REVIEW | The 2021 Toyota Urban Cruiser is at home in the city
The insatiable hunger for sport-utility vehicles across the globe has seen manufacturers pandering with a plethora in all shapes and sizes.
The bigger models tend to cost a bit more than the average consumer may be able to afford, especially at this time when many are scaling down.
What are the options at the more cost-conscious end?
One brand that recently threw its hat into the ring was Toyota. You would have noticed this hat is identical to a piece of headwear from Suzuki: the Vitara Brezza.
The Toyota Urban Cruiser comes as a second installment of the partnership between Suzuki and Toyota, following the launch of the Starlet that is identical to the Suzuki Baleno.
The Urban Cruiser, which we tested last week, is an attractive vehicle. Its chrome grille echoes hints of Fortuner. The addition of standard LED-headlamps and fog lights gives further prominence to its face. A rugged theme is seen down the side, with plastic mouldings.
Rectangular lights take focus at the rear, flanking the “Urban Cruiser” moniker on the tailgate.
The vehicle boasts a functional and inviting layout. A big nod of approval is given to the push to start button, standard across the range. The infotainment screen is easy to use, with seamless connectivity to Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. This allows the user to access navigation from a smartphone and stream music on the go.
With the Toyota Connect application, users get an in-car Wi-Fi hotspot and 15GB of data. Toyota Connect also allows owners to book a service and access vehicle information.
There is plenty of space for both the front and rear passengers, with comfortable leg and head room for the average adult. The boot space gobbles up 328l of luggage with the rear seats up.
Storage space is ample, with the inclusion of a cooled compartment, which came in handy as cold drinks were part of our padkos repertoire on a weekend journey to Hartbeespoort.
Yes, it is an Urban Cruiser. But many shoppers will want to use it for countryside forays too.
The 1.5-litre, four-cylinder engine produces 77kW and 138Nm, paired with a five-speed manual (but automatic is available too). It is a relatively light vehicle (1,130kg), but power felt insufficient on open roads. In top gear it feels strained. You are better off not trying to explore the other end of 120km/h, which we were constantly reminded of when struggling to overtake.
Back in its natural habitat, the city, this Toyota is certainly more comfortable. Economy is a strong point, returning an average 6.4l/100km when driven sensibly. An automatic dimming rearview mirror and rain-sensing wipers induced a smile – nice to know such features can be had even in this segment.
Affordable cars often come with compromises and limited creature comforts.
But the Urban Cruiser seems different. It feels solid, is well-equipped and comes from a manufacturer with quite a reputation. While the Suzuki Vitara Brezza sold 390 units last month, the Urban Cruiser sat on 977.
All up to you where you spend your money, of course, but from this contrast, it is clear where South Africans are spending theirs.
1.5 Xi MT – R 247 900
1.5 Xs MT – R 267 800
1.5 Xs AT – R 289 000
1.5 Xr MT – R 294 500
1.5 Xr AT – R 315 700