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Toyota Corolla Cross Hybrid Singapore Review - 2.0 (A)

The Toyota Corolla Cross Hybrid is a compact sized SUV that builds on the success and reputation of the Toyota Corolla, and now comes equipped with a 2 litre engine paired to a hybrid system along with a CVT gearbox, allowing for class leading levels of fuel efficiency and economy. Although fuel consumption figures are listed at 18.8 km/l, real world figures are actually higher than 20 km/l. The Corolla Cross Hybrid is also quick on its feet, with a rumoured 0-100km/h time of just 7.7 seconds. The Corolla Cross comes with drive mode select where users can toggle between ECO, Normal, and Power modes, while there is also an EV drive mode switch which allows you to drive on electric power only if you have adequate charge. As a family friendly SUV, the Corolla Cross Hybrid also comes with practical features like split folding rear seats, universal ISOFIX compatible hard points for child seats, as well as tilt and telescopic steering wheel adjustment.

With Singapore's obsessions with SUVs and fuel economy, the Toyota Corolla Cross Hybrid was always going to be an eventuality, and one that is a long time coming. In a way, it's the perfect product for Toyota, combining the legendary Corolla name with a format that is younger and more sought after. Bluntly put, Toyota are going to sell plenty of these no matter how the car turns out - but its encouraging to know that after all the time taken to launch the Corolla Cross Hybrid, it isn't just a very clever marketing move, and is instead a very well packaged product that boasts real world credentials, especially in the field of fuel economy. For the first time as well, we feel like we're able to talk about a Corolla with some real unique selling points, rather than the same old pitch about reliability and the car being a safe choice.

At first glance, the car strikes you as a handsome thing. It's stature is adequately imposing, and the car looks smart. A well designed front end and the inclusion of 18 inch aluminium machined wheels do an amazing job at making the car feel more upmarket and premium. The design is dialled back a little from the bolder and boxier RAV4, which will sit nicely with the more conservative Corolla buyers who are looking to take that small step to the left and upgrade to something with a younger and more youthful energy. There isn't a bad angle on the car, and while it isn't a car that will stand out in a carpark, it is as easy for your teenage daughter to like and accept the car as it is for ah ma or ah gong.

Clad in a matt finish upholstery, much of the interior presents a more youthful persona than Toyotas from previous generations, and we're starting to see a subtle but definitive improvements in the styling of Toyota cabins, with each new car seemingly better than the last. Despite this, Toyota still retains much of the pragmatism that is so ingrained in their DNA, and most of the cabin is logically laid out with purpose - something that more traditional consumers will appreciate.

To match an otherwise pleasant interior, one possible area of inprovement in the Toyota Cross Hybrid would be the inclusion of a more upmarket infotainment head unit, which in my opinion, is an extremely prominent focal point of the interior, and can really elevate or ruin a cabin. In that sense, it's a low cost high impact way of quickly and effectively elevating the cabin's look and feel. The one currently fitted to the Corolla Cross Hybrid works well and is easy to use, but perhaps lacks a little bit of aesthetic refinement with both its hardware and software and might be a point of contention among consumers who are more particular about aesthetics.

Based off a regular Corolla, the Corolla Cross is not a huge car, and rear legroom isn't fantastic - so it would be unwise to expect the car to do the job of a full sized SUV like a Harrier or a RAV4. However, the Corolla Cross offers enough space and practicality for most local demands like ferrying young children, grocery shopping, or a family outing. In fact, it's a good size that balances practicality, the demands of navigating a car through urban environments and tight carparks, as well as fuel economy - which brings us to the Corolla Cross Hybrid's main party trick.

Although the listed efficiency of the car is 18.8 km/l, this is one of the rare times that we test a car and achieve an even higher efficiency figure than what is listed. In an exclusive partnership with Borneo Motors, SGFM took the Corolla Cross Hybrid on an endurance drive around Singapore across about 18 hours. During the drive, we navigated the car through traffic jams, slower peak hour traffic, rain, and the generally tedious Singapore traffic situation and achieved 1051km on a full 43L tank, effectively achieving a fuel efficiency of approximately 24.5 km/l - an amazingly impressive figure considering the conditions of the endurance drive. In fact, at one point, we even clocked a maximum efficiency figure of 28.5 km/l, which is nothing short of amazing.

Despite these outrageous fuel efficiency figures, the Corolla Cross Hybrid is no slouch either, and boasts a 0-100km/h time of 7.7 seconds, albeit with much droning from the eCVT transmission. Generally, the car moves quite effortlessly, and feels light on its feet in city driving conditions, as well as on the expressway. Interestingly, the car also handled admirably, offering a firm but comfortable ride quality with minimal lean through fast corners. The car also demonstrated good control over body roll along windier sections of road and felt quite pleasant to pilot.

While not the most cutting edge of SUVs to hit the market, the Corolla Cross Hybrid is an extremely well calibrated car for Singapore use, and will definitely appeal to consumers who feel that the Corolla name still holds some weight, yet want to enjoy something that feels more youthful and adventurous. The Corolla Cross Hybrid's impeccable fuel efficiency figures and better than average handling also mean that the car is a very well packaged product that consumers will find easy to like and easy to align themselves with.


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