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Toyota C-HR

Toyota Yaris Cross


Toyota C-HR

You can almost trace Toyota's renaissance back to a single day – the day the C-HR was revealed to the world as a production car. The company could have gotten away with jacking up a Yaris and calling it a compact SUV, but instead they went all out with a bolt-from-the-blue looker with some really interesting styling ideas inside and out.

I mean, yes, they have now jacked-up a Yaris and called it an SUV, but the C-HR was first and it's cooler, even despite the name meaning Coupe – High Rider. Absolute cringe-fest that, but one of the very few missteps in this changing of the guard for the Japanese giant.

Rolling on Toyota's excellent TNGA platform, the C-HR has settled nicely into its role as one of the bravest Toyotas in years (sold here in Australia, anyway). But with the arrival of the Yaris and Yaris Cross, it was time for a little tweak to the range.

Safety rating
Engine Type1.2L turbo
Fuel TypePremium Unleaded Petrol
Fuel Efficiency6.4L/100km
Seating5 seats

Toyota Yaris Cross

While we don’t exactly need to point out the increasing popularity of SUVs, it is important to note they’re simultaneously growing and shrinking in size to accommodate all areas of the market.

Enter Toyota’s smallest one yet, the aptly named Yaris Cross.

Yep, the Yaris Cross is Toyota’s first light SUV, and it’s based on the Yaris hatchback, so it’s a pretty easy idea to wrap your head around. But look a little closer, and it’s clear a lot effort has been put into making it more than it seems.

Indeed, Toyota doesn’t want you to think the Yaris Cross is just a Yaris on stilts. Instead, it wants to make it clear this light SUV is much more than that.

So, is it a better to live with in the city than the Yaris? Let’s find out.

Safety rating
Engine Type1.5L
Fuel TypeRegular Unleaded Petrol
Fuel Efficiency5.4L/100km
Seating5 seats


Toyota C-HR7.6/10

The two-tier C-HR range doesn't have a duffer in it and the great thing about it is that the base model is so good the temptation to spend up on the Koba is limited to cosmetic things (with one exception...). The GXL has lots of good safety gear and the only tangible missing thing is the Koba's reverse AEB and hybrid option. The hybrid uses half the petrol, so is worth considering as well as for the extra punch.

I find myself suggesting the C-HR without reservation to people I would never have recommended a Toyota to in the past – it's good value, beautifully-built and designed, great to drive and remarkably cheap to own and run.

Toyota Yaris Cross8/10

On debut, the Yaris Cross is arguably a class leader. Yes, it’s expensive, but some of its key rivals are more so – and by some degree. Naturally, you can get a more affordable – and lower-spec – variant than the Urban 2WD petrol tested here, so keep that in mind.

Either way, the Yaris Cross is surprisingly practical, not short on safety, and rides and handles with the best of them. Of course, the Urban 2WD petrol doesn’t excel when not doing the slow crawl, so consider the hybrid version, but this is a very compelling package.

Once again, Toyota has expanded its model line-up and done so by introducing something new that’s genuinely good in nearly all areas. In fact, we’d say the Yaris Cross is actually great in a lot of them. All of this just makes you wonder what segment’s next…


Toyota C-HR

The C-HR still looks box-fresh three years after its launch. I still have to remind people that it's a Toyota, it's so much more interesting than anything the brand has built for a long time. Show them a Supra and they have to be helped back to their feet. The big bluff front end with the huge headlights still cuts through the visual noise on the road. I still don't like the weird, clunky doorhandles on the rear doors which are ungainly and impractical, sited quite high for small children. The rear view is as polarising as ever, but I fall on the "yes, well done," side of the ledger.

The cabin is also virtually unchanged, which is the right thing to do because it really is very cool. It's a tad colourless like so many cabins these days, but with a consistent, coherent design philosophy, right down to the neat imprint in the headlining of the ovoid shape that dominates the interior design theme. The C-HR was one of the first cars to go without those big clunky rocker switches so beloved of Toyota for so long and it all feels really good.

