Toyota Yaris Cross review
The Toyota Yaris Cross is a handsome compact SUV with an extremely economical hybrid powertrain. It’s well-built and suitably spacious, but it does feel firm over lumps and bumps
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The the regular Toyota Yaris small car isn’t quite butch enough for you, then cast your eyes over the new Yaris Cross.
It’s effectively the exact same car as the regular hatchback, only it’s been given a bit of extra rough-and-tumble small SUV appeal to make it taller in stature and a bit longer nose-to-tail. You could think of it like a standard Yaris that’s juiced itself up on steroids before heading down the gym for an intense work-out session.
Size-wise, it sits alongside an almost endless list of alternatives. You’ve got the likes of the Ford Puma and the Renault Captur, as well as the Peugeot 2008 and the Vauxhall Mokka to name but a few.
One thing those cars all bring to the table is their distinctive styling, so it’s good to see that the Yaris Cross doesn’t fall short in this department. Looks-wise it’s clearly related to the regular Yaris – particularly when viewed from behind – but its jumped up ride height and plastic cladding around the bumpers give it a bit more presence and visual clout. It’s a bit more rufty-tufty than the standard Yaris, but it’s still a good looking little car.
That good design form continues on the inside, too. So far we’ve only driven a left-hand drive European-spec test car that roughly lines up with the Dynamic trim level we get in the UK, but it featured plenty of squidgy, soft-touch plastics and that look smart and feel great. In classic Toyota fashion, everything feels solidly screwed together too.
You sit in a perched position with a good view out, in seats that are comfortable and snug-fitting. Although you don’t have the option of speccing electrically-adjustable seats, it’s still easy to get settled in behind the wheel. Space is a bit tight in the back – headroom-wise, you certainly won’t feel like you’re sat in church – but there’s enough room for two taller adults to sit in reasonable comfort.
Hard not to be impressed by how economical the Yaris Cross is. All versions are well-equipped too, but I'd avoid the four-wheel-drive versions.
The Toyota’s boot is up to 397 litres in capacity with the rear seats in place, so it’s bigger than a Vauxhall Mokka’s, but smaller than a Peugeot 2008’s. Still, a flat floor with no lip makes it easy to load and unload, and a configurable boot floor brings a handy level of versatility too.
You also get a good level of safety and assistance features across the range. Adaptive cruise control is standard, as are autonomous emergency braking and lane keep assist. All-round parking sensors are available optionally as part of a pack, and so is blind-spot monitoring.
And as for engines? Well, the Yaris Cross is only available with a single 1.5-litre, 3-cylinder petrol-electric hybrid powertrain, which develops a respectable 114bhp and drives the front wheels through an easy-going automatic CVT transmission. Four-wheel drive is available too.
Performance isn’t especially brisk (0-60mph takes 11.2 seconds), but the electric motor gives the Yaris Cross a useful accelerative boost at low speeds – so you’ll easily keep pace with the traffic around town. And because it can run for very short periods of time on electricity alone, the Yaris Cross is exceptionally fuel efficient – we saw 60mpg during our time with the car.
Lightweight, accurate steering and good visibility make it a very easy car to trundle about town in, but a firm low-speed ride can make for a bit of jostling and fidgeting over rougher patches of road. It’s certainly comfier at open road speeds, and although there’s a bit of tyre roar and wind noise this isn’t deafening.
It grips well through corners too, and doesn’t roll about too much at all when you press on a bit. You wouldn’t call it a particularly fun car to drive, but then entertainment value isn’t really what these sorts of cars are all about anyway. Instead, the Yaris Cross focuses on being a handsome, reasonably practical, easy-driving and extremely economical small SUV.
Prices start from just above £22,000, and deliveries are due to begin in September. So if you like the sound of the Yaris Cross, head on over to our deals page to see how much money you can save through carwow.
The Yaris Cross might be shaped like an SUV, but it isn’t the most spacious small SUV around. Back seat passengers will be comfy enough, but no more
You don’t get the option of fully electrically-adjustable seats in the Yaris Cross, but even with manual adjustment it’s still very easy to get comfortable behind the wheel. You can bring the steering wheel fairly close to your chest too, so you don’t have to stretch yourself out to reach it.
