Toyota Yaris Cross review: small hybrid SUV with outstanding fuel economy
Offering more space than its supermini sibling, the Toyota Yaris Cross is an efficient and well-equipped small SUV
Based on the Toyota Yaris, the Toyota Yaris Cross delivers where it matters most for buyers considering an inexpensive to run SUV. Of course, there’s the benefit of the higher driving position and slightly more practicality than the supermini upon which it is based, but the Yaris Cross is also competitively priced compared to its rivals, is easy to pilot around town and offers excellent real-world economy courtesy of its efficient hybrid system.
Yes, it feels like Toyota’s bean counters have had the last word in certain areas of the cabin, and some of its rivals are better for rear space. However, it’s a good-looking little car offering a generous level of standard kit, while buyers on a budget needn’t worry because overall running costs should be pretty low.
Our choice: Toyota Yaris Cross 1.5 Hybrid Design
About the Toyota Yaris Cross
Toyota has a long and storied history of producing reliable, go-anywhere 4x4s and large SUVs like the Land Cruiser and RAV4, but that’s not where the big money is right now. Instead, it’s in small SUVs, and if you don't believe us, consider that the Ford Puma is one of the best-selling cars in the UK.
The Toyota Yaris Cross is the Japanese manufacturer's entry into the already jam-packed small SUV segment. As the name suggests, it’s based on the regular Yaris supermini, slotting below the larger C-HR crossover in Toyota’s line-up.
It also uses the same 'self-charging hybrid' powertrain as the little Yaris, which is at its best when driving in and around town, on shorter, urban commutes or competing in the hustle and bustle typical of the daily school run.
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The Yaris Cross isn’t the only small SUV to feature hybrid technology, with rivals like the Hyundai Kona, Honda HR-V, Kia Niro, and Nissan Juke offering similar systems. There’s even a plug-in hybrid option in the form of the Renault Captur, which will allow you to travel for longer using electricity alone. You can, of course, get a number of all-electric alternatives like the Citroen e-C4, DS3 E-Tense, Peugeot E-2008, Hyundai Kona Electric, Jeep Avenger, Kia Niro EV, and Vauxhall Mokka Electric.
However, those all-electric alternatives cost considerably more than the Yaris Cross, plus some people don’t have the benefit of being able to install a charger where they live, which is why a full-hybrid is a fine halfway-house choice. Such a system can drive the car for short distances under electric power alone, but doesn't get electricity from a plug socket. Instead, energy is recuperated during braking, or when the engine doesn’t need to provide all its power to the wheels to drive the car.
It’s an efficient way of getting about, but some find the driving experience to be a little lacking in the fun department because you can’t have such a car with a manual gearbox. That’s where mild-hybrid technology, as used by the Puma mentioned above, comes in. Fuel economy improves slightly over a traditional petrol car because there’s a tiny electric motor that boosts the engine when accelerating, thus meaning it isn’t working so hard. However, because it can’t drive under electric power alone with the engine switched off, it can’t match the impressive fuel economy the Yaris Cross offers.
Buyers have a simple choice when it comes to the running gear for the Yaris Cross; every model has a 1.5-litre, three-cylinder petrol engine under the bonnet, paired with one electric motor in front-wheel drive guise and another on the rear axle if you upgrade to all-wheel drive/AWD-i. Either way, the Yaris Cross produces 114bhp and takes over 11 seconds to get from 0-62mph. A CVT automatic transmission is standard throughout the range, with no manual gearbox available.
The entry-level Icon trim provides a decent level of kit, including 16-inch alloy wheels, adaptive cruise control, a reversing camera, Apple CarPlay, Android Auto and automatic air conditioning. Design, Excel and GR Sport specifications comprise the rest of the range, with Toyota expecting the Design specification to be the most popular.
Toyota Yaris Cross Design: long-term test
Back in 2022, our then news and reviews editor, James Brodie, enjoyed six months of highly economical motoring in a mid-range Toyota Yaris Cross Design. It did everything expected of it and didn’t throw up any surprises in several thousand miles of motoring.
That being said, James didn’t find it to be the most interesting of small SUVs out there, and he wasn’t all that impressed with rear seat accommodation, which could, he thought, be a bit of a problem for families.
For an alternative guide to the Toyota Yaris Cross, visit our sister site DrivingElectric.com...
In this review
- 1Verdict - currently readingOffering more space than its supermini sibling, the Toyota Yaris Cross is an efficient and well-equipped small SUV
- 2Engines, performance and driveIt’s a case of hybrid efficiency over driving fun with the Toyota Yaris Cross
- 3MPG, CO2 and running costsImpressive fuel economy, low insurance rates and decent residuals mean the Toyota Yaris Cross should appeal to cost-conscious family buyers
- 4Interior, design and technologyThe Toyota Yaris Cross offers good levels of standard kit, but the cabin feels a little cheap in places
- 5Practicality, comfort and boot spaceAlthough the Toyota Yaris Cross offers more space than the regular Yaris supermini, other small SUV rivals are more practical
- 6Reliability and safetyExcellent safety kit, comprehensive warranty cover and positive Driver Power feedback should give Toyota Yaris Cross buyers confidence