth generation, is designed to work in a collaborative manner. Running conditions and the amount of energy in the battery pack determine how the collaboration works but basically, the car will move off with only electric power and as the speed increases, the engine will provide the additional power needed to go faster.

2022 Toyota Corolla Cross Hybrid

While cruising, the system will be varying the use from each power source so at times, the electric motor may be doing all the work, which means no fuel is used and that helps in fuel-saving. It can be quite significant as we discovered on a drive from the Klang Valley to Penang where the average consumption was 6.4 litres/100 kms or 15.6 kms/litre. Other members of the media were able to get even better figures.

The motor relies on electricity supplied by the lithium-ion battery pack so what happens when there is no more? That should not happen as the amount of energy will be constantly replenished while the car is moving. This is done by regenerative braking (where energy lost during braking is converted into energy for electricity) or the generator (the second motor) charges the battery pack. In the event that there is heavy usage of electricity, then the engine will be used more as the recharging takes place.

This self-charging capability takes away the ‘range anxiety’ that users of BEVs may have. This relates to the concern about running out of electricity on a long journey. With a HEV like the Corolla Cross Hybrid, you can still move using the engine and can refuel at one of 3,700 stations all over the country. But with a BEV, you might be stranded by the side of the highway or along some remote country road. It will be a long, long time before BEV technology is so advanced that you can recharge with a portable powerbank like you do now for your mobilephone.

Battery technology has been constantly advancing since the first Prius. In the early days, the battery pack was big and heavy and did not hold a lot of electricity. Since then, the battery packs have become smaller and yet more energy-dense while using more efficient processes like lithium-ion interaction. Their cost has also come down while reliability and durability have improved. For owners’ peace of mind, UMWT offers an 8-year warranty on the battery pack and this warranty, unlike others, includes some hybrid-related systems as well. There’s also an option to extend the warranty to 10 years, but the general vehicle warranty is 5 years with unlimited mileage.

2022 Toyota Corolla Cross Hybrid

The powertrain for the Corolla Cross Hybrid has a 1.8-litre 4-cylinder petrol engine which is the same as the one in the Corolla Cross 1.8V and 1.8G. It produces 98 ps/142 Nm while the primary electric motor contributes 53 kW (equal to 72 ps) and 163 Nm of torque. Power delivery is via an E-CVT specially engineered for use in HEVs.

There are 4 modes – NORMAL | SPORT | ECO | EV – which the driver can select at the touch of a button while on the move to suit driving preferences or to maximize fuel-saving. The EV mode is a unique mode which gives an experience similar to driving a fully electric vehicle. In this mode, only the electric motor is used so there are zero emissions and the vehicle moves around noiselessly. The distance can be several hundred metres (depending on battery condition and driving speed) and would be ideal when moving around a carpark looking for a space.

2022 Toyota Corolla Cross Hybrid

The air-conditioning system in the Corolla Cross Hybrid is also unique, specially designed for HEVs. Unlike conventional air-conditioning systems which use an engine-driven compressor to pump the refrigerant around, the system is electrically powered. It can therefore run even when the engine is off, drawing its power from the battery pack. Should the battery pack capacity be low, the engine will restart to recharge it as it continues to power the air-conditioner’s electric compressor.

[Click here for a video of our first driving impressions of the Corolla Cross Hybrid]

Appearance-wise, the Corolla Cross Hybrid is not exactly new on Malaysian roads as the non-hybrid model was introduced last April, imported from Thailand. However, due to the long period of shutdown in the middle of the year and some supply issues caused by the microchip shortage, the number on the roads is limited. Now, as a locally-assembled model, you should start to see more of them.

2022 Toyota Corolla Cross Hybrid

Where is the past, a variant bodystyle of the Corolla would still have some common elements with the sedan (usually the front end), the Corolla Cross Hybrid looks like a different model altogether. Toyota could have raised a Corolla Hatchback and ‘ruggedized’ its looks (as some manufacturers do to create a ‘SUV’) but they instead came out with a new SUV design and placed the model in the family of the all-time bestselling car in the world. To differentiate a Corolla Cross Hybrid and a non-hybrid, there are blue accents on the grille badge, logo on the engine, headlights and the rear badge.

2022 Toyota Corolla Cross Hybrid

Besides being the first Toyota HEV assembled locally, the Corolla Cross is also the first model with Toyota New Global Architecture (TNGA) to be assembled in Malaysia. TNGA has been used for all recent new models and has been engineered for variability, allowing engineers a lot of freedom to adapt it to different types of models. It is used for sedans and hatchbacks as well as SUVs and while there is differentiation in designs, there are also many common elements and parts and that is one of the secrets of reducing production costs.

