Toyota Yaris Cross long-term test: report 1

The Toyota Yaris Cross is the most efficient car we've ever tested, but now our car reviewer is finding out if there's more to this small SUV than just thrifty motoring...

Toyota Yaris Cross front cornering

The car Toyota Yaris Cross Design Run by Max Adams, reviewer

Why it’s here To provide ULEZ-busting travel, save money on running costs, find out if hybrid power is a viable option for someone who can't charge their car at home

Needs to Prove that it is as efficient as our True MPG test promises it to be, and be as trouble-free as Toyota’s reputation suggests

Mileage 534 List price £26,530 Target price £25,187 Price as tested £27,450 Test economy 55.7mpg Official economy 62.7mpg Options fitted Platinum White Pearl metallic paint (£920)

16 March 2023 – Out with the old and in with the new

Anyone based around London will know about the impending Ultra Low Emissions Zone (ULEZ) expansion arriving on 29 August. Unfortunately, it means I’ll no longer be able to use my car of the last nine years, an old Volvo, because its unfiltered diesel exhaust will no longer have free rein in Twickenham, where the What Car? office is based. I, therefore, along with many others, have had to find a new car.

Its replacement is my new Toyota Yaris Cross – which will receive a much warmer reception from the local authorities. Okay, it's not an electric car like my colleague Jim Holder’s Renault Megane E-Tech but I’d struggle to make an electric model work because I have no access to home charging.

Toyota Yaris Cross Hybrid Badge

A hybrid car stood out as a more viable alternative because it gives me some of the electric car benefits, while losing none of the convenience I’ve grown used to, all wrapped up in a package that promises to offer diesel-like economy. And on that front, my Yaris Cross should be a winner. It holds the position as the most efficient car we’ve ever put through our True MPG test.

I’m looking forward to the potential savings I’ll make, and see if I can match the 60.1mpg figure from our independent results. Filling it up so far has certainly been less painful. That's partly thanks to petrol costing considerably less than diesel, but it's mainly due to the Yaris Cross having a small 36-litre fuel tank rather than the 70-litre one fitted to my old car (which pushed the price of a full tank into three digits). 

Whether or not that’ll prove to be a hindrance on longer trips remains to be seen, but at the moment, the Yaris Cross is proving to be highly adept at trundling around town.

The steering is light and easy to use, especially in multi-storey car parks, while the well-calibrated brakes have no obvious dead spot when switching from regeneration mode to the car's mechanical brakes, so driving in stop/start traffic is smooth. It’s not as fun a driving experience as a Ford Puma can be, but it's pleasant enough as far as small SUVs go, and on the whole, relaxing.

Toyota Yaris Cross with Max Adams driving

Its slightly raised driving position makes it feel more like a larger SUV than, say, a Skoda Kamiq, and it’s a nice touch that you can see the bonnet line from behind the wheel, putting you in mind that you’re driving something tougher than the Toyota Yaris small car it's based on.

You get the same 1.5-litre petrol engine and electric motor combination as in the regular Yaris, but the Yaris Cross gets a slightly larger battery pack to back it up (1.5kWh vs 0.7kWh), so in theory, I should be able to trundle along in its electric-only mode for longer.

Power remains the same at 114bhp, but because the Yaris Cross is heavier, it takes 11.2sec to get from 0-62mph. Obviously, that’s not quick, but to be honest, in everyday driving, I’ve found the instant response of the electric motor more than enough to keep up with traffic, and once up to speed on the motorway, it cruises well. Only steep inclines on the M25 cause me to have to put my foot down hard.

I’ve chosen Design trim above our recommended Icon because I’m so used to the exceptionally comfortable driving position with my old Volvo S80, and Design trim upwards adds electric lumbar support adjustment. I also live in the sticks where animals sometimes run out into the road, so I’m hoping Design’s brighter LED headlights will help me to spot potential danger sooner.

Toyota Yaris Cross front

I have foregone the Tech Pack option with its larger 9in infotainment screen, opting to stick with the standard 7in system, which retains physical shortcut buttons around the perimeter of the screen to make switching between menus easier on the move. I did splash out on a rather nice 'pearl white' paint job, though, which makes my Yaris Cross look a little like a Stormtrooper’s helmet.  

So, I’ve established that my bank balance is considerably happier with my purchase and I’ll no longer get derogatory comments from colleagues who thought my old car stank (literally). But will my Yaris Cross prove to be practical and comfortable enough compared with what I’ve just given up? Let’s find out.

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