It might look like a Yaris with a suspension lift, but that's most definitely not the case. The all-new Yaris Cross may share it's name with the compact Toyota, but is build as a completely new vehicle. Of course the two share a lot of components, but when you get behind the wheel of the Cross you'll definitely notice a difference. The same goes for its appearance, though at first glance you might mistake it for a high Yaris. The Cross is longer, wider and taller and no two panels are the same. The result is a roomier interior, bigger boot and larger footprint, which gives you a more secure ride.
The same engine, different car. One aspect the Yaris Cross shares with its small sister is its 1.5-litre three-cylinder petrol engine with an output of 88kW and 145Nm, paired with a 10-speed CVT automatic. The claimed fuel consumption is a bit higher than for the hatchback with 5.3L/100km, but this drops down to 3.8L/100km for the front-wheel drive hybrid version. The AWD version uses just a bit more with 4.0L/100km, having to power all four wheels of course.
In many ways the Yaris Cross is exactly what you’d expect from behind the wheel. It’s pretty much identical to the regular Yaris hatch in terms of its handling and roadholding, but with added weight and a taller centre of gravity. It's not particularly fast, but for overall city driving it does a perfect job.
There is no doubt that inside is where Toyota took pretty much everything from the regular Yaris and put it in the Cross, including its well considered cabin layout and a large 8.0-inch infotainment screen, with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. The materials feel solid and even the plastics have a hard wearing feeling without becoming cheap. The new dash cluster introduced in the Yaris is cool with a series of three screens, two of them in circular housings, for a sporty look.
But the main reason you would choose the Cross over the hatch is because its even roomier, surprising for such a compact vehicle. Space is a strong point throughout, with ample room for front-seat occupants and enough toe, knee and head space for a couple of six-foot adults further back. Plus the extra ride height is welcome, making it more comfortable to get in and out of.
It even has a 390-litre boot, which is more than enough for everyday use. There is also a tray at the top of the centre stack as well as another one over the glove box. Front seat passengers score a pair of cupholders while the rear seats passengers get one at the rear of the console to share, with all four doors sporting a bottle holder for 750ml-type bottles.
Toyota's first steps in the compact SUV market comes in the form of the base-model GX, which starts just under $30k for the petrol powered front-wheel drive version. As with every model you can choose to upgrade to either a hybrid front-wheel drive or hybrid all-wheel drive version, adding $6000 in total. This base-model Toyota Yaris Cross comes with 16-inch alloys, halogen headlights, keyless entry with push-button start, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto.
All models come with eight airbags in total, including twin centre airbags (on the inboard cushion of both front seats) to better protect occupants in a side-impact crash. They all also come with speed sign recognition, lane-tracing assistance, autonomous emergency braking with intersection assistance, reverse camera, and automatic high beam.
Add $2000 and you'll drive the GXL, gains tinted rear windows, embedded navigation, and bi-LED headlights – and further safety features including blind-spot monitor and a panoramic view rear-view camera.
For another $3000, setting you back in the mid-$30k range, you can have the top-of-the-range Urban and gain larger 18-inch alloys, heated front seats with electric adjustment for the driver, head-up display, and a power tailgate with kick sensor. For that price you're in Toyota RAV4 territory though, which is a larger SUV.
You will be covered by a five-year/unlimited-km warranty and 12-month/15,000km service intervals for five years/75,000km priced at $205 per service.
To answer the question asked before: yes, the Toyota Yaris Cross is the best of both worlds. It's well equipped with a range of fuel efficient engines, comfortable and fitted with all the latest safety technology. Whether you like its looks or not, you have to admit that the Yaris Cross is modern and sleek - it definitely won't go unnoticed. As the big brother of the smallest car in the Toyota line-up - the Yaris hatchback - the Yaris Cross is a good step up if you are in the market for an SUV, but don't need to space of the RAV4 or like the styling of the CH-R. A perfect alternative.