A closer look at Toyota’s hybrids – Manila Bulletin

Toyota HEV Drive 2022

What’s a hybrid? Back in 2009 when the second-generation model was launched locally we didn’t know anything about this technology. Most people have only heard about hybrids from the tabloids when Leo DiCaprio drove to the Oscars in a Prius.

The little knowledge came with a few myths as well. Hybrids are expensive. That first locally available Prius came with a P2.25 million price tag.

Hybrids are complicated. The cockpit of the Prius was intimidating. It looked futuristic with its strange gauges, advanced meters, and a funky-looking gear shifter.

Hybrids are small. The original Prius was a compact sedan and around the same size as the current Mirage G4. It can seat five, but there’s isn’t much else it can carry, even with the liftback trunk.

Hybrids only come in one body style. There were limited options locally. The hybrids in our market only ever came in a compact hatchback or liftback body.

It has been 13 years since the Prius launched in the Philippines. There’s now faster access to the World Wide Web and it’s easier to get more information about hybrid technology. Today, none of these excuses not to get one are going to fly.

At the HEV (hybrid electric vehicle) drive event, TMP showcased a number of their hybrid models, including the Corolla, Corolla Cross, RAV4, and the Camry. They came in body styles like a compact sedan, subcompact crossover, compact SUV, and an executive sedan — various sizes and styles, all hybrid vehicles.

The 281-kilometer drive started in Quezon City with several stops to switch vehicles before our final destination for the day in Kamana Sanctuary in Subic, Olongapo. Each vehicle switch showcased a different set of dynamics and features of the hybrid vehicles.

The Corolla Hybrid (introduced in 2019) comes with a mass-market-friendly price of P1.58 million (now it’s at P1.595 million). Sure, it’s still more than a million pesos, but to put that in perspective, the Civic base model is already P1.290 million.

The cabin of the Corolla Hybrid is a lot more sedate than the Prius. The only way to tell it is a hybrid is the blue highlights in the instrument panel and the EV mode button. Everything else is the same as the regular Corolla.

The Corolla and the Corolla Cross (P1.665 million) were probably the most laidback. Both share the same 1.8-liter that produces 122-PS and 142-Nm of torque with help from the motor-generator of the Hybrid Synergy Drive system. The sedan was roomy, but the Cross offered more with its integrated trunk space, and it was also easier to climb into with its 161 mm of ground clearance. I pushed and prodded it on the highway, and it had a great pace, but consumption was even better at 19.2 km/l.

The RAV4 (starting at P2.157 million) was quite the upgrade. It was bigger, more appointed, and had a more detailed cabin. I liked its numerous storage spaces with a grippy liner that kept items in place despite the athletic performance of its 2.5-liter engine and motor combo with 218-PS and 221-Nm of torque. The nickel-metal hydride batteries were at the back, so I had to get used to its rear-heavy disposition. It returned 18.5 km/l in over 10 hours of aggressive driving.

Driving the Camry (P2.335 million) was, for me, the highlight of the trip. It has soft-touch surfaces, leather upholstery, and a JBL audio system. Comfort was excellent with its double-wishbone rear suspension, and it handled very well with the battery under the rear seats (near the center of gravity) and its low stance. It shares the same engine with the RAV4 but delivered a more efficient drive at close to 21 km/l.

TMP currently has a five-hybrid lineup, including the Prius, and of them all, the Corolla Cross is the best-selling model with some 70% of all HEV sales. It is but natural for the market to go for it. Hybrid prices are going down (while gas prices keep climbing). They’re a lot simpler to operate today and come in many shapes and sizes too. Plus, information about them is readily available, so not knowing anything about hybrids isn’t a valid excuse anymore.





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