As someone who’ve had his formative years during the ‘90s, the Toyota Corolla Altis is more than just an acquaintance. I grew up seeing the Corolla Altis (called just the Corolla back then) as the staple family sedan, to the point that it has become an icon of the era – just like boy bands and Caterpillars.
Seeing the Toyota Corolla Altis grew up and mature is quite personal for me. So, when Toyota Motor Philippines asked if I wanted to take the new Corolla Altis Hybridfor a spin after its launch, I didn’t hesitate to say yes. I need to know what the hype is all about.
Here are a few first impressions on the 2020 Corolla Altis after a quick test drive.
Looks are subjective, but I think we can all agree that the all-new Corolla Altis looks far better than the outgoing model. Just like the bigger Camry, the 2020 Corolla Altis drops its vanilla styling – armed with sharp LEDs and more flair on the body, the compact sedan has more character. Well, at least in its Hybrid variant that I tested.
TMP claimed that the car now has a wider stance than before but in the metal, Toyota seems to have chosen the default sedan formula – that’s in comparison with the really wide and aggressive stance of other compact sedans. Well, that’s Toyota being Toyota.
Benefits of the new TNGA platform
It’s hard to discern the full benefits of the TNGA platform based on a few minutes of driving the all-new Corolla. But from what I’ve experienced, the feeling was kind of similar to what the Camry offered during my review. Low seat height and an engaging driving position – things you won’t find in the previous generations of the Corolla.
Other platform updates warrant a longer driving time for a more decisive assessment, so keep an eye out for that until we get a full week for a full review.
The range-topping V Hybrid variant has a modern vibe to it, led by its leather upholstery, soft-touch panels, and the array of colored displays on the instrument panel and the floating infotainment system. There were some hard plastics, but they’re fairly minimal. I wish I could say the same for the piano black plastics, though.
I didn’t have the chance to pair up my smartphone with the head unit and the system didn’t have Apple Carplay and Android Auto. For those asking, Bluetooth is still the way to go for this generation of the compact sedan.
At the helm, the seat was soft and supportive, plus it was easy to find an appropriate driving position with the motorized adjustment. The whole feeling was reminiscent of the RAV4, including the leather steering wheel’s design, shape, feel, and size. The rear cabin, on the other hand, has A/C vents plus legroom's more than decent with my passengers standing at 5'4" and 5'10".
High hopes for the Hybrid
It’s obvious that Toyota is taking the family sedan route with the all-new Corolla Altis Hybrid. Having the same output as the other lower variants, the Corolla Altis Hybrid didn’t scream performance. It veered towards comfort, rather. The steering feel’s light and within the test drive route, the car remained on EV mode, so you won’t hear any sound from the engine at all. Partnered with well-insulated NVH and pliant suspension, the car makes for a really comfy ride.
Although when needed, more power can be accessible through a deeper press on the accelerator, with the internal combustion engine engaging at the right time. But then again, you’ll feel the limitations of a CVT at this point. Unfortunately, the hybrid engine’s strength in fuel efficiency wasn’t taken during the testing period.
The 2020 Corolla Altis Hybrid is the only variant to feature Toyota’s Safety Sense, but I wasn't able to test that within the confines of the city. I’ll have this tested properly on my full review, especially the radaradaptive cruise control and lane-keep assist that I absolutely love to use on long drives. At P1,580,000, it would be the main selling point of this car, along with the hybrid powertrain.
121 hp @ 5,200 rpm
Toyota Corolla Altis 1.8 V Hybrid CVT
Number of Cylinders
Number of Valves
Continuously Variable Transmission (CVT)
Max Output (HP)
121 hp @ 5,200 rpm
Max Torque (nm)
207 Nm @ 3,600 rpm
Economy & Environment
Number of Doors
Number of Seats
Safety & Security
Front Passenger's Airbag
Auto Brake System
Electronic Brake Distribution
Anti-lock Brake System (ABS)
with Electronic Brake Force Distribution and Brake Assist