Toyota Yaris Cross: Democratizing electrified

When it debuted in August, the good-looking Toyota Yaris Cross didn’t just fill in the crossover gap between the larger Corolla Cross and the smaller Raize. While that in itself is a valid raison d’être, the Yaris Cross has bigger shoes to fill.

The model is now the flagbearer of Toyota Motor Philippines Corporation’s push toward carbon neutral mobility – largely because the hybrid variant of the Yaris Cross, priced at P1.598 million, is now the most affordable electrified vehicle you can get from the country’s leading auto brand, which corners almost half of vehicle sales.

Sourced from Toyota’s production lines in Indonesia, the five-seater Yaris Cross is a right-sized model that appears like a cross (pun intended) between the RAV4 and aforementioned Corolla Cross. It measures 4,310mm long, 1,770mm wide, and 1,615mm tall. Notably, it boasts a respectable ground clearance of 260mm.

It is both familiar and new, with a solid build that deserves its importance to Toyota. The front fascia features a sharp-looking pair of slanted LED headlamps (with daytime running lamps) flanking a trapezoidal grille – adding a sense of dynamism. The sculpted bumper has a different-colored diffuser underneath.

Pop open the hood to see a 1.5-liter, inline, four-cylinder, 16-valve, dual VVT-i engine paired with a CVT transmission. The ICE is supplemented by an electric motor delivering up to 80ps. The system, says Toyota, is good for a maximum of 111ps.

Inside are very contemporary accoutrements such as a seven-inch TFT multi-information display, wireless charging dock, and panoramic view monitor. Class-defying amenities are also available like wireless Apple CarPlay and Android Auto with Bluetooth and voice command. The highest variant also boasts a six-speaker Pioneer system. The second row is surprisingly roomy, and provides a pair of A/C vents for those seated here. Blue touches in the cabin further convey the environment-friendly aspirations.

Speaking of which, the Yaris Cross is the first Toyota here to don the brand’s hybrid electric vehicle (HEV) blue carbon neutrality logo first unveiled in Thailand last year. It’s another medal of honor for this vehicle with high expectations.

Further making the Yaris Cross a value-for-money option is the suite of safety features included in the Toyota Safety Sense, coming standard on both the S HEV and V CVT. There’s a Pre-Collision System (PCS), Automatic High Beam (AHB), Lane Departure Alert (LDA), Lane Tracing Assist (LTA) and Adaptive Cruise Control (ACC). The G CVT trim has active safety features such as Electronic Brake Distribution (EBS), Anti-Lock Brake System (ABS), Vehicle Stability Control (VSC) and Hill-Start Assist Control (HAC).

The HEV variant we briefly tested before launch also gets a panoramic moonroof – a feature that is increasingly being seen in newer releases of many brands.

Behind the wheel, the Yaris Cross is a rewarding experience that is surprisingly brisk and polished. Step on the throttle and you’ll get reasonable response, particularly when the lithium battery is charged up to reward you with instantaneous reaction. While its pure-electric performance is finite, there’s enough of it to positively impact fuel economy and, yes, your carbon footprint. The motor steps in at higher speeds to destress the ICE.

Of course, since this is a hybrid, you don’t have to worry about range and charging. The vehicle will charge the lithium-ion battery whenever possible – such as when you brake or as the vehicle decelerates.

If you want to save a bit, you can opt for the 1.5 V CVT variant (priced at P1.296 million), or the  1.5 G CVT (P1.199 million). But you’ll probably ask yourself why when you do the math – both in terms of fuel saved and, more importantly, the your lessened carbon guilt.

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