Following other manufacturers, Toyota is looking to revive interest in the declining Yaris brand by launching an SUV model of one of its best-known models.
The Toyota Yaris Cross is a small SUV that looks way more stylish than any other Yaris to date. They’ve usually been as exciting as a new pair of socks.
The Urban Cruiser, Toyota’s last foray into the small SUV market, was discontinued in 2012 after only three years on the market. But the manufacturer has repeatedly demonstrated its automotive foresight.
As with other Toyota vehicles, the Yaris Cross comes with the manufacturer’s flagship hybrid drivetrain that allows for both fuel and electric operation.
Toyota Says No Yaris Cross in U.S.
The small crossover launched in Japan last fall and will be available in Europe mid-2021. The Yaris Cross is not expected to be sold in the United States, according to Toyota.
The 1.5-liter, 3-cylinder Atkinson engine works with an electric motor to deliver 116 horsepower and with an output of just 135g of CO2 p/km at the highest all-wheel-drive level. The output is 125g of CO2 p/km with the front-wheel-drive model.
The AWD system operates via an intelligent system that kicks in any time it senses a loss of grip at the front axle. It makes this i-AWD version the better choice over the front-wheel-drive model which might feel like a basic Yaris with an SUV body.
While this doesn’t compare to a full-sized 4×4 titan SUVs like the Range Rover, the technology would certainly be a help when extra performance is required in rural suburban areas or uneven town centers.
Standard safety features on the Yaris Cross are impressive, some available only as optional offerings of manufacturers. Anti-lock braking, Vehicle Stability Control and Hill-Start Assist are standard as are Pre-Collision and Automatic High Beams.
The new model is more stylish, although not too futuristic-looking. The Yaris technology features are surprisingly state of the art and include Sonar Braking, Android Auto and multimedia screens that can be upgraded to a larger size with more expensive models.
While perhaps also considering ways to finance a car, like sportier and sleeker fourth-generation Yaris, Toyota has also been busy designing its new SUV model. The new Cross offers features that SUV buyers want, but it also maintains the character of the traditional Yaris.
Toyota prioritizes its vehicles’ low emissions, particularly considering the Prius lineup. The Yaris Cross needs to remain just as economical while offering a new SUV driving experience. Marketed as an “Urban SUV”, the Yaris Cross features a higher and sturdier stance than a traditional hatchback but retains the economical and reliable drive system.
The Cross retains the recognizable aesthetic of the standard Yaris but with SUV stylings. The bulky and muscular bodywork appearance is similar to the Kia Sportage. It’s clear Toyota has chosen a theme and its commitment to it. The Yaris Cross is marketed as and looks likes the Yaris subcompact, just in an SUV form. And it’s all good for about $29,000.
Article Last Updated: March 16, 2021.
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A sports, travel and business journalist for more than 45 years, James has written the new car review column The Weekly Driver since 2004.
In addition to this site, James writes a Sunday automotive column for The San Jose Mercury and East Bay Times in Walnut Creek, Calif., and a monthly auto review column for Gulfshore Business, a magazine in Southwest Florida.
An author and contributor to many newspapers, magazines and online publications, James has co-hosted The Weekly Driver Podcast since 2017.