The actual driving position is a pretty lofty one, and you can see out the front and the back well enough. The sloping rear pillars do take up a bit of over-the-shoulder visibility, but not too much.
With the front seats set up for a taller driver, there’s still a reasonable amount of room in the back. Sure, your knees will be very close to the front seat backs and your head will be brushing the roof lining, but there’s enough wiggle room here to keep most adult passengers comfortable over shorter to medium-distance journeys. Just don’t try to squeeze a third passenger in the middle seat.
There’s decent storage space for random bits and pieces on board the Yaris Cross. Up front you’ll find a few trays and compartments within the dash where you can stash your phone or your wallet, while the door bins are large enough to hold a small bottle.
Back seat passengers will find storage is slightly more limited, but the door bins in the rear are still large enough to keep your drink bottle held in place, and there are cup holders too.
The Yaris Cross’ boot space varies between the two-wheel-drive model and the pricier four-wheel-drive car. In the front-wheel-drive car, you’ll find 397 litres of storage capacity behind the rear seats, which is more than you’ll get in a Vauxhall Mokka but less than alternatives such as the Renault Captur, Volkswagen T-Cross and Peugeot 2008. In the four-wheel-drive model, that figure drops to 320 litres.
The boot opening is a good size, and a configurable floor (standard on Excel grade cars and above) can be set so that there’s no lip – all of which is really handy when you’re trying to load heavy items into the car.
If you need to store taller items, you can set the floor to its lowest position to help open up a bit more space. You can get luggage-holding belts to help keep your stuff from moving around while you’re driving too.
The hybrid powertrain is exceptionally economical, but could be more refined. Its town ride is a touch firm, too
The Yaris Cross is only available with a single 1.5-litre petrol-electric hybrid powertrain. With 114hp on tap it isn’t the most powerful setup around (the run from 0-60mph takes 11.2sec), but thanks to its ability to run for very short periods of time on battery power alone, efficiency is very good indeed. During our time with the car, we averaged 60mpg pretty effortlessly.
Your only choice in transmission is a continuously-variable automatic (CVT), which does make the engine drone away pretty loudly when you accelerate hard for extended periods of time. Our test car was a pre-production model, however, so it’s likely that this won’t be as much of an issue in the finished product.
You get a choice between two- and four-wheel-drive variants as well. Fuel efficiency takes a tiny hit if you go for the 4WD car – as does performance. Unless you’re absolutely dead-set on having a car with four driven wheels, our pick would be the standard two-wheel-drive car.
You sit in a reasonably perched position in the Yaris Cross, with good visibility forwards and backwards. You’re not quite as high up as you would be in a larger, conventional SUV – but you certainly get a clearer view of the road ahead than you would in a regular supermini. You know, one like the standard Yaris Hybrid.
That good visibility combines with the Toyota’s lightweight steering and compact dimensions to make for easy manoeuvrability around town too. It’s easy to park using the mirrors alone, but there’s also a standard fit reversing camera to make the process even easier.
Thanks to the electric motor that makes up part of the hybrid drive system, the Yaris Cross also feels punchy around town, so you can easily nip in and out of gaps in the traffic. With no clutch pedal to operate, you won’t have to worry about a tired left leg in rush-hour gridlock either.
Its suspension errs on the firmer side of things, so on particularly patchy stretches of road the Yaris Cross can feel a bit restless and agitated. But it settles down nicely on the open road, to make for a reasonably comfortable long-distance car. There’s a bit of tyre roar of course, and some wind whistle around the wing mirrors, but no more than is average for these sorts of cars.
So far we’ve only driven the front-wheel-drive model, but you won’t find it suffers from a shortage of grip. Its lightweight steering is a bit numb, but it’s accurate enough that you can steer it through bends with plenty of confidence. That firmer set-up means it doesn’t roll too much either – but it’s still not the most entertaining car to point down your favourite country road.
Function takes priority over form, but the cabin is still a reasonably attractive and very well-made place to spend time
Toyota Yaris Cross colours
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