The 2020 Toyota Corolla Altis 1.8 Hybrid


The Corolla

The Corolla has always been one of Toyota’s best selling models, for generations. It now has a Hybrid Electric Vehicle (HEV) variant or available as a Hybrid.


This generation of Corolla Altis looks pretty good, the sleek grille sweeps up into the top of the headlights and underneath it, is a black air dam just like it’s big brother Camry. You get bi-beam LED headlamps and LED line guide DRL’s up front and fog lights. Around the back are LED rear combination lights. You’ll notice very grown up looking 17” alloy rims, wrapped in 225/45 Dunlop SP Sport Maxx’s. The overall stance looks low to the ground, but you won’t have any trouble over humps in your village. This Altis has sharp, sophisticated lines, a far cry from your tito’s 1.6GL 1991 Corolla.


With Smart Entry, the doors unlock when you touch the driver door handle as long as the key FOB is in your pocket. Inside is an upscale interior with a tilt/telescopic adjust leather wrapped steering wheel and an 8-way power (driver side only) leather seats where the driver also gets lumbar support. A 12V socket is located inside the center console/armrest instead of the lower dash in front of the gear knob. It has standard connectivity options like AUX/USB and Bluetooth with a DVD/CD/mp3 player. The rear seat has a center arm rest with built in cup holders and adjustable headrests on both sides with a fixed headrest in the middle. With an abundance of soft touch materials all around.


Under the hood, is an Atkinson cycle VVT-I, 4-Cylinder In-Line DOHC, 16-valve 1.8 liter gas engine, which on it’s own puts out 97Hp at 5.200rpm with 142Nm of torque at 3,600rpm, but when integrated with a 71Hp electric motor which when run at max output together puts out 121Hp and mated to a Continuously Variable Transmission (CVT). All you have to do is select one of the drive modes – ECO, Normal and Sport and drive, the car takes care of everything else.

How does it work? Starting the car is uneventful by pressing the START button. The instrument panel lights up and a READY indicator lights up telling you that the vehicle is ready to be shifted to D like any “normal” a/t car. If the batteries have about ¾ to a full charge, you can use the EV mode or Electric Vehicle meaning it will run full electric but can only do this for short distances and at slower speeds.

And then? Drive it like you would any normal car, if it’s on ECO or Normal, given enough charge, it would silently roll off on electric power until the car determines A) there’s not enough charge in the batteries or B) you need additional power if you need to accelerate, in both cases, the engine will fire up to A) charge the battery and assist the electric motor or B) engine and motor will work together to give you the acceleration you need.

That’s pretty much the cycle, the ECO drive more tends to be more “stifled” or relaxed, to be more fuel efficient than Normal mode. In Sport mode, you’ll notice the engine is running more often and constantly working together with the electric motor. If it seems like low torque on paper, it’s not, all the electric motor’s torque is always instantly available making acceleration instantaneous, taking a lot of the initial load off the engine to get the car moving. Moving from a dead stop is what consumes more fuel than cruising. Let the car do the work and enjoy the drive knowing you’re more environmentally friendly than a conventional car.

Toyota Safety Sense

This Corolla Altis is equipped with Toyota Safety Sense, which consists of Toyota’s suite of active safety tech:

Pre-Collision System – This has sensors to detect if there is a possibility of a collision and will warn the driver with beeps and visual warnings. When the driver applies the brakes, the brake assist system will apply additional pressure to the brakes as needed. In the event the driver does not apply the brakes, the brakes will automatically be applied to prevent the collision from happening

Lane Tracing Assist & Lane Departure Alert – Lane Tracing Assist works with The Lane Departure Alert as it both warns the driver when the vehicle might depart from it’s lane and also provide steering assistance to help keep the vehicle in its lane.

Dynamic Radar Cruise Control – This is Toyota’s version of adaptive cruise control using an array of sensors that adjust the speed or the car to match that of the car in front if it slows down regardless of the set speed.

and Automatic High Beam – when the headlights are on high beam and they detect an oncoming vehicle, they will automatically switch down to low beam.

Standard Safety and Convenience

Driver, passenger, side, curtain shield, and knee airbags are standard, also are Anti-Lock Braking System (ABS) with Electronic Brake force Distribution (EBD). It’s also equipped with Vehicle Stability Control (VSC) and Hill Start Assist (HSA). Since it seats five, there are 3-point seatbelts with pre-tensioners and force limiter for the driver and passenger, and there are three point seatbelts for the three rear occupants. There are also 2 rear ISOFIX points. The entertainment system screen also doubles as a screen for the back up camera, which also has audible clearance and sonar alerts. Door locks are speed sensing and the side mirrors are power auto fold and power adjustable.

Don’t let this Corolla’s civilized, grown up, mild mannered look fool you, Toyota’s hybrid system is no slouch. It’s a wolf in sheep’s clothing. The Corolla Altis Hybrid drives and handles as well as you’d expect. Expect to feel a bit heavier around the corners as there’s the extra weight of the Metal Hydride (NiMH) batteries, but even so, it won’t slow you down. We found that by letting the car do everything, you’ll find it’s at it’s most economical. On a drive to out of town, I put it on ECO mode and switched on Cruise control. The throttle control was precise and at highway speeds, the Hybrid system shut off the engine and went to EV mode on level and downhill grades. It’s amusing listening to the sound of the engine cutting in and out and figuring out what part of the Hybrid system is working. The more the engine cuts out and electricity takes over, the less fuel you burn, the more fuel you save, the less carbon emissions you put out in the atmosphere and that’s what makes this car really stand out from “regular” cars in the same size class.

The Corolla Altis is priced at P 1,580,000, pretty much at the higher price end in this category. What you do get is a LOT of car with a lot of technology to offer. The All-New Corolla Altis Hybrid can save you money in the long run while also being considerably more earth friendly than other motorists and that’s something to think about.


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Neil Pagulayan
You can catch him daily on Mellow 94.7's morning show he also contributes on DRIVE, Manila Bulletin's motoring section...

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