Toyota Yaris Cross

Well, you certainly can’t accuse the Yaris Cross of being boring, especially in Urban form.

And to be fair, images and videos don’t do the Yaris Cross justice. We had our reservations about its exterior, particularly that front end, but having now experienced it in the metal, it’s actually quite interesting – in a good way.

The stubby nose gives the Yaris Cross a distinctive – and perhaps divisive – look, but it’s certainly a strong face you’ll remember, with a touch of aggression provided by the wide but narrow grille

Then there’s the smart LED headlights positioned up high, which are complemented by the deep set of vertical LED daytime running lights found directly below.

Take in the side view, and the Yaris Cross attempts to remind you that it’s more than a just a high-riding hatchback, what with its obligatory black plastic wheelarch cladding and door mouldings.

It’s also here where our test vehicle’s two-tone paintwork really comes to the fore, with Ink Mica (black) the finish for all of its body panels except the roof, side-mirror covers and rocker mouldings, which are of the gold variety instead.

Yep, it’s got some personality.

The Urban also gets a slick set of 18-inch alloy wheels with 215/50 tyres, which add to the sporty aesthetic set off by the fast roofline.

The Yaris Cross is at its most conservative at the rear, with the bumper almost entirely black plastic, although the horizontally linked LED tail-lights do make it look more premium

Inside, the Urban continues to be daring, with eyes immediately drawn to its dark-brown artificial leather upholstery with tweed-like fabric inserts. It’s an acquired taste, and, if we're honest, it's not one we’re not sure we can stomach. And unfortunately, there’s no other factory option.

The dark-brown theme also extends to the lower dashboard and front door inserts, with the latter rather interesting to touch. And aside from the delightful soft-touch upper dashboard, hard plastics are used for almost every other surface, which is to be expected.

What isn’t is the undersized 7.0-inch central touchscreen, which does Toyota’s rather basic multimedia system absolutely no favours, with some words very hard to read. At least Apple CarPlay and Android Auto support is on hand.

Better executed is the 4.2-inch multifunction display, which is horizontally positioned between the separately enclosed tachometer and digital speedometer that, again, look a lot better in person. The leather-trimmed steering wheel with paddle-shifters is also a treat.


Toyota C-HR

Up front, a long, narrow bin is a good place for your bits and pieces while the two separate cupholders and bottle holders in the doors will free up your hands and knees from holding the beverages. The rear cupholders are in the doors because there isn't an armrest but also means there are no bottle holders.

The C-HR is surprisingly roomy in the back but it's also gloomy as the glass sweeps up to meet the roof. Legroom is not bad for me at 180cm when seated behind where I drive and the seat itself is comfortable. The front seats are excellent and look good even in the base model.

You can store 377 litres in the boot with the seats up and 1112 litres with them down, which is competitive if not outstanding in the segment.

You also have three top-tether anchors and two ISOFIX points for the very young folk.

Toyota Yaris Cross

Measuring 4180mm in length (with a 2560mm wheelbase), 1765mm in width and 1590mm in height, the Yaris Cross is without question a compact vehicle, but that doesn’t mean it doesn’t pack a practicality punch.

In fact, its cargo capacity is very competitive, at 390L, although the 40/20/40 split-fold rear bench can be stowed to increase it to an undisclosed volume.

Of note, the Urban 2WD petrol’s boot has a false floor that unleashes its maximum cargo capacity when lowered. However, the disadvantage of doing so is the large hump created when the second row isn’t in use, not to the mention the high load lip that ensues, too

Either way, the boot’s aperture is wide and square, which makes loading bulkier items a cinch, while two bag hooks are on hand for the shopping, too.

Even the Yaris Cross’ second row is impressive when it comes to space, with three inches of knee-room available behind our 184cm driving position, alongside more than an inch of headroom.

That said, while the transmission tunnel is small, there still isn’t enough room for three adults to sit abreast and not be on top of one another.

Children, of course, will be fine sitting on the middle bench. Speaking of which, two ISOFIX and three top-tether anchorage points are available for fitting child seats.

Where things start to come undone, though, is the second-row amenities, or lack thereof. Yep, there aren’t any directional air vents or connectivity options, which is sure to annoy certain occupants.

