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Toyota Yaris Cross - Interior, design and technology

The Toyota Yaris Cross offers good levels of standard kit, but the cabin feels a little cheap in places

Overall Auto Express Rating

4.0 out of 5

Interior, design and technology Rating

4.0 out of 5

  • Excellent fuel economy
  • Agile handling
  • Good finance deals available
  • Tight rear cabin space
  • Feels cheap in places
  • Poor ride at higher speed
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The Toyota Yaris Cross sits on the same TNGA-B platform as the latest Yaris supermini, but being a small SUV it rides higher, has greater ground clearance, and a more rugged look. The black plastic cladding around the wheel arches adds a little extra flavour to its chunky, cross-country credentials, while stylish aluminium roof rails are standard on all but the entry Icon model. You can also specify a black roof in combination with certain body colours to add a little extra personalisation.

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The cabin of the Yaris Cross is best described as functional, because it uses the same straightforward switchgear as its supermini sister cars. In the centre of the dashboard is the touchscreen for navigation and media, with a set of physical dials for the climate control below. There are a few silver and piano-black trim accents that help to enhance the rather plain-looking interior, but otherwise, it's mostly scratchy plastics up front. The instrument panel is pretty dated too, giving the Ford Puma a serious edge in this department.

If you’re after luxuries such as heated front seats and steering wheel, dual-zone climate control, and Toyota’s Smart Connect infotainment system, you’ll need to look towards the Excel or GR Sport trim levels. That’s not to say the Icon and Design specifications are poorly equipped; each includes alloy wheels, keyless entry, adaptive cruise control and a reversing camera, while Apple CarPlay and Android Auto connectivity are also standard.

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As the name suggests, the GR Sport version gives the Yaris Cross a slightly more athletic look, but don’t be fooled into thinking it’s any faster or could be Toyota's answer to the Ford Puma ST – it’s mainly just a few styling changes and some suspension tweaks.

Sat-nav, stereo and infotainment

The infotainment system in the Yaris Cross is a significant improvement over Toyota’s previous efforts. Entry-level cars feature an eight-inch touchscreen with Toyota Touch 2, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto as standard, while higher-spec versions come with a larger nine-inch unit and Toyota’s Smart Connect system. The upgraded set-up provides live traffic information, plus shortcut buttons that allow you to locate local places of interest quickly. Pricier models also get Android Auto and wireless Apple CarPlay. Wireless phone connectivity is an improvement over the wired-only connections in the Hyundai Kona, but we’d put up with that for the latter’s much larger 12.3-inch screen and more reliable connection – we found the Yaris Cross lost connection with our phones intermittently when we tried it.

Regardless, the central touchscreen in the Yaris Cross is relatively sharp, has clear graphics and is a lot more responsive than previous Toyota media set-ups. The smaller eight-inch screen is perhaps the easiest to get on with because of the physical shortcut buttons along either side that make navigating the system easier.

Interestingly, if you add the £750 City Pack with 360-degree cameras, park assist and WiFi to higher-spec trims, the nine-inch screen is replaced by the smaller eight-inch display from the base model.

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News reporter

As our news reporter, Ellis is responsible for covering everything new and exciting in the motoring world, from quirky quadricycles to luxury MPVs. He was previously the content editor for DrivingElectric and won the Newspress Automotive Journalist Rising Star award in 2022.

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