Published on July 11th, 2022 | by Subhash Nair


2022 Toyota Corolla Cross Hybrid CKD Review

What’s all the fuss around the Toyota Corolla Cross Hybrid? We spend a week with the car to find out.

The Corolla Cross Hybrid is a car that infuriates car enthusiasts yet pleases the masses. It’s the most ‘Toyota’ Toyota has been in years. It is a master of none, but it ticks all the boxes. At first I looked down on the car and even tried persuading buyers to get the Corolla Altis instead.

After a week of spending time with the Corolla Cross Hybrid, I’m starting to see why it’s such a hype generating machine.

Some Background

In the mid 2010s Toyota needed a compact crossover. For the longest time, the company’s image had suffered. Decades of building cars that catered to the widest audience had had a downside. Their cars weren’t exceptional and they were hardly the first to the market with anything. Then came TNGA – the Toyota New Global Architecture. Here was the first step to correcting the company’s image. It was a modular chassis that promised the comfort of Mercedes-Benz with the dynamism of a BMW. It had safety built in and could scale to fit almost any segment.

The first TNGA cars arrived and impressed journalists around the world. The only issue was that the cars got a lot more sophisticated and thus more expensive to produce. Take it from us – the Corolla Altis of this generation has the comfort of something twice its size. Plus, it handles like something half its size. The Camry too was impressive even before the new Dynamic Force engine arrived. Then came the RAV4 and Harrier – two more exceptional products from Toyota that rode on the new bones.

These new Toyotas came and made no significant dent in sales figures. No one wanted to buy ‘unsporty’ sedans and CBU SUVs missed the mark on pricing by a mile. Even before the new Corolla Altis came to Malaysia, UMW Toyota had brought in the C-HR. The C-HR would have been their killer product. It had bold looks, the new TNGA platform, and would hit the bustling compact crossover segment.

Yet it was not a massive commercial success, at least not in Toyota terms. It was too niche a product and Toyota customers took note. It was too small. Its styling was too radical. And worst of all, it was not priced to compete.

Within a few years, the C-HR was not only pulled from the Malaysian market, but from the region. This was the global product enthusiasts had wanted but the masses didn’t take to it at all.

rear end of the Toyota Corolla Cross Hybrid in Klang

4 years go pass and Toyota release the Corolla Cross. Larger than the C-HR. Priced better than the C-HR. Yet also blander looking than the C-HR and stripped of many features.

In place of a electric parking brake – a foot pedal. Instead of a double wishbone rear suspension – a torsion beam. Instead of a turbocharged engine option – a hybrid. To any enthusiast, the Corolla Cross is a downgrade. But to the masses, the Corolla Cross is exactly what they’ve been waiting for.

Why? Because it’s one of the largest in its segment. Where rivals are smaller in the rear than expected, the Corolla Cross is large. Where rivals tout features that don’t add value, Toyota fits a 360-camera and dashcams. And where others push avantgarde styling cues, the Corolla Cross is inoffensively handsome.

Most important of all, the Corolla Cross is an affordable Toyota. Wearing that stylised ‘T’ badge on the hood is a symbol of dependability. Toyota’s new motto is “All About The Drive” but car buyers the world over see “Buy Without Worry”.

That, unfortunately is the truth about the Corolla Cross. It’s popular because the market wanted something simpler from Toyota. To enthusiasts, it doesn’t help the image of the company. But Toyota is the world’s largest car company and the Corolla Cross sells.

My Thoughts On The Corolla Cross Hybrid

I’ve been driving the Corolla Cross Hybrid all week and I have to say I’m starting to see its appeal. The foot pedal brake is actually kind of charming. The hybrid powertrain comes alive when you have 5 people on board. The conservative looks appeal to the majority of people I’ve met.

Best of all, it’s the kind of car that doesn’t draw attention to itself. It’s there to serve you, not to define you or to impress you. But I do still have some complaints.

The first is the fuel efficiency. It’s good, but the fuel tank is small, so you’ll still need a refuel every 450km or so. The second is the hybrid powertrain. It has a mind of its own and vibrates the vehicle when it serves as a generator for the battery.

I also don’t appreciate the headunit’s look, layout and interface. It’s functional, but some pop-up warnings block buttons. Plus, it always searches through every paired smartphone in its history when started. Of course, I also have to make a note about the way it compares against the Corolla Altis sedan. This is not as comfortable to drive and it lacks very important features. Read more about that here.

Besides that, it’s a likeable car. I see exactly why the waiting list is as long as it is. I also see why so many people choose not to cancel their order. This is the Toyota product they’ve been waiting for since time immemorial. I personally prefer 4-door sedans to SUVs, but I can see why a family with a pet and small children would want the boot space, ride height and flexibility.

Although we do complain about the pedal parking brake, the rest of the Corolla Cross Hybrid is up to mark. Black synthetic leather upholstery, headlining and hardware lend the interior an upmarket look. On tech, a 7″ multi info display and 9″ infotainment unit with wired Apple CarPlay and Android Auto are present. A Qi Wireless Charger is available as an option.

The Corolla Cross Hybrid hits all the right beats when it comes to safety. It has 7 airbags and full active safety with Toyota Safety Sense providing a list of features:

  • Pre-Collision System (PCS)
  • Lane Departure Alert (LDA)
  • Dynamic Radar Cruise Control (DRCC)
  • Lane Tracing Assist (LTA)
  • Automatic High Beam (AHB).

Also part of the safety kit:

  • Blind Spot Information System
  • Rear Cross Traffic Alert
  • Tyre Pressure Monitoring

One big question on any potential customers mind will be reliability. Hybrid systems are generally more complex than standard internal combustion engines. But this is a Toyota we’re talking about. They were one of the first to build hybrid powertrains and they’ll cover any repairs for 8 years. And if you want to extend that guarantee another 2 years, you can at a small cost.

The Corolla Cross Hybrid is not a revolutionary product but it’s the product people have been waiting for. And that is enough to justify the hype.

Toyota Corolla Cross Hybrid Specifications

Engine: Inline-4, 16-Valve, DOHC, Atkinson Cycle, Petrol Hybrid
Capacity: 1,798cc
Gearbox: CVT Automatic
Max power: 97hp @ 5200rpm + 71hp (electric)
Max torque: 142Nm @ 3600rpm + 163Nm (electric)
Price: RM139,991

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About the Author

Written work on @subhashtag on instagram. Autophiles Malaysia on Youtube.

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