Toyota Yaris Cross GX Hybrid 2021 road test review

A parked silver Yaris Cross

Tim Nicholson

Posted August 11, 2021


Tim Nicholson samples Toyota's latest SUV offering, the Yaris Cross.

Toyota’s C-HR crossover has been a solid seller since its debut a couple of years back, but if you find the bold design a little too daring, the Corolla Cross that’s coming in 2022 might be more your cup of tea. Another recent addition to Toyota’s compact SUV lineup is the Yaris Cross, based on the popular Yaris light hatchback. It’s the latest offering in the burgeoning light SUV segment, and it’s the only model available with a hybrid powertrain. Does that give the Yaris Cross the advantage over its rivals?

Thumbs up

Standard safety equipment, cabin storage, ride and handling, hybrid fuel efficiency, Toyota reliability.

Thumbs down

Noisy engine/transmission when pushed, fussy interior design, uncouth transition from electric to petrol power.

Rear view of a parked silver Yaris Cross

The Yaris Cross has a more upright, boxy look than the perky Yaris light hatchback.


How much does a Toyota Yaris Cross cost? 

The Yaris Cross is available in three model grades – GX, GXL and Urban. Each is offered in two-wheel drive petrol, two-wheel-drive hybrid or all-wheel drive hybrid guise. Pricing ranges from $26,990 to $37,990 before on-road costs. We sampled the GX 2WD hybrid that’s priced at $28,990.

This pricing is generally competitive against the other contenders in the segment. It’s more affordable than the likes of the Ford Puma and slightly pricier than the Hyundai Venue and Kia Stonic.

Like the Stonic we recently tested, the standard features list for the base GX is about right for this end of the market, without being particularly generous. Although Toyota has included a strong standard safety list.

 


What safety features does it have? 

The Yaris Cross is yet to be tested by ANCAP. As with many recently launched Toyota models, it comes with a generous level of standard safety gear with a big focus on driver-assist technology. As well as autonomous emergency braking with pedestrian and cyclist detection, it has a well-calibrated lane keep assist system with lane centring function, speed sign recognition and adaptive cruise control. If you want a blind spot monitor or rear cross-traffic alert, you have to step up to the GXL.

 


What's the space like inside?

While the Yaris Cross is mechanically related to the Yaris hatch, they are differentiated by their exterior design. There’s a clear family resemblance, but the Yaris Cross is upright and boxy next to the cute, perky Yaris hatch.

Inside, the two are hard to separate, although there are subtle differences between the instruments and centre console.

The Yaris Cross has a fussy dash layout with contrasting angles and no natural flow. The digital speedo and other gauges in the cluster look a bit low rent, and some icons in the display, such as the drive mode indicator, are tiny and difficult to read.

The internal door handles are almost hidden in a weird chunky housing in the door insert, and there’s plenty of cheap plastics, in case you needed a reminder that it’s the base variant.

On the plus side, there’s a clever mirror housed underneath the exterior mirrors that gives the driver a view of the road to avoid scraping wheels on the gutter when parking. There are loads of handy storage nooks and heaps of room for large bottles in the doors, but a tiny central storage bin.

The 7.0-inch multimedia screen looks tacked on to the centre stack, and Toyota’s infotainment setup is functional but lacks the ease of use and modern graphics of rivals, including Mazda, Hyundai, Kia, Volkswagen and Skoda. The Apple CarPlay in our test vehicle was glitchy, especially when using Google Maps.

While the cloth seats are a bit flat, there’s decent lateral support, and they are well cushioned. The thick b-pillar creates a blind spot behind your shoulder, but overall rearward visibility is good.

Rear seat legroom is above average for this type of car, while headroom is adequate. There’s good bottle storage in the rear doors but no air vents for rear passengers. The 40/20/40 split-fold seats have a central armrest with cupholders.

The 390-litre boot is decent for the segment and can swallow more than the Kia Stonic (352L), but not as much as the huge boot in the Nissan Juke (422L). It has a space-saver spare wheel under the boot floor.

 

Front interior of a Yaris Cross

The interior design of the Yaris Cross is a little fussy, but there are plenty of storage options. 


How does it drive?

As with a number of other light SUVs we’ve sampled in the past year, the Yaris Cross is a genuinely fun car to steer. Driving the twisty roads of the Dandenong Ranges revealed a nicely balanced chassis that keeps the car flat when cornering, highlighting a focus on dynamism without compromising on ride comfort. The comfortable ride is evident in performing daily duties in urban areas, but the Yaris Cross maintains composure on average roads. The only thing that upset it was a particularly nasty railway crossing.

Sharp steering turn-in is aided by the lightweight feel, but it still retains a connection to the road.

The hybrid powertrain is great for saving fuel but lacks the responsiveness of rivals like the Volkswagen T-Cross/Skoda Kamiq twins, Kia Stonic GT-Line and the Ford Puma. Acceleration is adequate from a standing start, but it’s livelier when you’re already up and running.

The transition from electric to petrol propulsion is clunky and lacks the finesse of larger Toyota hybrid models such as the Camry and RAV4. It’s a noisy, revvy powertrain when pushed hard, especially with the drone from the continuously variable transmission. Better cabin insulation would help keep some of this noise out.

We couldn’t quite match Toyota’s fuel use figure of 3.8 litres per 100 kilometres, but we weren’t far off with 4.4L/100km. It’s unquestionably the most fuel-efficient light SUV on the market.

 


The verdict

The Yaris Cross has a few advantages over its rivals. It has that unbeatable Toyota reputation for quality and reliability, and it’s the only hybrid in the segment. Those savings at the bowser undoubtedly have a positive long-term impact. It’s not as sexy and stylish as some others in the light SUV brigade, but it’s safe, honest motoring that’s much more fun than you’d think. 

Toyota Yaris Cross GX Hybrid 2021

Pricing

List price: $28,990 before on-road costs.

Price as tested: $28,990 before on-road costs.

Model range: $26,990 to 37,990 before on-road costs.

Drivetrain

1.5-litre three-cylinder petrol-electric hybrid, continuously variable transmission, front-wheel drive.

Power: 85kW (combined).

Torque: 120Nm (engine), 141Nm (electric motor).

Wheels: 205/65 R16.

Fuel

91 RON ULP, 36-litre tank. 

Consumption: 3.8/100km (government test), 4.4L/100km (RACV test).

Emissions: 86g/km CO2 emissions..

Standard safety

Autonomous emergency braking with pedestrian (day/night) and cyclist detection (day), adaptive cruise control, lane keep assist with lane centring function, traffic sign recognition, eight airbags, reversing camera, auto high beam. 

Standard features

Keyless entry and start, single-zone climate control, digital instrument cluster, 7.0-inch touchscreen with digital radio, Apple CarPlay/Android Auto, Bluetooth and voice recognition, six-speaker audio, fabric seats, electronic park brake.

Warranty

Five-year/unlimited kilometre warranty. Ten-year hybrid battery warranty. Five years of capped price servicing. Servicing schedule every 12 months or 15,000km.

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