As NZ’s most popular brand by far, Toyota knows how to hit the sweet spot for Kiwi buyers. The brand is a long-time (like, over two decades) master of petrol-electric hybrid technology and Corolla is one of the best-known, best-loved passenger-car models in NZ history.
The Corolla Cross brings the two together, to brilliant effect. This is the first Corolla-badged SUV and while it doesn’t look a whole lot like its hatch and wagon siblings, they’re all on the same platform. Sure, it could easily have been called something else – but why deny a brilliant feelgood marketing opportunity?
It’s hybrid right across the range, with lithium-ion battery technology. All models are powered by a 2.0-litre petrol engine and most are FWD, although the flagship Limited adds AWD and more sophisticated rear suspension for those buyers wanting to add a bit more crossover/SUV to this tall hatch.
Toyota’s hybrid technology works brilliantly as always and that 4.8l/100km official figure (for the FWD) really is achievable if you’re prepared to treat the electrified tech sympathetically. It’s really good at maximising the use of the electric motor in slow urban driving, recharging the battery little and often when you’re coasting or braking.
The interior is highly functional and the controls follow a familiar Toyota template; you cannot help but be impressed by the airy feel and generous space provided for all occupants. Kiwis love Corollas and they love this new one too.
Runners Up: Kia Niro, Honda ZR-V
TOYOTA COROLLA CROSS
ENGINE: 2.0-litre petrol four with hybrid system
POWER: 146kW (combined)/190Nm
GEARBOX: Continuously variable, FWD or AWD