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2021 Yaris Cross revealed: mini SUV confirmed for Australia

John Law

Toyota has unveiled an all-new light SUV, the Yaris Cross, and confirmed the car for the Australian market. Like Toyota’s other SUVs, this diminutive crossover will offer buyers a choice of conventional petrol and hybrid powertrains.

As the name suggests, the Yaris Cross is built on the same platform as the Yaris city-car, Toyota’s TNGA-B platform, the same that underpins the Yaris GR.

The new car will be a Yaris-sized SUV to sit below the C-HR in Toyota’s range which also includes the perennial favourite Rav4 and larger Kluger.

2020 Yaris Cross - 3
More shrunken Rav4 than C-HR sibling.

Toyota had intentions to reveal this new model at the 2020 Geneva Motor Show, though after the pandemic cancelled that show, it was unveiled in an online press conference.

Toyota has borrowed design language for the Yaris Cross from the much larger Rav4 instead of the quirky C-HR. The rear three-quarter is particularly so, that trapezoidal boot-lid and squared-off arches scream mini-Rav4.

In photos, at least, we like the way the new Yaris Cross looks. Chunky and funky and it does well not to reference its humble Yaris city-car beginnings.

2020 Yaris Cross - 4
It might not be beautiful, but we like the way it looks.

Inside, though, the Cross can’t escape its Yaris roots, but that isn’t a bad thing. While not as swish as Mazda’s CX-3 on the inside, the Yaris Cross looks to be well laid-out.

We particularly like the design of the steering wheel, and we’re sure there will be a quality feeling inside the little Toyota.

On that note, the Cross benefits from a 30mm suspension raise and the added option of an all-wheel-drive system. It’s also physically larger inside, Toyota claims an increase of 90mm in height and 20mm in width over the Yaris it’s based on.

2020 Yaris Cross - 2
A well laid out interior. Will it be spacious?

Compared to the existing Corolla and C-HR, the Yaris Cross is 200mm shorter and around 30mm narrower, however, and at 1,560mm, it sits a mere 5mm shorter than the C-HR.

Depending on packaging, that may mean the Yaris Cross boasts a more capacious boot that the larger and, we presume, more expensive Corolla.

The extra interior space will be welcomed, and the higher-set driving position is what draws buyers away from hatchbacks in droves. Those SUV loving droves equate to 480,000 Australian sales last year, with Toyota claiming one-sixth (80,000) of those.

2020 Yaris Cross - 5
Pictured is the hybrid Yaris Cross.

Shared platforms equate to shared powertrains, and the Yaris Cross borrows the petrol 1.5-litre three-cylinder engine from its Yaris counterpart. Outputs are 88kW, and 145Nm produced high in the rev-range and will drive the front wheels only.

There will be an all-wheel-drive, like the Yaris GR you might say, though it isn’t the same system. Until slip is detected, the drive is sent exclusively to the front wheels like the Haldex-style unit found in Volkswagens. 

A hybrid powertrain will be on offer, combining the 1.5-litre engine (although in Atkinson-cycle configuration) producing 66kW and 120Nm combined with a 59kW electric motor powering the rear axle.

Toyota says the funky Yaris Cross could arrive in Australia as early as late 2020. We’ll have more information on price and exact specification as that date approaches.