UK Drive: Is Toyota’s Yaris Cross the best crossover for getting around town?
The Yaris Cross aims to build on the popularity of the standard Yaris by moving it into the hotly contested crossover segment.
What is it?
Underneath, the Yaris Cross is essentially the same as the standard Yaris. However, with crossover sales now dominating sales figures, the Japanese brand has decided to beef up the humble hatchback in order to get an extra slice of a particularly lucrative pie.
Despite being higher and wider than the standard Yaris, the Cross is still smaller than the popular RAV-4 and is therefore the smallest high-riding model currently on offer from Toyota. To find out whether the Cross is worth buying, we ran one for a week. This is what we found…
Honestly? Not a huge amount. The Cross shares most mechanical components with the standard Yaris, the current edition of which was released back in 2020, and the interior is pretty similar to the hatchback as well. Where the SUV does differ from its stablemate is size. The body panels have been redesigned to achieve a beefier look, which is helped by new black skirts which help give the cross a much more rugged, off-road appearance.
Unsurprisingly, there is also a new higher driving position which allows for a good view of the road ahead and inspires more conference behind the wheel.
What’s under the bonnet?
The Yaris Cross is only available with one choice of engine – a 1.5-litre, three-cylinder unit that has been paired with a 0.8 kWh battery to create a mild hybrid powertrain with 114bhp. The setup gives the Cross a top speed of 104mph and 0-62 time of 11.2 seconds, roughly the same as an entry-level Ford Puma.
Efficiency-wise, Toyota claims that you should be able to see up to 62mpg while CO2 emissions stand at between 112 and 117g/km, depending on wheel size.
What’s it like to drive?
Around town, the Yaris Cross is a very good car to drive. It enjoys fantastic grip and is surprisingly agile for a car of its size. The lightweight steering feels responsive, which allows you to dart through traffic better than you’d expect in an SUV. On the motorway, the drive continues to be relatively smooth and soft suspension means most bumps are dealt with comfortably.
The one big drawback of the drive comes when travelling at higher speeds when engine, tyre and wind noise become a real issue. During one long drive from the south coast to Merseyside, we were forced to abandon the radio in favour of headphones as I was struggling to hear what was being said over the racket. Also, while the ride is comfortable and soft, the seats are quite firm and as a result, backache does start to kick in slightly on long journeys – though this is more of a personal issue, so make sure you thoroughly test a Yaris if you’re considering one.
What does it look like?
The Yaris Cross shares a similar look to the hatchback albeit longer, taller and wider. It has striking black skirts that add to its crossover credentials – although a large black bumper at the rear is something of an eyesore, in our opinion. Also at the back is an eye-catching light design that stretches across the tailgate and looks great.
The model is available with both 16 and 18-inch alloy wheels, the larger of which look absolutely superb. There are also subtle, yet stylish, roof bars which come as standard on all but the entry-level car. At the front end, our car came with daytime running lights which added an extra dimension to an otherwise fairly conservative design.
What’s it like inside?
Inside, the Cross again shares most of its parts with the normal Yaris, which is certainly not a criticism. The first thing you notice upon getting in the car is the high driving position which gives fantastic visibility out onto the road. This is also helped by thin windscreen pillars.
In terms of materials, the Yaris Cross does lack the upmarket feel of some of its competitors but is definitely not unpleasant. There are a number of squidgy surfaces including the dashboard, gear stick and steering wheel, although the cheap plastics on the doors do let the Yaris Cross down slightly.
There is a digital display behind the steering wheel for the driver, and in the middle of the cockpit an eight-inch infotainment screen – although a nine-inch version is available on more expensive Excel and GR Sport models. The system itself is slightly basic and does lag a fair bit but does include both Apple CarPlay and Android Auto.
What’s the spec like?
The Yaris Cross is available in four different trim levels ranging from the basic Icon range, which starts at £21,840, all the way up to the GR Sport model, which has a starting price of £29,460. The car we tested came from the Design spec level, which sits one above the Icon and costs £26,530.
All models come with the same 1.5-litre engine and electric motor but more expensive versions throw in the option of upgraded equipment and technology. Overall our middle-of-the-range Design model felt like a good spot to be in the line-up and offered fair value for money.
Overall the Yaris Cross offers good value for money and is a decent entrant into the crowded crossover market. It looks good, is mostly comfortable and by and large is a decent car to drive. There are one or two faults, which largely come at higher speeds, but around town, it really is an excellent choice.
Light steering, good fuel economy and a decent interior make the Cross one of the best cars in its class and as crossovers continue to be all the rage, you can imagine that they’ll not stay in showrooms for long.