2022 Toyota Corolla Cross Hybrid

The passenger car-like interior of today’s SUVs was pioneered by the Toyota RAV4 some 25 years ago. This is continued in the Corolla Cross Hybrid andthere is claimed to be significantly better headroom than other competitor SUV models in the same class. The wide body dimensions also allow the centre console to be wider for more storage space.

The blue accents on the exterior that identify the Corolla Cross Hybrid are also evident in the instrument panel. There is a colour 7-inch Multi Information Display (MID) with two styles – detailed and simple. Due to the quietness of operation, a READY indicator is shown to let the driver know when the system is ready to run when the START/STOP button is pressed.

2022 Toyota Corolla Cross Hybrid

2022 Toyota Corolla Cross Hybrid

Various types of information are presented to the driver in the MID and one of the displays shows the flow of power and electricity between the engine, motor, battery pack and wheels. The flows are shown in real-time and show the driver when the battery is being recharged and the level of electricity in it.

2022 Toyota Corolla Cross Hybrid

To help the driver of the Corolla Cross Hybrid achieve the best fuel economy, an ECO display in the instrument panel provides guidance on accelerating optimally. At the end of each journey, the driver can refer to an ECO Score to see how eco-friendly the driving style has been. With such a feature, drivers may be inspired to achieve a good score daily and save more fuel!

A large 9-inch panel in the middle of the dashboard provides information for the infotainment systems, as well as the image from the rearview camera. The system is Apple CarPlay and Android Auto ready so compatible smartphone apps can easily be transferred and accessed from the dashboard. Other connectivity options include USB mirroring, AUX and Bluetooth.

2022 Toyota Corolla Cross Hybrid

To assist the driver during parking or manoeuvering the vehicle is a 3D Panoramic View Monitor (shown above) which also uses the display on the 9-inch panel. Utilising small cameras on all sides of the vehicle, a 3-dimension view of the surroundings on all sides is presented to the driver. This not only enables easier positioning of the vehicle but also allows the driver to spot hazards or little children that might not be visible from the driver’s seat.

The air-conditioning system operated by an electric compressor has automatic operation to keep the cabin at the desired temperature. Airflow and temperature can be set differently for the driver and front passenger and with the S-Flow function, the airflow will be concentrated only on seats with people sitting on them. Cool air is also carried to the rear occupants by additional vents between the front seats.

2022 Toyota Corolla Cross Hybrid

Although a HEV has generally lower noise levels than a car with a combustion engine, additional efforts went into making the cabin quieter by adding an insulator sheet under the bonnet to isolate noise from the engine bay. The windscreen glass is also an acoustic type, reducing transmission of wind and other external noises.

Besides the convenience of a Smart Entry & Push Start System to lock/unlock the doors and start/stop the engine, the Corolla Cross also comes with a Power Back Door that opens and closes automatically by just positioning a foot under the rear bumper which has a proximity sensor. This allows for handsfree operation which will be convenient when both hands are holding bags or other items. For safety, the automatic opening will not work if the engine is running.

2022 Toyota Corolla Cross Hybrid

2022 Toyota Corolla Cross Hybrid
Instead of being installed in the boot area as in past models, the battery pack is under the rear seat, so no boot space is lost.

Besides the high-strength TNGA platform, the structure of the Corolla Cross is engineered to withstand impact forces from all sides during an accident, reducing or preventing injuries to the occupants. In crash testing and technical evaluation by ASEAN NCAP, the Corolla Cross Hybrid and Corolla Cross, as with many other Toyota models, has received a maximum 5-star safety rating.

The Corolla Cross Hybrid and Corolla Cross 1.8V come with Toyota Safety Sense (TSS) 2.0, a suite of Active Safety technologies that help a driver avoid accidents or reduce the damaging effects should a collision occur. Besides having automatic emergency braking and automatic high beam adjustment among the 5 main systems, the adaptive cruise control is also available at all speeds, maintaining a safe gap from the vehicle ahead whatever the set speed is. It can even bring the vehicle to a complete stop if the preceding vehicle stops without the driver needing to depress the brake pedal. When the vehicle ahead starts to move, it will automatically resume moving as well.

2022 Toyota Corolla Cross Hybrid

[Click here to download the e-brochure of the Toyota Corolla Cross Hybrid]

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