The driver and front passenger fare much better, with two USB-A ports located on the centre stack, while the deep front cubby below house a 12V power outlet.

Other in-cabin storage options include a second, shallower cubby found higher up on the centre stack, underneath the central air vents. Then there’s the 5.7L glovebox, which has a fairly small usable area.

A central storage bin (and therefore armrest) is noticeably absent, with its usual position taken up by a pair of cupholders, one of which is ever so slightly smaller than the other.

A third cupholder for rear occupants to share is located at the back of the centre console. Alternatively, their door bins can hold 600mL bottles, while those up front can take 1.5L items.

Price and features

Toyota C-HR

For some reason, Toyota thought the model designation "GXL" would fit the C-HR despite being far more at home on a Land Cruiser, which is a car with a very 1980s vibe versus the C-HR's 21st century zeitgeist feel. The main changes for the 2021 model year are added to the safety column, but GXL buyers pick up keyless entry and start.

Apart from that, things are more or less as they were before – you can still choose from 2WD ($30,915 plus on-roads) or AWD ($32,915). Remembering, of course, that this is the entry-level machine that used to be known as plain old C-HR and is now about $750 more than the MY20. The manual version is long gone, if you're wondering.

You get 17-inch alloys, a six-speaker stereo, dual-zone climate control, reversing camera, active cruise control, sat nav, auto LED headlights, auto wipers, front and rear parking sensors, auto high beam, folding heated electric mirrors, power windows and a space-saver spare.

Toyota hasn't taken the opportunity to again improve the touchscreen, which went up to 8.0-inches last year along with a big improvement in the media system software. It still looks washed-out and stretched but does have Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. The hardware really needs to be higher-resolution and the system itself really doesn't reflect Toyota's might in the industry. Better than it used to be, though and, with smartphone integration, less of a problem.

Toyota Yaris Cross

Nine Yaris Cross variants are available, with the Urban 2WD petrol tested here priced from $32,990 plus on-road costs, which is fairly reasonable for a flagship light SUV that’s well-specified. Alternatively, entry-level GX and mid-range GXL versions are available for $6000 and $3000 less respectively.

Standard equipment not already mentioned in the Urban petrol 2WD includes a space-saver spare wheel, power-folding side mirrors, rear privacy glass, a hands-free power-operated tailgate, satellite navigation, digital radio, a six-speaker sound system, a head-up display, keyless entry and start, heated front seats, a power-adjustable driver’s seat and single-zone climate control. An auto-dimming rearview mirror is the only significant feature missing here.

Paintwork is the only option here, with extra-cost colours attracting a $500 premium, while a two-tone look (black or gold roof, side-mirror covers and door mouldings) can be had for a separate $450. As mentioned, our test vehicle was finished in no-cost Ink Mica with gold.

For reference, the Yaris Cross Urban 2WD petrol goes tyre to tyre with the automatic Mazda CX-3 Akari 2WD ($35,950), Hyundai Venue Elite ($26,490) and Volkswagen T-Cross 85TSI Style ($30,990), among others.

Engine & trans

Toyota C-HR

The GXL is powered by the a 1.2-litre turbo four-cylinder petrol engine with just 85kW and 185Nm available to drag the 1440kg 2WD GXL around (heavier if it's AWD). Power goes through either the front or all four wheels via continuously variable transmission (CVT).

Toyota Yaris Cross

The Yaris Cross tested here is motivated by a 1.5-litre naturally aspirated three-cylinder petrol engine that sends 88kW of power at 6600rpm and 145Nm of torque from 4800-5200rpm. Not exactly high-powered, then, but it doesn’t need to be.

The Urban 2WD petrol sends drive to the front wheels via a continuously variable automatic transmission (CVT) with a mechanical first gear and 10 simulated steps. Yep, it’s really trying to be something (a torque-converter unit) it’s not.

For reference, a 2WD hybrid version can be had for $2000 extra, while a AWD hybrid variant costs a further $3000. Both add two and three electric motors respectively as part of a ‘self-charging’ system that develops a combined 85kW.

