2021 Toyota Yaris Cross: hybrid, all-wheel drive SUV revealed

The Yaris Cross is a city-centric, high-riding hatchback that will offer hybrid, petrol-electric power and the option of all-wheel drive

Apr 24, 2020

Hot on the heels of the new Toyota Yaris hatchback is the 2021 Yaris Cross compact SUV, which adds a high driving position to the practical hatchback's list of selling points. Small, easy-to-drive, high-riding crossovers are hugely popular in the 2020s and this all-new Yaris Cross adds hybrid petrol-electric power to the recipe plus the option of all-wheel drive for extra traction when accelerating on slippery surfaces.

This compact but tall hatchback aims to offer more interior space than other cars of this size plus a high driving position, all in a small car that's designed to spend most of its time in the city, rather than ever heading off road. That means that it's costs, fuel economy and comfort rather than off-road ability that will determine whether the Yaris Cross is any good. Keep reading for more info.

Quick facts

  • 1.5-litre petrol-electric hybrid introduced
  • 30mm more ground clearance than Yaris
  • Two-wheel drive or all-wheel drive
  • CO2 emissions from as little as 120g/km
  • 90mm taller than Yaris hatchback
  • Set to go on sale in the UK in 2021

2021 Toyota Yaris Cross models

The Yaris Cross is based upon the new Toyota Yaris hatchback and comes with petrol-electric hybrid power and will be available in two incarnations - two-wheel drive, which will be cheaper and more economical and all-wheel drive, which adds a little extra grip when accelerating but will cost more and use more fuel, due to the additional weight of the all-wheel drive system.

All versions offer an additional 30mm of ground clearance compared with the standard Yaris hatchback. This isn't enough to give the Cross any off-roading ability, but it should make it less likely to ground itself when negotiating bumpy driveways, garden centre car parks or tackling some of the mammoth speed bumps that have appeared in many town centres. 

This new crossover has been designed for Europe with its raised height providing a greater feeling of security for those drivers who want a more upright seating position. The car is based upon the same platform as the standard Yaris hatchback and will feature a 1.5-litre petrol engine under the bonnet, boosted by a small electric motor.

In contrast to plug-in hybrid cars, the batteries here are unlikely to offer enough charge for more than a mile or two of all-electric running, with the electric motor serving to offer a small boost to the petrol engine to reduce fuel consumption around town, rather than powering the car often itself.

2021 Toyota Yaris Cross technical details

The Yaris Cross's 1.5-litre petrol engine produces 116hp, which means that you can expect leisurely acceleration. Unlike most engines of this size, it only has three cylinders, rather than four, so you can expect a characterful thrum from under the bonnet when working the engine hard.

Standard models will feature front-wheel drive - as with most hatchbacks. However, there is the option of all-wheel drive - which is unusual for a car of this size and limited power. All-wheel drive is typically featured on SUVs to give them greater traction when travelling on slippery surfaces and performance cars, so that their power is split across four wheels rather than two, limiting the likelihood of spinning the wheels when accelerating. 

The Yaris Cross's all-wheel drive system sends power to the front wheels during everyday driving for maximum fuel economy but in poor conditions and on slippery surfaces sends power to all four wheels.

2021 Toyota Yaris Cross practicality

The Yaris Cross features the same distance between the front and rear wheels as the Yaris hatchback, so the interior is likely to be supermini-sized. As a result, it should be a capable four-seater, but fitting five passengers in is likely to be a squeeze.

Despite the wheels being the same distance apart, the Yaris Cross is still 240mm longer than the standard hatchback, with most of this additional length behind the rear wheels. This means that the boot should be notably larger and the rear seats able to be located a bit further back, freeing up more space for rear passengers. Also helping to increase the feeling of roominess, the Yaris Cross is 90mm taller than the hatchback and 20mm wider.

As for the boot itself, there is a variable height floor - meaning you can either have a higher boot floor for easy loading with additional underfloor storage space or move the boot floor down and have one taller space. Helping to stop luggage flying about in the boot, the Yaris will also come with belts to hold items firmly in place.

2021 Toyota Yaris Cross hybrid fuel economy

The Yaris Cross will be powered by Toyota’s fourth generation petrol-electric hybrid system. This system uses a petrol engine in tandem with an electric motor and a small battery pack. Unlike a plug-in hybrid, however, the batteries only offer limited range with the car only able to travel on electric power alone for a small distance. The plus point of a conventional hybrid like this, compared with a plug-in hybrid is that you do not need to plug the car in to charge - the batteries are charged while driving.

The hybrid system offers maximum power of 116hp with CO2 emissions starting at less than 120g/km for the two-wheel drive versions. That's reasonably low for a car of this size, but notably higher than a plug-in hybrid, while puts a greater emphasis on electric power. Opt for the all-wheel drive models, though, and emissions rise to 135g/km upwards.


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