Toyota’s hybrid all-wheel-drive system first appeared in the Lexus UX250h in North America and is the same system that will serve in the new 2019 Prius AWD. The system adds an electric motor onto the rear axle of the vehicle and while Toyota has yet to disclose the Prius AWD’s power output, it makes 176 hp in the UX250h.
SEE ALSO: 2019 Toyota Corolla Hatchback Review
Jack Hollis, general manager of Toyota Motor North America, didn’t scoff at the idea of a Corolla AWD when asked in a roundtable interview at the 2018 Los Angeles Auto Show. Toyota is looking to expand its hybrid offerings going forward and this hybrid all-wheel-drive system allows them to tick two boxes at once.
“There’s no doubt that it is [being considered],” Hollis said. “You’ve heard from Akio Toyota, our CEO, who has said his desire was to offer every one of our cars with a hybrid option. Or an electrification option is really what I should say. Because it can be different technologies. We’re not ready to make a comment about AWD (Corolla), but the AWD systems that are interchangeable, and or growth in AWD, is something we know is something that the US consumer has asked for, it’d be silly not to deliver on that.”
Corolla chief engineer Yoshiki-San also acknowledged that it is technically possible to drop the hybrid all-wheel-drive system into the Corolla. There are a number of Corolla variants Toyota is working on, however, and which vehicles see the light of day will depend on what the customer asks for. The automaker rolled out a front-wheel-drive Corolla Hybrid sedan in LA and doesn’t currently have plans to drop the FWD hybrid powertrain into the hatchback, with Hollis mysteriously alluding to “other special editions” for the hatch instead. He’s likely talking about a performance-oriented TRD model.
“In an agreement, we started with (hybrid) being on sedan, obviously from a volume standpoint, return on investment, it’s better for us to go there,” he said. “We’ve mentioned before our goal is to offer up hybrids on all vehicles. That has never changed. That doesn’t necessarily mean a derivation of a product. So the hatchback could get there – the hatchback has so much interest we’re actually losing (hybrid) to actually test other special editions that don’t have hybrid in them.”
So while it’s not been given the green light for production, a Corolla AWD is technically feasible and being looked at by Toyota. Are there enough Corolla fans in the northern US and Canada to make a business case for it?