Toyota Yaris Cross review

Category: Small SUV

The Yaris Cross is a super-efficient small SUV that's enjoyable to drive

Toyota Yaris Cross front cornering
  • Toyota Yaris Cross front cornering
  • Toyota Yaris Cross rear right cornering
  • Toyota Yaris Cross interior dashboard
  • Toyota Yaris Cross interior back seats
  • Toyota Yaris Cross interior infotainment
  • Toyota Yaris Cross right driving
  • Toyota Yaris Cross front cornering
  • Toyota Yaris Cross left tracking
  • Toyota Yaris Cross overhead right driving
  • Toyota Yaris Cross headlights detail
  • Toyota Yaris Cross alloy wheel detail
  • Toyota Yaris Cross badge detail
  • Toyota Yaris Cross interior front seats
  • Toyota Yaris Cross interior steering wheel detail
  • Toyota Yaris Cross interior detail
  • Toyota Yaris Cross interior detail
  • Toyota Yaris Cross boot open
  • Toyota Yaris Cross front cornering
  • Toyota Yaris Cross rear right cornering
  • Toyota Yaris Cross interior dashboard
  • Toyota Yaris Cross interior back seats
  • Toyota Yaris Cross interior infotainment
  • Toyota Yaris Cross right driving
  • Toyota Yaris Cross front cornering
  • Toyota Yaris Cross left tracking
  • Toyota Yaris Cross overhead right driving
  • Toyota Yaris Cross headlights detail
  • Toyota Yaris Cross alloy wheel detail
  • Toyota Yaris Cross badge detail
  • Toyota Yaris Cross interior front seats
  • Toyota Yaris Cross interior steering wheel detail
  • Toyota Yaris Cross interior detail
  • Toyota Yaris Cross interior detail
  • Toyota Yaris Cross boot open
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Introduction

What Car? says...

The Toyota Yaris Cross is a mix of two things the Japanese car maker does well – small hybrid cars and SUVs – so in theory it should be good.

At first glance, with its compact size, ability to run solely on electric power at low speeds and optional four-wheel drive, the Yaris Cross does indeed look as though it lives up to the ‘authentic urban adventurer’ tag that Toyota’s marketers have attributed to it.

It's longer and wider than the standard Toyota Yaris hatchback it’s based on. In fact, it's roughly the same size as the rival Nissan Juke and, like that model, offers the sort of raised driving position that's important to many potential SUV buyers.

There's plenty of competition in the small SUV category, of course. In addition to the Juke, rivals include the Ford Puma, the Skoda Kamiq and the VW T-Roc. There's now also the Lexus LBX – a premium hybrid SUV that's closely related to the Yaris Cross. 

So, does the Toyota Yaris Cross have what it takes to stand out among the best small SUVs? Read on to find out...

Overview

The Toyota Yaris Cross makes a strong case for itself against the crowd of small SUVs, especially if your top priorities are low running costs and reliability. The Ford Puma still looks like the better overall option, offering a more enjoyable driving experience and superior practicality, while the VW T-Roc is better for space and refinement.

  • Very efficient
  • Lofty driving position
  • Uncluttered dashboard is easy to use
  • Could be more spacious in the back seats
  • Vocal engine when accelerating
  • Not as fun to drive as the Ford Puma
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Toyota Yaris-cross 1.5 Hybrid Icon 5dr CVT review
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Performance & drive

What it’s like to drive, and how quiet it is

The Toyota Yaris Cross is available only as a hybrid car with one engine option: a 1.5-litre three-cylinder petrol that works with an electric motor to improve performance and efficiency.

It's not the quickest small SUV out there. We achieved a 0-60mph time of 10.0 seconds during our testing, matching the slower, entry-level engines fitted to the Ford Puma and Skoda Kamiq. That means it’s still brisker than the equivalent VW T-Roc and VW Taigo. When you start pressing on, the petrol engine accelerates up to motorway speeds without much bother.

The motor gives it plenty of shove off the line, and the Yaris Cross will run solely on electric power around town if you're gentle with the accelerator. That makes it quieter than its petrol-only rivals, and indeed easier on fuel.

When the petrol engine chimes in, the Yaris Cross gets a lot noisier. That’s down to the standard CVT automatic gearbox – it's responsive, but holds the revs near the redline if you’re accelerating or climbing a hill. A few engine vibrations reach the interior, but they're no worse than in rival cars.

Things settle down again once you're up to speed. There’s a noticeable amount of wind noise on the motorway around the windscreen and door mirrors, and a fair amount of road noise emanating from the tyres, but the Yaris Cross is still relatively hushed for a small SUV.

Toyota YARIS CROSS image
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The cars we’ve tried so far have been fitted with 17in alloy wheels, and we would expect the 16in wheels of entry-level Icon trim to generate slightly less road noise. If you’re looking for a quiet motorway cruiser, you should look at the T-Roc.

