When we were invited to test drive and review the Toyota Yaris Cross for Toyota Sunshine Coast, we jumped at the chance.  Both keen drivers, we have been closely watching the developments in the hybrid/electric vehicle market and wanted to find out more about this option. 

[This post is sponsored by Ken Mills Toyota, however the opinions expressed are our own]

Overview of our test drive and review of the Toyota Yaris Cross

We started our test drive at the Nambour dealership of Toyota Sunshine Coast, where we were given a thorough orientation of the features of the Yaris Cross. We were also provided with substantial background reading.  We left the dealership feeling excited and confident. 

Our brief was to fully test the car’s safety features, comfort, and economy, and to assess its suitability as a car for older drivers.  In order to do so, we covered a variety of terrains during our drive through the Sunshine Coast Hinterland and across to Noosa. 

Our route took us off the highway to Yandina, and then on to Eumundi, at which point we rejoined the Bruce Highway and headed towards Tewantin. From Tewantin we drove to Kin Kin where we stopped for lunch and a spot of shopping. After lunch we drove to Noosa Heads and up to Laguna Lookout. On our return to Nambour, we drove via Beddington Road to the north of Eumundi, then back via the Highway. 

This drive gave us a mix of flat and hilly conditions as well as some narrow roads and single lane bridges. Yes we tested out the brakes.

It was a fine sunny day, so we did not test the vehicle in rainy conditions.

About the Yaris Cross Range

We test drove the Toyota Yaris Cross GXL, AWD, 1.5l, Hybrid Auto CVT, delivering a none too shabby 120Nm. Weighing in at 1720kg the AWD Hybrid GXL is 120kg heavier than the 2WD model. The book price for this model is $38,799.

Ken Mills Toyota representative explains the Toyota Yaris Cross features
We were thoroughly briefed by the team at Ken Mills Toyota Nambour

The Yaris Cross range also has GX and Urban models, in a variety of colours, with some optional trim in the Urban, including leather seats. Models are 2WD, AWD with a 1.5L Hybrid or a 1.5L Petrol motor with standard Auto CVT (continuously variable transmission).

For those of you, like us, who have not enjoyed the hybrid experience before, you can find the lack of any sound on startup initially a little unnerving, but you get used to using your eyes, not your ears to detect very quickly that all systems are go!

Another interesting Hybrid feature is the gear shift, P, R, N. D. B.

B? We asked?

On cruise control, the electric motor offers no resistance to a downhill roll so will not maintain speed controls, but engage B (for Brake) and the motor is engaged, so while your cruise control brakes you, power is generated into the battery. Smart huh?

We don’t want neck snapping acceleration, but with an expected 4ltrs/100kms fuel economy, and plenty of practical power,  we say yes please!

The Yaris Cross comes with a 5 year warranty, with 10 years warranty on the battery. You can read more details in this brochure

The safety features make this a great car for older drivers, and for younger drivers too

Features like adaptive (or dynamic) cruise control, which not so long ago was the preserve of much more expensive European models, is standard in the Yaris Cross. Add Lane Tracing Assist (LTA), SOS Emergency Call and Automatic Collision Notification (ACN) and you are right up there with safety features and the assurance, if caught in a sticky situation or an accident by yourself, that you are not alone. A back to Toyota contact service is either user activated or automatically activated when the vehicle is subjected to considerable impact. You have total control over the use of these features, but to our mind being able to have your vehicle tracked if reported stolen is a very positive feature, as is the single button SOS Emergency Call feature. 

All Wheel Drive (AWD) is like being stuck to the road (but in a good way) ; the Yaris Cross AWD is a sure footed pleasure, up hill and down dale, it makes the driving experience relaxed and easy. We did a little work in stop-start traffic, through intersections, stop and give way signs, and felt confident when pulling into traffic that we were off the mark and on our way quickly. We also found, inadvertently, as we rounded a corner in the Noosa hinterland onto a narrow single lane bridge, that the ABS works just fine; particularly when someone else beats you to the bridge!

