Toyota Yaris Cross
Every disadvantage has its advantage
When Toyota designed the fourth generation of the Yaris, a compact SUV was immediately planned. After all, SUVs are wildly popular and Toyota did not yet offer one in the compact segment. The Yaris hatchback and SUV share the platform, technology and style. However, the hatchback is low while the Cross is built in height. Yet the Cross is more than just tall. To maintain design harmony, the Cross has large wheels and accents that emphasise its width. As a hint to Toyota's other SUVs, the Yaris Cross has the same thick-set wheel arches as the RAV4.
Thanks to all the modifications, the Cross has 25 mm more ground clearance than the Yaris hatchback. For many, however, entry and seat height will be much more important. Therefore, the front seats are additionally height-adjustable to achieve a 65 mm higher seat overall. Despite the high seat, ample headroom is available. Rear space is average for a car of this size. That is, adults fit in the back, but they have little room to move around.
To ensure that the Yaris Cross lends itself to hobby and leisure, Toyota has paid extra attention to the boot. The rear seats fold down into three (!) parts, the floor of the boot can be adjusted into two parts and the parcel shelf is foldable. In addition, it is possible to divide the boot into compartments and/or secure items with flexible straps. Very chic: optionally, the Yaris Cross can be fitted with an electric tailgate that opens with a foot movement under the rear bumper.
The Yaris Cross is the first Toyota to feature Toyota's new infotainment system called "Smart Connect". The main novelty is that this integrated audio, communication and sat nav system has internet connectivity. With it, routes can be adjusted according to current traffic information and the system can help find a free parking spot. After finding a parking space, payment can be made automatically. After driving away, payment stops automatically. The system can be updated via the internet connection, so it is no longer necessary to visit the dealer for adjustments.
Unfortunately, the first generation of Smart Connect is not free of bugs. It works sluggishly at times, raising questions about whether the hardware is fast enough for the promised future expansions. The English voice is jolly as if it has sniffed digital helium. Toyota has since taken this criticism to heart and promises to address it in the first software update.
Smart Connect cannot be operated by voice commands. When the "voice" button on the steering wheel is pressed, it is only to activate a smart assistant on a connected smartphone (Apple CarPlay / Android Auto). The optional JBL audio system sounds particularly good for a car in this price range. The sound is full and clear, but not sufficiently detailed to give it the "hi-fi" label.
In terms of safety, the Yaris Cross provides all the features that can be expected from a modern car, and sometimes even more! For example, "matrix headlights" are available that can adjust the length and width of the beam according to speed and environment. Moreover, part of the beam can be temporarily dimmed to avoid blinding oncoming traffic while the high beam remains on. A unique feature is the central airbag. Located between the front seats, it prevents passengers from hitting each other in an accident.
In the introduction of this report, it was mentioned that many appreciate the image of an off-road vehicle, but do not need the technology that can actually be driven off-road. This is why most SUVs have two-wheel drive and engines optimised for use on public roads (i.e. no four-wheel drive or technology that continues to function at extreme angles). Despite this, an SUV remains big and tall, and that makes for higher consumption. To reduce consumption, most large SUVs are now available with hybrid drive. Toyota now also provides this technology in a compact SUV.
Under the bonnet of the Yaris (Cross) is a 1.5-litre engine that operates on the so-called Atkinson cycle. This makes the engine unwilling and slow, but very economical. To provide the necessary liveliness, an electric motor assists. The Yaris can cover a short distance (+/- 2 km) entirely electrically. In most cases, the petrol and electric engine work together for more agility and better performance.
Compared to Toyota's previous generation of hybrid engines, this generation runs at even lower revs for even lower consumption. However, this results in a raucous noise at low revs and a sudden increase in noise at higher speeds. The indirect feel in the throttle that Toyota hybrids had in the past is definitely a thing of the past; the Yaris Cross responds smoothly and directly to the driver's right foot.
Because the battery is relatively small, there is no need to charge it with a plug. The energy recovered during braking and coasting is sufficient. Another improvement over Toyota's previous hybrid: charging is now faster. Even when braking late at a traffic light, for example, more energy can therefore be recovered.
For the test, it was driven on a route where the hybrid drive is at its best, namely in the city and on inner roads. Moreover, the test drive took place under favourable weather conditions. Under those ideal conditions, consumption came to 3.8 litres per 100 km after a day of driving, which is an excellent score for a car like this.
Still, there is a criticism: Toyota claims that the on-board computer's indicator shows what part of the journey was driven electrically. However, this gauge only indicates how long the petrol engine has been switched off. When the Yaris Cross simply waits at a traffic light with the petrol engine switched off, this is also considered "electric driving", which is misleading.
While the Yaris and Yaris Cross are on the same platform, necessary modifications have been made for the SUV. This is because the higher build means a higher centre of gravity, which has a negative impact on handling. The main modification consists of a firmer (+29%) mounting of the suspension.
The result is remarkable, as the Yaris Cross has the same confidence-inspiring handling as the lower hatchback. Moreover, this small SUV does not feel heavy and, despite its tall build, the car does not lean over when cornering. Therefore, the Yaris Cross does not have the distinctive driving characteristics of an SUV, but those of a dynamic hatchback. But whether that is a disadvantage?
Toyota introduces its first compact SUV and sets itself apart from the competition by drawing on the brand's strengths. That starts with typical Japanese design that fuses engineering and organic forms. The Yaris Cross is built in height, but thanks to well-chosen accents (large wheels, upright wide beams), the design remains harmonious. Given the exterior dimensions, interior space is good. Luggage space is a strong point here, as various ergonomic touches make the Yaris Cross more practical than an average car.
The equipment is modern and complete. As the Yaris Cross has internet connectivity, functionality can be expanded in the future and the car stays up to date. The hybrid powertrain makes the Yaris smooth yet economical, although not as quiet as expected. Its strongest point is its handling. Despite its tall build, the Yaris Cross has the dynamic and confident handling of a lower car. An SUV feel is therefore missing. But every disadvantage has its advantage and that certainly applies in this case!
- Excellent handling
- Quick and economical
- Large and dividable luggage compartment
- Unpleasant voice sat nav
- Raucous noise petrol engine
- Infotainment system sometimes slow to respond to commands