Most versions of the Yaris Cross are front-wheel drive, but Excel trim offers four-wheel drive. That’s rare in the small SUV category and makes the Yaris Cross more capable on muddy trails and slippery fields, although it's no Toyota Land Cruiser so don’t expect it to climb mountains. 

What about the ride? Well, the Yaris Cross is softer than most of its rivals, including the T-Roc and the Puma, meaning it’s never uncomfortable when dealing with bumps. If that is your priority, this and the Kamiq are close in terms of ride comfort.

The only slight disadvantage is that body control isn’t quite as good as with rivals. The Yaris Cross suffers from the most vertical body movement when driving over undulating roads, which could cause some occupants to feel momentarily uneasy.

Despite that, the Yaris Cross handles tidily enough in the bends. There’s enough grip available, and while there’s more body lean than in the Puma and T-Roc, it’s well controlled.

The light steering doesn’t give much sense of connection to the front wheels, but for a small SUV, the Yaris Cross is more than acceptable in everyday driving. The Puma continues to set the standard in this area, though, with higher levels of grip and a more engaging drive.

"I spend a lot of time on the motorway, and on those faster roads the Yaris Cross has a slightly fidgety ride and hihger noise levels than some rivals, making it a less relaxing long-distance companion.” – Darren Moss, Deputy Digital Editor

Driving overview

Strengths Comfortable ride; quiet around town; one of the few small SUVs that's available with four-wheel drive

Weaknesses Some wind and road noise on the motorway; steering could be more precise

Toyota Yaris Cross rear right cornering

Interior

The interior layout, fit and finish

If you’re a fan of the high driving position you get with many SUVs, you’ll be impressed by the Toyota Yaris Cross’s lofty feel. You sit higher up than you do in a Ford Puma or Skoda Kamiq.

You won’t struggle with forward visibility because that raised seating position is combined with slightly thinner windscreen pillars than its rivals.

Seeing out of the back is a different story because the rear pillars are quite a bit chunkier than the Kamiq's. Thankfully, every version comes with a rear-view camera, while Excel trim adds front and rear parking sensors.

Getting comfortable in the Yaris Cross is easy. All versions feature a good range of manual adjustment to the steering wheel and driver’s seat. The only demerit is that you don’t get adjustable lumbar support unless you go for mid-spec Design trim or higher.

The cheaper Icon and Design models both come with an 8.0in touchscreen infotainment system, while going for Excel and above (or ordering the Tech Pack on lesser trims) increases the screen size to 9.0in, and adds built-in sat-nav. The smaller screen has a few more physical buttons to make navigating the core menus a little easier, so it's the more user-friendly of the two while you're driving.

Whichever infotainment screen you end up with, the Toyota operating system is rather clunky. Fortunately, you can bypass it by mirroring a cut-down version of your smartphone's display on to the touchscreen using Android Auto or Apple CarPlay (they're both included as standard).

Everything else in the interior is laid out in a sensible way, and you get physical controls for the standard climate control, making it a doddle to operate on the move. Everything feels sturdily screwed together, but the interior lacks the upmarket feel you get in the Nissan Juke – let alone the Mini Countryman.

“The layout of the Yaris Cross' dashboard might be fairly basic, but I liked that all of the controls are easy to operate. It's also a bonus that you don't need to delve into the infotainment screen to change the temperature.” – Doug Revolta, Head of Video

Interior overview

Strengths Lofty driving position; well laid out controls; Android Auto and Apple CarPlay are standard

Weaknesses Toyota's infotainment software isn't great; restricted rear visibility

Toyota Yaris Cross interior dashboard

Passenger & boot space

How it copes with people and clutter

There's plenty of space in the front of the Toyota Yaris Cross, including sufficient head room for those over six feet tall.

Front storage space includes two cupholders, a tray in front of the gear selector for your wallet and keys, and another one under the infotainment screen for your phone. The cubbies in each door are quite small, taking a bottle of water and not much else.

A couple of six-footers will fit in the back, with a touch more space than in the Ford Puma. Anyone wanting to stretch out will be much more comfortable in a Skoda Kamiq or VW T-Roc, while the Renault Captur and the VW T-Cross can be had with more flexible sliding rear bench.

It's also worth noting that the rear door openings are small, which can make it tricky to squeeze in a child seat or for less agile people to climb aboard.

Unlike most of its rivals, the Yaris Cross comes with 40/20/40 split folding rear seatbacks in all but entry-level trim. The slightly more expensive Mini Countryman has the same, but the Puma and most other rivals have a less versatile 60/40 split. 

Boot capacity is pretty good, at 400 litres, matching the Kamiq. In real-world terms, that means it has space for seven carry-on suitcases. The Puma’s boot is even bigger, though – we managed to fit eight cases under its tonneau cover.

