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Driven: 2022 Toyota Yaris Cross. Image by Toyota.

Driven: 2022 Toyota Yaris Cross
Can Toyotaís little hybrid SUV cut the mustard when compared with more established compact models?


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2022 Toyota Yaris Cross

3.5 3.5 3.5 3.5 3.5

Toyota's new Yaris Cross has its work cut out. The compact SUV market is hugely competitive, with pretty much every major manufacturer offering something in this class, and this is Toyota's offering. Based on the same platform as the compact Yaris hatchback, the Yaris Cross aims to differentiate itself with a hybrid powertrain and optional all-wheel-drive system, but can it compete with its more established rivals?

Test Car Specifications

Model: 2023 Toyota Yaris Cross Excel AWD
Price: Yaris Cross from £24,480, Excel from £29,105, Excel AWD from £31,465
Engine: 1.5-litre three-cylinder petrol with hybrid system
Transmission: e-CVT, all-wheel drive
Battery: 0.76kWh
Power: 116hp
Torque: 141Nm (front electric motor only)
Emissions: 115-116g/km
Fuel Economy: 55.2-55.4mpg
0-62mph: 11.8 seconds
Top speed: 106mph
Boot space: 320 litres


The Yaris Cross might be based on the Yaris hatchback, but it looks suitably different. More upright, chunkier and altogether more rugged, it feels something like a more modern version of the original RAV4. Admittedly, it isnít the prettiest car on the road, but thereís something charming about its bluff nose and plastic body cladding that gives it a little bit of character without sacrificing any class Ė particularly as itís available with the all-wheel-drive system to back up its rugged-looking bodywork.


It's easy to forget that a £30,000 SUV is still really a compact car underneath, but Toyota has tried to jazz the Yaris Cross up a bit. You get a touchscreen infotainment system and a digital instrument cluster as standard, while the dashboard also comes with quite a rounded design, some of which is nabbed directly from the Yaris Hybrid. Styling isn't the issue here, but quality might be a sticking point for some customers, who will encounter some hard and scratchy plastics in places. That's common in small hatchbacks, but it's less forgivable in a £30,000 SUV. That said, £30,000 doesn't buy you all that much these days, and here's the proof.

Fortunately, being a Toyota, the Yaris Cross does at least feel solidly constructed. The materials might not be ideal, but they are all well engineered and nicely fitted together, with the noticeable exception of the heated seat switches, which feel a little too 1990s for our liking.

Customers might also be struck by the slightly last-gen feel of the infotainment technology, too. It's more or less lifted from the higher-end Yaris hatchback models, and while it does the job well enough, it isn't what you'd call modern. The graphics are blocky, and it has an annoying tendency to beep when you press the volume button on the steering wheel, which is somewhat grating. Nevertheless, with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto you can at least circumvent the proprietary system to a point.


space is still at a premium. That said, the Yaris Cross is far from the most cramped car in its class, with adequate space for adults in the back, although access through the tight rear door apertures is a bit of a bind. Once you're in, head- and legroom are sufficient, but taller passengers might be a little cramped.

Boot space depends somewhat on which version of the Yaris Cross you choose, and basic versions have a very competitive 397-litre luggage bay, which puts them roughly on a par with the Seat Arona. Opt for the all-wheel-drive version tested here, though, and that boot space falls noticeably to a slightly less impressive 320 litres.


With just 116hp from its 1.5-litre petrol hybrid propulsion system, the Yaris Cross is not what you'd call fast. For this all-wheel-drive version, the 0-62mph lope (we can't really call it a sprint) takes just under 12 seconds, and the front-wheel-drive version is only a little faster. But economy is the name of the game for this little SUV, and the promise of more than 55mpg on the official economy test will appeal to plenty of customers. As will the relatively low CO2 emissions. Happily, there's little difference in economy between front- and all-wheel-drive examples.

Better still, the Yaris Cross' 1.5-litre hybrid system even sounds pretty good, with its three-cylinder engine providing a more agreeable than some four-cylinder alternatives. That said, it still gets quite loud in there, with a sense that the sound is reverberating through the rear part of the cabin. There's quite a bit of road and wind noise at motorway speeds, too.

Ride & Handling

Although we donít really expect compact SUVs to drive that brilliantly Ė theyíre often compromised by their height Ė the Yaris Cross is at least very pleasant to gad about in. The steering is fairly light, and though the e-CVT isnít perfect, it does at least make the Toyota easy to drive. And the regenerative braking system means you can, with a little forward planning, avoid touching the brake much of the time.

More surprisingly, though, the Yaris Cross isnít too bad in corners. Body roll is quite well limited and thereís a sense of lightness and manoeuvrability that isnít necessarily expected in a hybrid SUV. Itís no hot hatchback, but the Yaris Cross does seem to have inherited some of the Yarisí joie de vivre.

But despite that, itís more comfortable than the Yaris. Donít get us wrong, the Yaris Cross doesnít ride perfectly, and over some imperfections itís actually quite stiff, but the suspension is relatively soft, so speed bumps and other more rounded obstacles are soaked up really well. Yet sharper bumps, such as the jagged edges of potholes and manhole covers, seem to be too quick for the suspension to sort itself out, and they send shudders through the carís architecture.

On a happier note, there is plenty of off-road capability, thanks in no small part to the all-wheel-drive system that uses an electric motor on the rear axle. Although that eats into boot space, it does mean the car can back up its ride height and those chunkier bumpers with some all-wheel traction, while thereís also a clever traction control system for various types of terrain and even hill descent control.


Yaris Cross prices start at £24,480, which pays for the basic Icon version, which is only available in front-wheel-drive form. That car comes with a reversing camera, automatic climate control and an eight-inch touchscreen, which will be enough for most customers, but there are more upmarket models for those who want them. Upgrading to the Design version gets goodies including a digital instrument display, while the Excel we tested came with two-zone climate control, front and rear parking sensors and some extra safety tech. It's also the cheapest model offered with all-wheel drive.


Although the Yaris Cross isnít perfect, itís a wholly competent SUV and a charming addition to the small SUV market. Toyotaís hybrid know-how is used to great effect Ė particularly in all-wheel-drive versions Ė and thereís something joyous about the way the car drives. The promise of Toyota reliability only adds to its range of attributes, but the real appeal comes from the carís bustling, rumbunctious character, which gives it a bit of much-needed personality.

James Fossdyke - 23 Mar 2023    - Toyota road tests
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- Yaris Cross images

2022 Toyota Yaris Cross. Image by Toyota.2022 Toyota Yaris Cross. Image by Toyota.2022 Toyota Yaris Cross. Image by Toyota.2022 Toyota Yaris Cross. Image by Toyota.2022 Toyota Yaris Cross. Image by Toyota.

2022 Toyota Yaris Cross. Image by Toyota.2022 Toyota Yaris Cross. Image by Toyota.2022 Toyota Yaris Cross. Image by Toyota.2022 Toyota Yaris Cross. Image by Toyota.


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