- Yaris characteristics with RAV4 practicality
- Modern interior with clear dials and easy-to-operate tech
- All models are packed with class leading safety kit as standard
- Back seat passengers will complain about limited leg if front seats are pushed well back
- Quite a lot of hard plastic surfaces inside the cabin
- The information screen behind the steering wheel is quite complicated
The Toyota Yaris has always had a very loyal fanbase over the years, but now the attraction has increased with the introduction of the all-new Yaris Cross. And it is a Cross by name and Cross by nature as Toyota has cleverly mixed up all that is good in the Yaris city car with the added practicality that SUV dimensions bring to the table.
And it’s not like Toyota is new to the SUV sector either as the RAV4 is now celebrating more than 25 years in the industry.
With prices starting from a competitive £22,515, customers can choose from richly-equipped trims called Icon, Design, Excel, Dynamic and a limited-run Premiere Edition. There is also the option to upgrade to intelligent all-wheel drive on the high-end models.
And it’s good to know that the Yaris Cross has been developed and built in Europe for European customers.
On The Road
The Yaris Cross is built on Toyota’s GA-B small car platform that combines the fourth-generation Toyota hybrid electric powertrain in an SUV package with the option of a lightweight AWD system on certain models.
At the heart is a 1.5-litre, three-cylinder hybrid engine that has the same basic structure as the larger 2.0-litre unit found in the Toyota Corolla and CH-R. The maximum output from the engine and electric motors is 114bhp with 120Nm of torque and those figures result in performance statistics that are not too bad at all. The 0-62mph sprint time is 11.2 seconds for FWD models and 11.8 seconds for AWD versions. And the maximum speed is 106mph.
We opted for the high-end Yaris Cross Dynamic and it lived up to all the hype on a three-hour road trip that incorporated motorways, country lanes and busy town centres.
The acceleration is instant and there is ample power on tap to overtake slower moving traffic. The steering is nicely weighted and the road holding is confident through tighter bends.
There are drive modes called Normal, Eco and Power that alter the mannerisms of the Yaris Cross, along with an EV-only mode which is ideal when travelling through zero emission charge zones.
Shift the gear lever into B as opposed to D for Drive and the regenerative braking becomes much sharper virtually bringing the car to a standstill without touching the brake pedal.
The car also features the latest generation of automatic parking systems to make anyone look an expert when trying to manoeuvre into the tightest of spaces.
Performance and handling have always been key features of the Yaris, so even a slightly grown-up compact SUV version still needs to deliver. And it does just that.
The high rigid body helps to produce stable handling along with a comfortable ride and the car’s low centre of gravity means the vehicle feels well balanced into tighter bends.
The car features a new suspension system that has been specially developed with light weight structures. This helps with the agility and fun factor. In fairness, being slightly more mature than the Yaris and certainly the GR Yaris, this SUV version is still great to drive. Our car was riding on 18-inch wheels which seemed just right.
It fizzes through the lanes, but is composed on motorways alongside HGVs and it’s beautifully agile in busier town centres with the 5.3 metre turning radius making light work of three-point turns should you ignore the advice from the sat nav lady!
With improved insulation, occupants are treated to a nicely refined cabin with little road surface or wind noise filtering through.
The clever intelligent all-wheel drive system, if fitted, offers added assurance in more adverse driving and weather conditions and there are different modes called Trail and Snow. In Trail the system will automatically brake any spinning wheels directing the drive force to those with grip. And in Snow mode the system tempers the throttle response enabling the driver to pull away when faced with ice or snow conditions.
Developed in the South of France, the five-door Yaris Cross and its sibling the Yaris, have been engineered to suit European roads. The design theme for Yaris Cross was ‘Easy, Smart, Fast’ which basically means developing a car that’s ideal for day-to-day activities be it city centre driving or venturing further afield.
It boasts quite a powerful compact SUV stance when viewed from any angle with larger wheels adding to the visual impact. There are two front grilles that is a signature design theme for Toyota SUVs, along with slim headlights and LED circular fog lights set at the bottom of the lower grille, privacy glass and a black roof.
It features wide rear haunches and from Design grade up, all the rear lights use LED technology with sequential turn indicators. Our car, in Dynamic trim, looked awesome with its black grille, black wheel arches, black wheels and black door pillars.
When it comes to sizing, the Yaris Cross is 95mm taller, 20mm wider and 240mm longer than the standard Yaris, although the wheelbase remains unchanged. And customers can choose from 16, 17 or 18-inch wheels depending on trim level.
Moving inside, the interior has a modern, clutter-free appearance with a centre console that is the main focal point, flowing down from the multimedia display screen to the shift lever.
There is a separate climate control panel with seat heater buttons, which is very practical for adjusting the temperature on the fly, and the Drive Mode select switch along with the all-wheel drive controls (if fitted) are located just in front of the gear shift lever.
In The Car
Behind the Wheel
The high-seated driving position means the driver has a commanding view of the road and there is ample seat and steering wheel adjustment so it’s easy to find a comfy position.
