Toyota Previews Future C-HR, Shows Hydrogen-Powered Corolla Cross

Toyota has just unveiled the C-HR Prologue in Europe as a preview of the second generation of its small, FWD-only crossover. However, consumers in North America shouldn’t get their hopes up.

Despite posting some decent sales numbers in Canada (but not really in the U.S.), the C-HR is not returning for the 2023 model year as the automaker prefers to focus on the Corolla Cross, which is now available with a hybrid powertrain in case you forgot. Obviously, these two vehicles couldn’t be more different in terms of styling.  

With the C-HR Prologue, Toyota designers went even further to grab people’s attention. The shape and proportions don’t change all that much beyond the larger wheels and shorter overhangs, but it’s quite a different story when it comes to the headlights and all-black rear section. Sulfur-coloured accents provide an additional layer of contrast including the roof-mounted spoiler.  

Photo: Toyota

The upcoming production model should be fairly similar to the concept (once again compromising visibility for the driver) while offering both hybrid and plug-in hybrid options.  Don’t miss our photo gallery up top for a closer look.

So we might not get a new C-HR on our shores, but a few design cues will carry over to other vehicles. For example, what Toyota calls the “hammerhead” front fascia has already been applied to the next-gen 2023 Prius we saw at the Los Angeles Auto Show.

A similar look also can be found on the bZ Compact SUV Concept, which foreshadows a small new electric crossover slotting below the bZ4X. This could be an addition to Toyota’s North American lineup in the near future. We’ll definitely keep an eye on it.

Photo: Toyota

A Corolla Cross That Runs on Hydrogen

Toyota is among a tiny group of automakers that still believe in hydrogen technology. Case in point: the freshly introduced Corolla Cross H2.

Unlike the Mirai and other fuel-cell vehicles, this one doesn’t convert hydrogen into electricity. Rather, it feeds high-pressure hydrogen directly into the combustion engine. And not just any engine—the same turbocharged 1.6-litre triple-cylinder that powers the GR Corolla hot hatch.

Photo: Toyota

Toyota has been working on it for quite some time. As we previously reported, hydrogen-powered Corolla race cars are being tested in select motorsport series in Japan.

Few technical details are available, unfortunately, but get this: a manual transmission is part of the concept’s package, too. Toyota claims the Corolla Cross H2 can still accommodate five people and their luggage despite having to dedicate precious space to the hydrogen tanks. It is reportedly 40 percent along the path to commercialization.

Photo: Toyota

Of course, hydrogen cars offer many benefits over battery-electric ones including lighter weight and much shorter refuelling times. However, the number of hydrogen stations in North America remains extremely limited. What’s more, anything other than green hydrogen (produced through water electrolysis) isn’t really a viable solution.

We all know about Toyota’s reluctance to fully embrace BEV technology, but the exact role of hydrogen in reducing CO2 emissions going forward remains to be seen.

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