Fuel consumption

Toyota C-HR

Toyota claims a 5.7L/100km official combined cycle figure of 6.6L/100km and requires premium unleaded to run at its best. In my week with the car which was mostly suburban running with a little freeway dalliance returned an indicated 8.3L/100km. That's not a terrible distance away from the combined cycle and given I work C-HRs hard when I have them, that's not bad.

Toyota Yaris Cross

The Yaris Cross Urban 2WD petrol’s fuel consumption on the combined-cycle test (ADR 81/02) is 5.4L per 100km, while its carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions are 124 grams per km. Both claims are very solid.

For reference, the aforementioned 2WD hybrid and AWD hybrid versions consume an even better 3.8L/100km and 4.0L/100km while emitting 86g/km and 90g/km respectively.

In our real-world testing with the 2WD petrol, we averaged a more than respectable 6.8L/100km over 240km of driving split fairly evenly between city traffic and highways.

For reference, the Yaris Cross tested here has a 42L fuel tank that takes 91RON petrol at minimum.


Toyota C-HR

The only real complaint I have about the C-HR is the drivetrain. There's not anything wrong with it – far from it – it's just that everything else in the class has more power and torque and which helps haul their weight along – the C-HR's is considerable at more than 1400kg. My long-term loan Suzuki Vitara Turbo weighs 300kg less and has a stack more power and torque for about the same money. 

Added to that, the C-HR's economy-focussed continuously variable transmission (my second least favourite transmission after "community") means progress is fairly leisurely and can get a bit loud when you put your foot down.

Which I do a fair bit. While the 1.2-litre engine is a really nice piece of technology and still unusual for a Toyota – it just doesn't have the horses and twist to pull the C-HR along as quickly as even Hyundai's 2.0-litre naturally-aspirated engine in the Kona, or the CVT-equipped Seltos. But that's okay – it's not a criticism, it's not like it's dangerously slow, it's just slower than most of its rivals and feels it. The Hybrid, which can only be specced with front-wheel drive and the Koba spec, is a little more peppy and the electric motor covers up some of the CVT's lax approach to acceleration.

It's also mildly frustrating because, hot damn, the chassis under the C-HR is really good. I'm going to mention TNGA again because it's such a good platform and I haven't driven a TNGA-based car that I didn't like. It's more than that, obviously – Toyota's engineers have built a driving experience around it that encourages yobbos like me to enjoy the way it corners while your passenger will enjoy the ride, which is excellent on all but the worst surfaces.

The C-HR is also pretty keen when it comes to cornering, with a nice progressive steering feel and weight. It's not particularly chatty, but again, it's a lot of fun and more fun than a few of its rivals. The roundabout raceway is a good laugh in this car.

The lack of go does come back to you on single carriageways when you want to overtake. While the C-HR cruises quietly and comfortably, a floored throttle for an overtake produces rather more bark than bite, so you'll find yourself settling comfortably behind whatever is slowing you down until you've got a long line of sight. Given the C-HR's likely citybound life, this is probably not going to be a big problem. If it is, again, the hybrid has a bit more go.

Toyota Yaris Cross

Being a light SUV, the Yaris Cross ought to be good to drive around town, and we can happily report it very much is, but that doesn’t mean it’s not without its shortcomings.

As mentioned, the Urban 2WD petrol’s engine isn’t exactly a powerhouse, but that’s not exactly an issue in city traffic, where it can plod along with ease.

However, if you need to make a quick manoeuvre or want to overtake a slower vehicle, then it ‘quickly’ becomes apparent just how relaxed the Urban 2WD petrol is. Needless to say, it’s straight-line performance can be summed up in one word: lethargic.

While cost would’ve likely been the deciding factor, it’s a wonder Toyota didn’t put the C-HR’s 85kW/185Nm 1.2-litre turbo-petrol three-cylinder engine in the Yaris Cross, as its low-down torque would’ve been very much appreciated.

That said, Yaris Cross buyers can instead opt for its hybrid powertrain, which comes with the benefit of ‘instant torque’, which is afforded by its electric motors.