To make loading larger items easier, higher-spec Excel trim comes with a handy two-piece height-adjustable boot floor that reduces the loading lip. In fact, when it's in its highest setting, there's virtually no lip at all.

“There are plenty of handy storage cubbies inside the Yaris Croiss, but I found the tray below the infotainment screen too shallow to be of real use, because my items kept sliding out of it.” – Will Nightingale, Reviews Editor

Practicality overview

Strengths Space for four six-footers; good-sized boot; versatile 40/20/40 split-folding rear seats

Weaknesses Small rear door apertures; height adjustable boot floor is reserved for top-spec versions

Toyota Yaris Cross interior back seats

Buying & owning

Everyday costs, plus how reliable and safe it is

As a cash purchase, the entry-level Toyota Yaris Cross Icon comes in at about the same price as the Ford Puma in entry-level Titanium trim. That makes it more expensive than a similarly powerful Skoda Kamiq SE 1.0 TSI 110, but cheaper than the VW T-Roc Life. For exact prices, see our New Car Deals pages.

If you have a bit more to spend and like the idea of the Yaris Cross's hybrid tech, you can get a tweaked version of the same set-up in a premium car – to read more about that, see our Lexus LBX review.

The Yaris Cross promises to be much cheaper to run than the main rivals, particularly for company car drivers. The hybrid system keeps CO2 emissions as low as 100g/km, reducing the benefit-in-kind (BIK) tax rate.

CO2 emissions rise as you head up the trim levels, but even with four-wheel drive they remain lower than those of the front-wheel-drive Puma 1.0 Ecoboost mHEV 125.

Our True MPG fuel economy tests on the front-wheel-drive Yaris Cross led to a real-world average of 60.1mpg, which makes it one of the most economical cars we’ve tested. It averaged an incredible 103.3mpg on our simulated town route, making it a fantastic choice if you live in a city. For reference, you’d be lucky to see much more than 40mpg from a 1.0-litre Puma, T-Roc or Kamiq.

In terms of trims, we’d go for entry-level Icon because it keeps costs down but still includes plenty of kit. That includes 16in alloy wheels, keyless entry and start, a reversing camera, climate control, adaptive cruise control, auto headlights and the 8.0in infotainment touchscreen. 

We wouldn’t blame you for spending a little extra for Design trim, as that gets you some genuinely useful features such as LED headlights and roof rails. Mid-level Excel gets heated front seats, a heated steering wheel and dual-zone climate control. GR Sport comes with some sportier exterior styling cues, but it’s too expensive to recommend.

The Yaris Cross did well in our 2023 What Car? Reliability Survey – it came fifth out of 22 small SUV models ranked. Plus, Toyota placed an excellent second place out of 32 manufacturers in the brands table. Only Lexus did better.

You get a three-year manufacturer warranty, and that can be extended with regular servicing at a Toyota dealer. Every official service includes a 12 months warranty, up to 100,000 miles or 10 years, whichever comes first.

In terms of safety, the Yaris Cross scored the full five stars when it was tested by Euro NCAP. Standard equipment includes driver assistance systems such as automatic city braking technology (AEB), adaptive cruise control, automatic high-beam assist, lane-keeping assistance and road-sign display.

Blind-spot monitoring and rear cross-traffic alert are optional on the GR Sport and standard on Excel.

“When we tested the Yaris Cross against the Nissan Juke, we found that the Toyota would not only be cheaper to own over three years, but that it would be worth marginally more after the same period.” Dan Jones, Reviewer

Costs overview

Strengths The most fuel-efficient car we've ever tested; Toyota has an excellent reliability record; pricing is competitive with most rivals

Weaknesses Not as cheap as a Skoda Kamiq; some safety kit is reserved for higher specs

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Toyota Yaris Cross interior infotainment

FAQs

  • Yes, the Toyota Yaris is classed as a small car and is 3940mm long, while the Yaris Cross is a small SUV and measures 4172mm.

  • There's only one engine option: a 1.5-litre three-cylinder petrol that works with an electric motor and a small battery to form the hybrid system. We recommend combining it with Icon trim, which offers the best value for money.

  • The ‘self-charging’ tag is used as a way of explaining that you don’t have to plug in the Yaris Cross to recharge its hybrid batteries. Instead, they are topped up every time you brake. In contrast, plug-in hybrids (PHEVs) need to be charged up regularly to get the best efficiency.

At a glance
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RRP price range £25,530 - £35,215
Number of trims (see all)5
Number of engines (see all)2
Available fuel types (which is best for you?)hybrid
MPG range across all versions 55.4 - 64.2
Available doors options 5
Warranty 3 years / 60000 miles
Company car tax at 20% (min/max) £1,214 / £1,887
Company car tax at 40% (min/max) £2,428 / £3,775
Available colours