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Smooth.

That’s kind of the defining word for the new Toyota Corolla Cross Hybrid.

It rolls up to you smooth. It isn’t overly sharp or edgy, it doesn’t look so nosebleed-futuristic that you will be tired of it soon. It’s got nice curves and power bulges and a very nice rear quarter, kind of like its larger sibling the RAV4. But it holds its own in the looks department. Clearly not just a raised Altis, the sedan with which it shares a TNGA platform.

Inside is smooth as well, everything is nicely integrated. Here is where you see the similarities to the Corolla Altis, and indeed most of the parts the two vehicles share come from the interior and the powertrain. The interior is clean and somewhat monochromatic, as opposed to the modern cars from newish brands that have multi-material treatments. We liked the fact that we had actual knobs for the air conditioning and the sound system, real knobs that felt good. But the Hybrid also had a nice (fixed but well-placed) infotainment screen. And, and this is a bigger deal than ever nowadays, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. And yes, syncing my phone up, which needed a cable as it wasn’t wireless, was smooth as well.

What we liked a lot about this car was the fact that it sat there, with the air conditioning on, and we didn’t even notice. It didn’t need to go into fuel-burning mode and turn on the 1.8 liter DOHC inline four cylinder engine, it sat there comfortably on battery power with the air on going strong.

Wonderful.

Now the drive. This is where everything comes together. Power application is smooth, which is what it is built for. Smoothness and efficiency. You start on battery power, then as you request more it will add fuel-engine power and then move to fuel-engine alone. And, thankfully, the internal combustion engine sounds nice. Not racy or really sporty, but not anemic or apologetic or strained. Nice. Especially when we started doing some hard acceleration runs.

Handling is nicely sorted out as well. The ride is comfortable, and Toyota engineers point to an all new torsion beam system/design that allowed them the ability to tune better for compact SUV dynamics. Those two terms don’t always go together, but they did seem to work here. Also, we made serious demands of the car, hard acceleration then hard braking then hard turns then hard acceleration all in one swift curve. Repeatedly. Stuff like that separates the men from the boys. The Corolla Cross came out stellar, not racecar-like in any way but extremely consistent for a little crossover.

We didn’t test the fuel only model, the Corolla Cross 1.8 G CVT that comes in quite well-priced at P1,285,000. That has all the basic safety features such as ABS and Vehicle Stabilty Control with Traction Control and 7 airbags and such. The Hybrid is the Corolla Cross 1.8 H HV, and it starts just under four hundred grand more. For P1,650,000 you get the hybrid powertrain system (still CVT transmission) but you get the Toyota Safety Sense Package, leather seats and Apple CarPlay and Android Auto and more.

These two cars will be competing in almost entirely different niches. The G will be going up against many new China made cars, while the Hybrid will be pulling in buyers from other crossovers but also sedans. The fact that is has that hybrid system, and such a well-sorted one at that, should really make the Toyota Corolla Cross Hybrid the crossover to beat.