We’d definitely be spending the extra money to go low-emissions (don’t worry about getting the almost-pointless AWD version), even if it does take some time for the fuel savings to make up the cost difference.

It’s worth pointing out the Urban 2WD petrol’s CVT isn’t to blame here. In fact, it’s one of the best we’ve sampled to date.

While often dreaded, this version has a mechanical first gear, which makes for much more natural off-the-line or low-speed acceleration (read: progressive).

In fact, the best compliment we can pay is how long it took us to remember there was a CVT on hand in the first place. Seriously, it was quite a while.

And even when travelling at speed, the Urban 2WD petrol doesn’t quickly jump around to higher engine speeds when the accelerator is breathed upon. Instead, it bides its time and largely does the right thing.

That’s not to say it doesn’t get noisy. If you bury your right foot, it will go after peak power without hesitation, exposing the droning side of the Urban 2WD petrol’s engine, which usually emits its characterful thrum in short spurts.

Meanwhile, the Yaris Cross rides comfortably in the urban jungle, with the Urban 2WD petrol’s suspension set-up consisting of a MacPherson-strut front axle and a rear torsion beam.

The latter tends to skip a bit over rolling bumps, but it’s otherwise more than competent alongside the former, soaking up nearly all other road imperfections.

In tow is the electric power steering system that’s employed by all nine Yaris Cross variants. It’s well-balanced for suburban driving, proving to be quick enough with just the right amount of weight and adequate feedback.

The Yaris Cross isn’t shy of a corner, either, taking the opportunity to show off its strong body control (one advantage of the Urban 2WD petrol’s 1185kg kerb weight), even if it does sometimes push wide when driven hard. Yep, handling is yet another strong suit.


Toyota C-HR

The extra $700 or so over the MY19 C-HR has mostly gone into safety.

On board the GXL are seven airbags (including a driver's knee airbag), ABS, stability and traction controls, blind spot monitoring, high- and low-speed AEB with pedestrian detection (day and night) and cyclists (day only), forward collision warning, trailer sway control, lane departure warning, lane keep assist, lane trace assist (this keeps the car in the centre of the lane with gentle steering help), speed sign recognition (which can also change the cruise control speed if you want it to) and reverse cross traffic alert.

Added to that impressive lot is the intersection assist function, which warns you something is coming from the left or right at an intersection that you may not otherwise have clocked. That might seems a bit silly for the C-HR's stubby bonnet, but when your street is parked out and you can't see either way, it's extremely useful.

Toyota Yaris Cross

Neither ANCAP nor its European counterpart, Euro NCAP, has awarded the Yaris Cross a safety rating yet.

Advanced driver-assist systems in the Urban 2WD petrol include autonomous emergency braking with pedestrian (day/night) and cyclist (day) detection, intersection assist (day), lane-keep and steering assist (including emergency), adaptive cruise control, road-sign recognition, blind-spot monitoring, rear cross-traffic alert, high-beam assist, surround-view cameras and front and rear parking sensors. Yep, you’re not left wanting much here

Other standard safety equipment includes eight airbags (dual front, front-side and curtain plus driver’s knee and centre), anti-skid brakes (ABS), brake assist and the usual electronic stability and traction control systems.


Toyota C-HR

Toyota offers a five-year/unlimited kilometre warranty along with a further two years on the drivetrain if you service with Toyota.

Servicing with Toyota seems eminently sensible because for the first four years or four services (intervals are set at 12 months/15,000km) you won't pay more than $200 per service, which is a dead-set bargain.

Toyota Yaris Cross

As with all Toyota Australia models, the Yaris Cross comes with a five-year/unlimited-kilometre warranty, which lags behind Kia's seven-year term, let alone the 10-year standard set by Mitsubishi, which is dependent on vehicles being serviced by the dealer network.

Speaking of which, the Urban 2WD petrol’s service intervals are every 12 months or 15,000km, whichever comes first. A five-year/75,000km capped-price servicing plan is available for $1025, or just $205 per visit. Yep, it’s cheap to run.