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Toyota Urban Cruiser

The new Toyota Urban Cruiser, which was launched in South Africa a few weeks ago, is the brand’s smallest SUV on offer. Its name is not new in the Toy

By Thami Masemola on 30 Mar 2021
The new Toyota Urban Cruiser, which was launched in South Africa a few weeks ago, is the brand’s smallest SUV on offer. Its name is not new in the Toyota world, but is new to this country. Urban Cruiser is the second product to come out of the Suzuki/ Toyota cooperation agreement, following the Baleno/ Starlet. One could say it is the entry-level SUV that Toyota is looking to catch volume with, and one which Suzuki should be very wary of.

Keep in mind that Toyota has a big SUV called the Land Cruiser, which is a combination of premium and off-road prowess. Urban Cruiser is the entry into that world, but does not offer off-road capabilities. That is not to say it does not do normal gravel or bad roads, because it does. The high seating position does come in handy in these situations, where the driver is always able to see further ahead. So does the 19.8cm ground clearance.

To give you an idea of how compact it is, dimensions are as follows: length (3.9 metres), width (1.79m), height (1.64m) and a wheelbase of 2.5m. For context, think of the old-generation RAV4 from the 1990s which came in 5 and 3-door guises. The Urban Cruiser would fall between that pair in size.

The front end is pretty bold, with a large grille, large headlights (LED across the range), and even large fog lights. The side profile shows something quite boxy, but with a sloping rear roofline. It runs on 16-inch steel wheels for the entry-level model, and alloys for the rest. Where the bi-tone option is taken, the second colour goes from the A to the C-pillar on the roof. The boot lid boasts a substantial chrome insert with the words URBAN CRUISER etched on, and it cannot be missed.

As previously mentioned, the driver sits quite high inside, even on the lowest seat setting which one can adjust to their heart’s content. The model we had on test was the range-topping Xr with a 5-speed manual transmission. I experienced no negative feedback from the ‘box, in fact quite the opposite. However, it could use a sixth gear just to lower those revs and improve fuel consumption further. Putting it into reverse would turn on the reversing camera, which would display what it “saw” on the touch screen. Seats are fabric and the steering wheel has multifunctionality for things like adjusting the sound volume. Toyota Connect with in-car WiFi is standard, windows are all electric, the handbrake is manual so are the seat-adjusters. While the boot is not a particularly large 328 litres, it can be expanded by folding the rear seats flat.

Toyota has opted to keep the 1.5-litre naturally aspirated engine running in the Urban Cruiser, where it delivers 77kW of power and 138Nm of torque. The figures don’t look promising on paper, but in real life they actually deliver enough grunt to never feel any pulling or hill climb issues. Urban Cruiser is a strong performer in the segment, with a top speed of 177km/h. At the petrol pump it is also friendly; we returned 6.7 litres per 100km, vs Toyota’s claimed 6.2. Very good.

The new Toyota Urban Cruiser is aimed at the young and the young at heart, who want a no-nonsense baby SUV with broad functionality, a long list of standard features, ever-present backup from a large manufacturer and relaxed driving. Toyota will have problems keeping stock.

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