New Toyota Yaris Cross revealed to go on sale in 2021

  • New small SUV will offer both hybrid and four-wheel drive
  • Based on the latest Yaris; built in same factory in France
  • Could prove a big seller for Toyota, early signs are good

2021 Toyota Yaris rear three quarter

Toyota has become the latest manufacturer to launch a compact, supermini-sized SUV. Named the Yaris Cross, it’s based on (you guessed it) the latest, still unreleased Yaris, and as a result features a similar look and much of the same technology.

Toyota plans to put it on sale in 2021 – the ongoing Coronavirus (COVID-19 pandemic presumably makes it difficult to choose a date with any more precision – and it’ll be built alongside the Yaris in Toyota’s factory in France. When it launches, however, it will have a great deal of cars to contend with – the small SUV market is incredibly crowded and features big-hitters such as the Skoda Kamiq, Renault Captur and Peugeot 2008.

First impressions of the new Yaris, however, suggest that this closely-related SUV will prove to be very good indeed.

What’s new about the Toyota Yaris Cross?

This is an area of the market Toyota’s not really dabbled in much – the existing C-HR is more of a stylish offering, while the Yaris Cross will be squarely aimed at buyers needing practicality. It sits on the same basic component set as almost all of Toyota’s latest cars. It’s called TNGA, and underpins the C-HR and RAV4 as well as the new Yaris, Corolla and Camry.

The Yaris Cross looks a great deal like the regular Yaris, which isn’t surprising. Its square body has a downturned grille and prominent Toyota badge at the front, with a two-tone roofline to provide some visual interest. To mark it out as an SUV, though, it’s taller than the car it’s based on – 90mm taller, to be precise – and features larger wheels within black plastic, squared-off wheel arches.

2021 Toyota Yaris side profile

While the Yaris Cross has the same wheelbase as the standard car, it’s 240mm longer and 20mm wider to provide a good deal more interior space.

What’s under the bonnet?

So far Toyota’s revealed the Yaris Cross in only one guise – as a hybrid. Like the Yaris, it pairs a 1.5-litre, three-cylinder petrol engine with an electric motor. The total power output of the two will be 116hp, which although it isn’t exactly fast competes fairly well most of its competitors such as the 117hp Nissan Juke or 115hp Volkswagen T-Cross.

This is a non-plug-in or ‘self-charging’ hybrid system, which means you can’t plug it in to charge or run for any real distance on electric power alone. However this does mean it’s simpler, lighter and cheaper than an equivalent plug-in hybrid, and should still provide fuel economy levels similar to a comparable diesel.

2021 Toyota Yaris Cross detail

Though Toyota’s not revealed any performance or efficiency figures just yet, it has said it expects carbon dioxide emissions to be very low.

There are very few hybrids in this area of the market, so the Yaris Cross will be trying to steal sales from the likes of the Hyundai Kona Hybrid or Kia Niro, as well as converting buyers from diesel.

Another rare addition is that of all-wheel drive. This is provided by an additional electric motor on the rear axle, and it’s ‘intelligent’ – meaning it needs no intervention from the driver on when to cut in. As the only compact SUVs with all-wheel drive are the Dacia Duster, Suzuki Vitara, Hyundai Kona and Mitsubishi ASX, the Yaris Cross could prove popular with those who insist on four driven wheels.

What’s the new Yaris Cross like inside?

The interior is very similar to the new Yaris. That means you get a high-set central information screen above digital climate controls. Our first impressions of the new Yaris cabin are that this is a big improvement over some Toyota interiors of old – it felt solid and well laid-out, although the use of black plastics and dark materials means it doesn’t feel as bright and airy inside as a rival such as the Renault Captur.

2021 Toyota Yaris Cross interior

There should be plenty of space, though, and clever touches such as a 40:20:40 split folding rear seat as well as an electric tailgate and two-level boot floor.

What this means for you

First thing you need to know is when you can buy a Yaris Cross. Right now exact timing is unknown, with the ongoing Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic preventing manufacturers from making any firm plans. Expect to see the Yaris Cross go on sale some time in 2021. Pricing details haven’t been announced either, but we’d expect entry cost to be a little higher than some of its rivals given the sophisticated hybrid engine system.

Further reading:

>> The best small 4x4s on sale

>> Toyota Yaris first drive review

>> The best hybrid SUVs on sale