We recently spent a few days driving the range-leading Toyota Urban Cruiser 1,5 Xr Auto and share with you 6 things we learned from our time together.

Toyota’s recently launched small crossover is just the latest in a plethora of similar products from just about every mainstream automaker with a presence in SA. Name a brand and chances are there’s a small crossover with that badge on its nose. However, once Toyota enters the fray most other manufacturers must wince as the Japanese automaker has a loyal following in SA along with a prominent dealer network.

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In the first three full months since introduction 2 490 Urban Cruisers have been sold locally. Some OEMs would celebrate if they attained those sales figures in a year. And that, as we are told by Toyota spokespersons, was achieved with a limited supply coming into the country. We slipped behind the wheel of the Xr derivative with automatic transmission to find out what the Urban Cruiser is all about.

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  1. It looks smaller than it is. The Urban Cruiser stands tall and wide, yet it measures under four metres in length. That means, in conjunction with the standard rear-facing camera, it is quite easy to manoeuvre and, more importantly, to park. 
  2. The cabin is roomy. We found that the Urban Cruiser feels quite roomy inside. The dark colour palette notwithstanding, there’s good width between the front passengers and a commodious boot. Toyota claims 328 litres of volume. This extends to a van-like cargo area thanks to fold flat rear seats (as pictured).
  3. The standard touchscreen infotainment system is easy to use. Some of the modern infotainment interfaces in modern cars require a great deal of time and familiarisation, a luxury one doesn’t have on a week-long loan. The system in the Cruiser is simple to connect to, and easy to use, which is handy and doesn’t take attention away from driving.
  4. It has a soft ride. Toyota usually gets ride quality right and this car is no different. There is no sporting pretense, which means the ride is soft and pleasant to all occupants.
  5. We are not fans of the choice of tyres it comes with as standard. The Cape winter brings with it rain and the associated dangers of wet roads. We found the tyres on the India-sourced Urban Cruiser not up to the challenge of drenched tar. It would be the first change we carried out if we bought one.
  6. The naturally aspirated motor needs more gears. Engines with turbochargers make loads of torque/oomph at low engine speeds, those without require lots of revs to make swift progress. We are of the firm belief that all SUVs should come with self-shifting transmission, and we applaud Toyota SA for offering the option, but times have changed and the four-speed auto feels like a throwback. With just four gears on offer there are wide gaps between the ratios, a five- or six-speeder would be far more desirable, and more fuel efficient.


After a few days of first-hand experience we can see why over 800 units per month have been sold since introduction. The Urban Cruiser offers everything that the young professional needs from a small crossover. It’s not too large, offers plenty of standard kit in Xr guise, and has a pleasant ride quality. Keen pricing – the Xr AT is the only derivative above R300 000 – that includes a three-services/45 000 km service plan and three-year/100 000 km warranty ensures that the Urban Cruiser is likely to become a very common sight on our roads in months to come.

Model: Toyota Urban Cruiser 1,5 Xr Auto
Price: R315 700
Engine: 1,5-litre inline four
Transmission: four-speed automatic, FWD
Max power: 77 kW
Max torque: 138 N.m
Top speed: 170 km/h
0-100 km/h: n/a
Fuel consumption: 6,2 L/100 km