The Yaris Cross sees the debut of Toyota’s new Smart Connect Multimedia system with faster operation and additional functionality. There is the Touch 2 multimedia system with a nine-inch high-definition touchscreen, sat nav, DAB radio, a six-speaker sound system and wireless smartphone connectivity via Apple CarPlay and Android Auto.
In addition, owners can remotely control a number of features such as locking or unlocking the vehicle, checking and adjusting the on-board climate control, and activating the hazard lights which is really handy when searching for the vehicle in a busy car park.
All the controls, dials and readouts are ideally positioned for driver usability and the touchscreen offers clear, crisp graphics, while the colour instrumental display behind the steering wheel keeps all the vital data such as speed and fuel levels in the driver’s eye-line, along with details about hybrid driving performance. There is quite a lot of graphics and numbers, but it can be minimalised a little.
New systems will be added via over-the-air software updates and special mention to the excellent advanced parking assist system that is faster than many rivals and can also be used at night.
Space & Practicality
The Yaris Cross offers compact SUV practicality with easy-to-use load space thanks to smart packaging. With all seats in an upright position there is 397 litres of storage space in the boot, but when you drop the split-folding rear seat, this increases to 1,097 litres.
The rear seats can be folded 60:40 on lower trim grades, but as you move up through the grades there is the option to introduce 40:20:40 split-folding rear seats to the mix. There is also the availability of a split-level boot floor on higher trims so taller or larger items can be transported.
There are a number of convenient storage compartments located throughout the vehicle too, including a glovebox, a phone tray, front cup holders, seat back pockets, door bins and a large tray just in front of the gear stick.
Comfort levels up front are very good with ample space for a couple of six footers. The room in the rear rather depends on how far the front seats are pushed back. There is space for a couple of adults to sit quite comfortably, but add a third and it all gets a little too cosy.
The rear doors open nice and wide offering good access to a child seat and the slightly elevated seating makes getting in and out of the car easier too.
The Toyota Yaris Cross is priced from £22,515 for the entry-level Icon model and rises to £30,545 for the range-topping Premiere Edition with AWD-i.
Our test car, in Dynamic trim, cost £26,465 although the price was bumped up by a further £450 due to the addition of a high-end JBL premium sound system. The car is available with intelligent all-wheel drive, which adds an extra £2,360 to the cost.
According to official WLTP testing, the Yaris Cross Dynamic can deliver a combined 54.6-56.5mpg (55.2 on AWD-i models), which is a best-in-class for fuel economy, with carbon emissions of 112.0-11.7.2g/km (115-116g/km on AWD-i versions).
These CO2 figures would result in a first year Vehicle Excise Duty charge – otherwise known as road tax – of £180 dropping to the standard £155 after 12 months.
Toyota believes the Design version will account for about 50 per cent of sales and, despite initially thinking just three per cent of buyers would opt for i-AWD, initial pre-sales figures show that number to be nearer to 10-15 per cent.
The Toyota Yaris Cross in entry-level Icon format sits in insurance group 11, but all other versions, including our test car, are placed in group 12.
Quality & Reliability
Toyota has built up an enviable reputation throughout the industry for developing reliable cars that will run and run. It was also one of the pioneers of hybrid technology so is now at the forefront moving forward into a cleaner, greener future.
The car feels well put together with lots of practical surfaces, plus strong hard-wearing upholstery and materials throughout. It’s easy to see it has been designed with durability in mind, but still maintains a high-quality finish with wipe clean surfaces and strong switchgear.
The Yaris Cross comes with Toyota’s three-year, 60,000-mile warranty, but owners can extend the cover at no extra cost through the Toyota Relax programme. This requires vehicles are serviced at an authorised Toyota centre and they gain an extra year and 10,000 miles cover up to a limit of 10 years or 100,000 miles.
Safety & Security
The Yaris Cross is available with intelligent All-Wheel Drive on Dynamic and Premiere Edition models, which deploys an additional independent electric motor on the rear axle for added grip and stability when pulling away and cornering, along with extra safety when driving on slippery surfaces.
This lightweight system works well without having too much of an impact on fuel efficiency and running costs.
It boasts all the second-generation Safety Sense features as standard across the entire range which means all models are fitted with pre-collision system, lane trace assist, full-range intelligent adaptive cruise control, road sign assist and automatic high beam.
There are Isofix child seat fixtures, anti-lock brakes, hill-start assist, vehicle stability control, driver attention alert, tyre pressure warning and a full suite of airbags across the line-up too
Blind spot monitoring and rear cross traffic alert are options on the high-end models and all but entry-level Icon have traction control fitted.
The Yaris Cross has not yet been crash-tested for a Euro NCAP safety rating, but the Yaris was awarded a maximum five stars.
An immobiliser and alarm are fitted as standard for added security.
The Yaris Cross draws on all the aggressive styling from the RAV4 and perfectly blends it with the Yaris DNA to produce a compact SUV that is big on space and great to drive.