- Frugal drivetrain
- Cheap to service
- Decent to drive
- Cramped interior
- Lacking equipment available overseas
In Australia especially, Toyota is the king of the SUV. Known for producing dessert-bashing off-roaders such as the LandCruiser in its various forms that have been around for up to six decades, Toyota has been busy adding to its smaller SUV range in recent times as buyer tastes gravitate away from hatchbacks and sedans to SUVs. While the RAV4 and more recently, the C-HR, take up a big slice of the SUV cake, Toyota has made yet another SUV option for buyers to consider. Enter the 2021 Toyota Yaris Cross Urban, which is what the C-HR is to the Corolla: based on the the same platform with largely the same interior, but rides slightly higher and is seemingly more practical.
Price & Equipment: 7/10
Yaris Cross models start at $30,558 drive away, but we tested the top-spec Urban. Fitted with the optional hybrid drivetrain and the further optional all-wheel drive system and metallic paint with a contrast roof, our test car was priced at $43,336 drive away – the most you can spend on a Yaris Cross locally, and getting seriously expensive.Â
Standard kit on the top-spec Yaris Cross includes 18-inch alloy wheels, automatic all-LED exterior lighting, half leather and cloth upholstery, a six-way electric driver’s seat, heated front seats, single-zone climate control, a leather steering wheel and gearknob, a 7.0-inch touchscreen with wired Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, satellite navigation with live traffic, digital radio, a heads-up display, heated and auto-folding mirrors, keyless entry and start, rear privacy glass and an electric tailgate with kick-to-open functionality.
Standard safety kit is impressive with eight airbags, auto emergency braking (AEB) with pedestrian, cyclist and intersection assist, lane departure warning with lane trace assist, adaptive cruise control with stop and go functionality, auto high beam, speed sign recognition, blind-spot monitoring with rear cross-traffic alert, auto rear braking, driver attention monitoring, a 360-degree camera and front and rear parking sensors.
The only no-cost colour is ‘Ink’ (black), while ‘Latte’, ‘Lunar Blue’, ‘Mineral Blue’, ‘Tuscan Gold’, ‘Atomic Rush’ (which our test car was painted in), ‘Stunning Silver’ and ‘Crystal Pearl’ (white) are $575 extra. A two-tonne roof starts at $450 for a ‘Tuscan Gold’ roof over ‘Ink’, while a black contrasting roof on any other colour except ‘Lunar Blue’ is $950 (including the cost of the metallic paint).Â The 1970s-esque brown upholstery is the only interior trim colour on offer.
While the Yaris Cross is reasonably well equipped – especially its excellent standard safety kit – it’s quite expensive. What’s worse about the Yaris Cross is that “ like the standard Yaris “ overseas spec models are much better equipped. Available kit elsewhere includes a panoramic glass roof, dual-zone climate control, a JBL sound system, a larger 9.0-inch touchscreen with wireless Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, roof rails, front fog lights, rear scrolling indicators, a heated steering wheel, full leather upholstery, automatic wipers, a centre console with covered storage, automatic parking, a larger digital instrument cluster, Matrix headlights and wireless charging. Featuring at least some of these pieces of equipment (without a price increase) would make the Yaris Cross Urban better value.
Performance & Economy: 8/10
Under the bonnet of the 2021 Toyota Yaris Cross Urban is an 88kW/145Nm 1.5-litre three-cylinder petrol engine, though our test car featured the optional 85kW 1.5-litre three-cylinder hybrid drivetrain that we consider a necessity with the Yaris Cross. All Yaris Cross models use a CVT automatic transmission and while it’s nothing special, you quickly learn how to best control it.
The hybrid set up of the Yaris Cross is largely excellent. The engine itself produces 67kW/120Nm, while the electrics add a further 59kW to make a total output of 85kW. Even with moderate acceleration, the revs spike and you’re suddenly in a sea of loud three-cylinder noise. The engines noisiness is a surprise in contrast with how quiet the Yaris Cross can be in electric mode, which occurs surprisingly a lot. Indeed, it is possible to drive the Yaris Cross on pure electric power a lot of the time. The Yaris Cross’ engine also switches off when you’re not accelerating, which allows it to save fuel.
