Toyota Yaris Cross SUV - Engines, drive & performance

The Toyota Yaris Cross has keen handling and feels responsive

Carbuyer Rating

4.1 out of 5

Engines, drive & performance Rating

3.5 out of 5

Hybrid models, including those from Toyota, used to have a reputation for being painfully dull to drive. Sluggish acceleration, CVT automatic gearboxes with a rubber-band feel and eco tyres were acceptable in built-up cities, but frustrating for anyone venturing further afield.

This all changed for the latest crop of hybrid models, however, based on Toyota's new TGNA platform. New battery technology and more powerful electric motors have helped bring models like the Yaris and Yaris Cross alive. They're more responsive when you press the throttle, and feel light and agile to drive.

The Yaris Cross has quick steering and feels composed and unflustered when you tackle a series of bends, much like the low-slung Yaris it's based on. While it has a 25mm increase in ride height, you'll mainly notice this in the raised view out, rather than how the Cross feels to drive. Models like the Ford Puma still feel more engaging, but most drivers will find the Cross feels more like a hatchback to drive than an SUV.

Toyota Yaris Cross hybrid engine

The Yaris Cross is fitted with a 1.5-litre three-cylinder petrol engine, along with an electric motor making an impressive 79bhp, for a combined total of 114bhp. Acceleration from 0-62mph takes 11.2 seconds for the front-wheel drive version, but the low-down surge of the electric motor helps it feel quicker than this figure suggests. 

There are several driving modes alongside the default, called Eco, Power and EV, but it's easy to get the best out of the hybrid setup with little effort. That's especially the case when 'B' is selected, which increases regeneration to help put more energy back into the battery and reduce the need for using the brake pedal. 

EV mode allows for electric-only stints around town or in traffic, and so long as the battery has enough charge, the petrol engine won't kick in until the Cross hits around 30mph. Above this the powertrain defaults to hybrid mode, where the car decides how best to juggle its power, and a clear graphic indicates how the system is working.

Which Is Best?

Cheapest

  • Name
    1.5 Hybrid Icon 5dr CVT
  • Gearbox type
    Auto
  • Price
    £21,604

Most Economical

  • Name
    1.5 Hybrid Design 5dr CVT
  • Gearbox type
    Auto
  • Price
    £23,209

Fastest

  • Name
    1.5 Hybrid Icon 5dr CVT
  • Gearbox type
    Auto
  • Price
    £21,604

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