Toyota’s new entry SUV is far better, yet still affordable
In response to rising consumer demand for affordable and compact SUV’s, Toyota has just unveiled its all-new Urban Cruiser. Whilst still highly affordable, Toyota’s entry-level SUV is now bigger, safer, smarter, and prettier, as the trusty Japanese brand aims to capture even more of this rapidly growing market segment.
New Urban Cruiser is bigger, safer, and smarter
At 4,365 mm, the new Urban Cruiser is 370 mm longer than its predecessor. This expansion directly results in improved leg room for rear passengers, as well as an extra 25 litres of boot space for a respectable 353 litre total luggage capacity.
Safety-wise, the all-new Urban Cruiser benefits from two additional side and curtain airbags, Vehicle Stability Control and Hill-Start Assist. You will also find that all three rear seatbelts have emergency lock functionality. This is over and above safety features already included in the previous urban cruiser, such as ABS, traction control, driver and passenger airbags, park distance control, and ISOFIX child restraint systems.
Tech-wise, new Xs spec Urban Cruisers gain a reverse camera, Bluetooth connectivity, wired Android Auto, wireless Apple CarPlay, auto aircon, and electric fold mirrors. Xr models now have all this as well as cruise control, rear parking sensors, and two additional speakers to make a total of four.
The new one is better looking too
The new Urban Cruiser can be identified by a polished front end. The upper grille has been replaced by an EV-like gloss black trim piece, which incorporates a chrome design that neatly carries into the slim new LED daytime running lights. The lower grille is now more aggressive too, with a ‘trapezoidal design’.
At the rear you’ll find a similarly polished and premium look with eye-catching LED taillights, and generally sturdier looking trim pieces than its predecessor, which I found was a tad tinny. All in all, the Urban Cruiser now looks far more upmarket.
Considering that the Urban Cruiser’s 1.5-litre inline-four petrol engine only produces 77 kW and 138 Nm, I was expecting the Urban Cruiser to struggle. However, I found that it was surprisingly capable. Overtaking wasn’t a hassle, and the car is more than happy to cruise at highway speeds, especially in the manual.
It drives well. But beware the A/T
I also found that the ride quality in the new Urban Cruiser exceeded expectations. The vehicle handled bumps admirably and there was a surprising absence of road and wind noise in the cabin. Which makes for easy conversation with passengers, even at highway speed.
I was however not impressed by the 4-speed automatic in Xr models. The gearbox is smooth and does a great job in and around town, but it simply isn’t sufficient on the open road and at highway speeds. At anything over 100 kph, the slightest additional throttle input results in the car unnecessarily downshifting to third gear, where it’s annoyingly loud and the higher revs hamper fuel economy.
The 5-speed manual, however, is fantastic. The extra gear is most welcome on the open road, and it is easy to operate with a light clutch that provides great ‘bite-point’ feedback. Not to mention it’s cheaper than the auto, and helped me achieve better fuel consumption. A respectable 6 l/100km in the manual. I only managed 7.9l/100km out of the auto, in a similar driving environment.
New Urban Cruiser is easier to live with
The Urban Cruiser is certainly not the epitome of luxury inside due to an abundance of hard plastics. That said, the addition of creature comforts such as a height adjustable driver’s seat, and reach plus rake steering adjustability make the Urban Cruiser even easier to live with than before. In comparison to rivals, the Urban Cruiser has loads of leg room for passengers in the back, who will also benefit from the addition of seat back pockets.
Albeit dated, the infotainment system as well and the driver’s display in between the gauges is easy to use, and has everything you need. Wireless Apple CarPlay is also a big win for future Urban Cruiser owners. Whilst the screens could certainly be larger and crisper, the average Urban Cruiser owner is unlikely to even care, considering that price is such an important factor in this segment.
New Urban Cruiser is still affordable
Perhaps the most compelling argument in favour of the new Urban Cruiser is its pricing. You can get the new Urban Cruiser from as little R329 400 with the Xs Manual. Or as much as R369 900 with the XR Auto. For me the most compelling option is the XR manual, which sits in the middle at a respectable R347 400.
All in all, the bigger, safer, smarter, better looking, and still affordable Urban Cruiser is now more convincing than ever. Nice one, Toyota!