Toyota claims fuel consumption of just 4.0L/100km, which is 1.4L/100km less than the front-wheel drive 1.5L petrol Yaris Cross and in our testing we averaged 4.8L/100km and that included some highway driving, which is where hybrids are typically less efficient. The Yaris Cross can use 91RON regular unleaded and features a 36-litre tank. Filling it up will cost you around $54 (based on $1.50 a litre) and that’ll get you around 900km on a tank, which is excellent.Â
Ride & Handling: 8/10
The Yaris Cross is based on the same TNGA platform as the regular Yaris and like it and all other modern Toyota products, it drives quite well. Like other modern Toyota products, the Yaris Cross’ ride and handling is decent. It’s a touch firm but its body control is excellent, the steering offers reasonable feel and the handling is surprisingly fun. This is helped by choosing the all-wheel drive Yaris Cross, which adds independent rear suspension that adds greater sophistication.Â
The Yaris Cross all-wheel drive system is unique in the segment in that its rear differential is solely powered by the rear electric motor, which is how the all-wheel drives claimed combined fuel consumption is just 0.2L/100km more than the two-wheel drive car. The system offers some off-road tech as well “ theres hill descent control and both mud/snow and gravel/rock modes for light off-road use. It disengages above 70km/h though, so for snow trips, it would be great.
At speed, the Yaris Cross is loud with a lot of tyre roar and wind noise. Its visibility isn’t great either, thanks to its thick C-pillars – the grainy 360-degree parking camera helps massively. Its brakes – which are regenerative – are also well modulated and unlike some other hybrid cars, feel quite natural.
Interior & Practicality: 7/10
As the name suggests, the 2021 Toyota Yaris Cross Urban’s interior largely follows the same path as the standard Yaris. That means that it’s good quality, ergonomic and reasonable practical – though up against other small SUVs, cracks to appear in its armour. The Yaris Cross is quite well screwed together with a solid and long-lasting feel, though a lot of the materials used leave a lot to be desired, especially in the brown colouring of the Urban that will date quite quickly. The top of the dashboard is soft, but everything else is hard.
Centre of the Yaris Cross’ interior is a 7.0-inch touchscreen that’s well featured with wired Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, satellite navigation with live traffic updates and digital radio. The screen quality itself is not great, and it’s a touch slow to use. In the Urban, there are two USB ports – one for charging and one for smartphone mirroring – though no wireless phone charging.
Interior storage is not great inside the Yaris Cross either – there is no covered storage (ridiculous on a $43,336 drive away car, in our opinion) and no centre armrest but reasonable cup holders and door pockets. But there’s good adjustment in the driving position – even with the strange seat controls and a lack of lumbar adjustment – and the steering wheel is a quality item. The seats are also quite comfortable as well.
Move to the rear seat and things are less positive for the Yaris Cross. Its doors don’t open wide, the door aperture itself is narrow, the available room is tight and it’s light on features with just a single door pocket, small door bottle holders and a 40:20:40-split rear seat with a folding arm rest with cupholders.
Rear charging ports can be added as a dealer-fit accessory, though there are no rear vents at all.
The 2021 Toyota Yaris Cross Urban AWD offers up 314-litres (76L less than the 2WD variant thanks to the rear differential and independent rear suspension) with the seats up “ Toyota doesn’t quote a figure with them folded. The Yaris Cross AWD does not feature a spare wheel of any kind.
Service & Warranty: 8/10
Toyota offers five years/unlimited km of warranty with its new cars, though no roadside assistance. It needs to be serviced once every year or every 15,000km, whichever comes first. Five years of servicing costs $1,075 ($205 per service), though buyers must pay extra through a third party for roadside assistance. A bonus is that you get a further two years of mechanical warranty if you service your car at a Toyota dealership – and with service pricing that low, why would you not? It’s a no brainer.
The 2021 Toyota Yaris Cross Urban Hybrid AWD DiscoverAuto Rating: 7.6/10
The 2021 Toyota Yaris Cross Urban is a solid addition to both the Toyota SUV range and the small SUV segment. It features a long list of attributes that we think small SUV buyers will like – it drives well, offers an efficient hybrid drivetrain, optional all-wheel drive, a funky cabin with a handsome exterior, the raised driving position SUV buyers crave and it’s a Toyota, so it’ll be endlessly reliable.
It’s not perfect, however. The interior could be more spacious and feature-packed, there’s very little storage and worst of all is that it doesn’t feel very good value for money as overseas variants get a lot more standard equipment and it looks expensive in comparison to rivals. Moving down the Yaris Cross chain helps the value equation significantly and is much easier to recommend, but the fundamentals of the car are solid and make it worth consideration in the heavily populated small SUV segment.