When it comes to a daily driver, I don’t need something that launches from 0 to 100 in a fraction of a second or produces a million kW per tonne etc. However, it must have plenty of space and relatively inexpensive to maintain and run. This is probably why I drive a 2004 Toyota Caldina when not driving other people’s cars.
Now that could be the perfect segway to introducing a Toyota which I believe captures the essence of the old Caldina and blends it into a fuel efficient and practical package for the modern day. Enter the Toyota Corolla Wagon GX Hybrid.
At $36,990 TDP (Toyota Driveaway), the Corolla Wagon GX Hybrid is part of the now “Hybrid-Only” Corolla family, unless you count the hot GR. The hybrid part of the equation is the a 1.8L petrol four cylinder engine coupled with an electric hybrid power train and seven-speed e-CVT transmission. Combined power is rated at 103kW of power and 142Nm. Fuel consumption is rated at a combined 3.8L/100km, and CO2 emissions at 88g/km.
The current Corolla is still a handsome car, whether it is as a hatch or wagon, but the GX doesn’t stand out with chrome accents and a two-tone colour scheme like its ZR hatch counterpart. That said, you can jazz up for GX Wagon with a list of aftermarket visual additives from Toyota’s back catalogue but that is another story. On the standard car you get 16-inch alloys, a revised black front grill, black accents all around, a cap-on-backwards boot spoiler and triple LED headlights. It sits at 4495mm long and 1745mm wide.
Inside that Corolla interior of form and function continues its familiarity in earnest. Plus, I firmly believe that at this price point, Toyota do some of the most comfortable seats around. There are plenty of places to store items and head and legroom is decent. Rear passenger space is also capacious.
To be a true wagon, the GX must have an additionally capacious boot. At 391L its ok, in fact its actually quite similar to the hatch in some respects, but you can still get plenty in there thanks to its length. It is still more generous than some urban crossovers and loading entry and exit is a breeze. I used the GX for a variety of tasks as one would in a daily drive environment and I can safely say it took it all in its stride.
It might not be loaded with gadgets but you still have more than you need, with an 8-inch touch screen infotainment system, reversing camera, adaptive cruise control, Apple CarPlay/Android Auto connectivity, and USB –c-ports all coming as standard.
You also get Toyota’s Safety Sense Suite with features like a Pre Collision System with Autonomous Emergency Braking: Pedestrian, Motorcycle Detection, Intersection Turn Assist and Emergency Steering Assist. There is also Lane Tracing Assist, Road Sign Assist, and Active Cornering Assist, the latter of these brakes the inside wheel to combat the building up of potential under steer in the corners.
Get underway and you are able to move forward silently but once you gain momentum, the 1.8L petrol engine wakes up and you get the mechanical burble of a Toyota four pot. The way it changes between electric and petrol power is rather seamless too, never giving you any real sensation of a change in propulsion, apart from the lack of noise, obviously. Rear visibility is half decent too but I did find the A-pillars a bit too intrusive.
It shifts along nicely when you ease off the throttle and set the adaptive cruise control just so for an open road run. The seven-speed e-CVT transmission is slick and responsive, as is the progression of power when you decide the time has come to overtake. The fact you are sitting on lower profile tyres means the ride is that teensy bit more comfortable than I found in the ZR hatch.
You can also, dare I say it, have a smattering of fun when you put it in sport mode. It won’t give you the giggles, but you don’t expect that. Its competent ability to corner well without feeling under dampened or wayward means Toyota’s engineers have done their homework.
I really like the Toyota Corolla Wagon GX Hybrid. Yes, Wagons may be in the shadow of crossovers in the sales charts these days but they still have a distinct charm and good driving and practical ability which can hook those who don’t want to conform to the SUV norm.
It just does everything very well and while its not without the odd shortcoming, there is still plenty to like. Oh, and as a daily driver, it could be even better than my Caldina. High praise indeed.