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A Closer Look at the Fifth-Generation Toyota Hybrid System

There’s no question that Toyota is the king of hybrids. The Japanese automaker pioneered this type of powertrain in the late 1990s when it introduced the first-generation Prius. Fast forward to the 2020s and there are over a dozen electrified vehicles in Toyota’s lineup. It recently release a new setup in the Corolla Cross Hybrid and refreshed 2023 Corolla Hybrid that aims to offer improved power and efficiency. Let’s take a closer look at the new powertrains and see where they could potentially land.

What did Toyota change?

The fifth-generation Toyota hybrid system has two versions. One uses a 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine while another utilizes a smaller 1.8-liter. These evolved from two existing powertrains. While Toyota made improvements to the internal combustion components, the big tweaks revolve around the electrified side of the powertrain. You get a smaller lithium-ion battery that’s 40 percent lighter and a more powerful main electric drive motor. In e-AWD application, the rear electric drive motor mounted possesses significantly more output than the existing system. The battery is now mounted under the rear seats, freeing up cargo space.

Thanks to these changes, you get a nice bump in combined output. In the upcoming 2023 Corolla Cross Hybrid, you have 194 hp or 13 hp more than the older unit in the UX 250h. Toyota hasn’t announced the output of the 2023 Corolla Hybrid yet but we’re sure it’s the same 138 hp as the European version. That’s a healthy 17-hp bump over the version found in the pre-refresh model and the Prius. The rear electric drive motor, on the other hand, gets a significant bump to 43 hp in both vehicles, meaning the e-AWD variants could offer a significant performance increase.

Which Cars are Getting the New Hybrid System?

The Corolla family is just the initial application of the fifth-generation hybrid system. We’re expecting more to use it including the second-generation C-HR and, most importantly, the fifth-generation Prius. The latter could use a slightly more potent version of the 1.8-liter-based system. It should also remain incredibly efficient and see a nice bump in fuel economy ratings that’ll bring it one step closer to the 60-mpg combined mark in the EPA cycle. What about the latter you ask? That could follow the Corolla Cross Hybrid’s lead and use the 2.0-liter-based unit. As the more dynamic-looking mode, the C-HR could get more power to back up its funky looks and sportier suspension calibration.

Expect mainly the smaller vehicles on Toyota’s TNGA-C platform to use these two powertrains. The larger vehicles underpinned by the TNGA-K architecture used the 2.5-liter or 2.4-liter turbo-four-based units with at least 208 hp. As before, those looking for a plug-in hybrid will only have one choice: the Prius Prime. That should use a more powerful main electric drive motor and a larger lithium-ion battery mounted under the floor. Expect that to have significantly more power than the standard Prius and the ability to travel long distances in all-electric mode.

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