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European-spec Toyota Corolla Cross Hybrid gives us a glimpse of the future U.S. version

The European-spec Toyota Corolla Cross Hybrid has been unveiled and it gives us a hint at what the North American version could be. Like the standard internal combustion version already on sale in the U.S., the electrified variant is on the TNGA-C platform shared with the Prius, Corolla sedan and hatchback, C-HR, and Lexus UX. In terms of size, the Corolla Cross slots between the C-HR and RAV4.

Perhaps the most important bit of news on the European-spec Toyota Corolla Cross Hybrid is the fifth-generation hybrid powertrain. Available in FWD and AWD configurations, the system couples a 2.0-liter four-cylinder with an electric motor, a lithium-ion battery, and a planetary gear set for a combined output of 197hp. Toyota says the battery pack is more powerful yet 40 percent lighter than before. It has also increased the output of the engine and electric motor, resulting in an 8-percent increase in combined horsepower. AWD variants add a second electric drive on the rear axle with 41 hp. During low-grip situations, it engages immediately to provide additional traction. Both versions can accelerate to 100 km/h (62 mph) in 8.1 seconds according to Toyota.

The fifth-generation hybrid system also improves drivability. Toyota notes the powertrain is more linear, predictable, and easier to control under acceleration. Vehicle speed now better matches engine revolutions to make the driving experience feel more natural and intuitive. This was achieved by recalibrating the powertrain’s response to the driver’s inputs on the accelerator pedal.

Inside, the Corolla Cross Hybrid gets a new dash layout with a 12.3-inch digital cluster and a 10.5-inch main touch screen. The processor for the latter is faster and now features wireless Apple CarPlay and wired Android Auto compatibility. It also has cloud-based navigation. Unfortunately, this user interface is specific to the European market and won’t find its way to the U.S.-spec Corolla Cross Hybrid.

On the safety front, the Corolla Cross Hybrid gets T-Mate. This combines all the functions of the latest Toyota Safety Sense suite with other active safety and driver assistance features. The automatic emergency braking system now gets low-speed and Intersection Cut-in Assist and improved oncoming traffic detection for its Intersection Turn Assist. Over-the-air updates will keep the suite current and add new features later on. Other components include improved versions of adaptive cruise control, lane centering, and road sign detection.

Looking closely at the European-spec Corolla Cross Hybrid, you’ll notice that the powertrain layout is familiar. That’s because it’s an improved version of what’s already used in the Lexus UX 250h, hence why it has an extra 16 hp. The AWD version also uses a rear electric motor with significantly more power than what the UX 250h employs, which only has 7 hp. Toyota also put lighter, more powerful lithium-ion battery pack instead of the older nickel-metal-hydride unit found in the UX 250h.

If this is anything to go by, the Toyota Corolla Cross Hybrid will likely get the same powertrain when it hits the U.S. market sometime next year. The updated 2.0-liter-based system could eventually find its way into more vehicles, likely the refreshed UX 250h and the next-generation C-HR, which could move toward a sportier direction.

Written by Stefan Ogbac
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