Our Yaris Cross also had optionally activated Lane Tracing Assist (LTA) which we thought may be a little too robotic for comfort. But no, it’s a gentle assistance that directs you between the two white lines that border road edges and lanes. A gentle non-visual, non-audio reminder which keeps you on the straight and narrow through your hands on the wheel. This canny feature disables when you use an indicator to change lanes. 

The feeling of stability, acceleration, control and overall comfort in the Yaris Cross was very respectable. Additional features like the SatNav and parking vision control, added to the experience of comfort and confidence. The backing camera and all-round vision – as though there was a drone hovering above the vehicle – allows an easy entry into those sometimes all too tiny car parking spaces.

Style and Comfort 

Woman easily getting out of the Toyota Yaris Cross
The car is the perfect height for easy entry and exit and has great head room as well

There are a good range of standard colours and we drove the Mineral Blue vehicle, the colour that immediately took my eye when I saw the options. In the GXL model this came with cloth seats. The hybrid also has 16″ alloy wheels, adding to the sporty look. 

With bad backs and being relatively tall, we are both very conscious of comfort and accessibility. The Yaris Cross is just that bit higher than your usual sedan, which makes getting in and out that much easier, allowing a straightforward slide into the seats. But it isn’t as high as many SUVs which require a climb into the vehicle, it is the perfect height. It also has very good internal head room, mitigating the need for contortions getting in and out of the seats. And due to that extra height, loading and unloading the boot is easy on the back. Before this test drive, we thought the Yaris was a small car! In so many ways, it’s big.

Man loading soil into the boot of a Toyota Yaris Cross SUV from Ken Mills Toyota
The extra height of the Yaris Cross boot makes for easy loading and unloading of goods

We drove for nearly 3 hours, and the seats themselves were a comfortable fit, conducive to our extended drive time. We always know a good seat when we get out of a car without our backs feeling sore, and that was definitely the case with the Yaris Cross.

We also felt cool inside the car, despite it being a hot day. The air conditioning was effective and comfortable, and easily adjusted to our requirements. 

The touchscreen display is well positioned to avoid unnecessary reflection and awkward light angles, which means you can see it very clearly. Connectivity and multimedia options abound with USB, Bluetooth®, voice command recognition etc., it’s all there and plus some added Toyota specialities. Yes, you can even connect your Apple Watch.

Golf clubs and picnic basket both fit easily in the Toyota Yaris Cross
Yes your golf clubs will fit in the boot, and a picnic basked as well

We took along the golf clubs and a picnic basket, which were quite at home in a surprisingly spacious boot which also affords the option of push-forward seating to give a very deep space through into the back seat area.

Dealing with Ken Mills Toyota

Ken Mills Toyota has dealerships at both Maroochydore and Nambour, making them an ideal Company to do business with on the Sunshine Coast. We found the Nambour team friendly and knowledgable – from the service team (we entered through the wrong door and were personally guided to the sales area), to the sales team who provided our orientation. Every question was answered and we were given a mobile phone number in case we had questions along the way. We couldn’t recommend them highly enough.

So, should you buy a Toyota Yaris Cross?

This feature-packed beauty is a must drive for the young at heart mature driver who is keen to use all the technology features the Yaris provides, for pleasure and legendary Toyota safety. Add in the incredible economy of the hybrid system and that ten year battery warranty, and this vehicle is a great investment. But don’t overlook that this is a fun car to drive and it has good looks to boot (pun intended).

We were already familiar, from our current cars, with some of the safety features that are standard in the Yaris Cross, but were very pleasantly surprised by our driving experience and the added extras. There is no doubt that the Yaris Cross will be a serious contender when we next purchase a car.

Have you driven a Toyota Yaris Cross? Is a hybrid vehicle in your future? What safety features do you think are important in selecting the best cars for seniors?

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