Toyota’s smallest Cruiser impresses in a big way

Toyota launched the Urban Cruiser earlier this year, and from the first sighting, I loved its looks. But will it have the chops expected of a Toyota? 

We sampled the 1.5XR MT during our trip, and I have to say I was slightly sceptical about the little 1.5-litre engine as a proper adventure vehicle. Reading up on the specs, I noticed a towing capacity of 400km unbraked and 1 100k unbraked. Now we’re talking! After a few calls, our test unit was fitted with a tow bar and with a micro camper in tow, we headed off to the Kruger National Park.

My biggest worry was that the trailer would be bobbing and bouncing behind me, but this little trailer and the Urban Cruiser were a match made in heaven. We managed a respectable average speed of about 100km/h and a surprising frugal 8 litres/100km on the highway. Once the trailer was unhitched and driving through the Kruger, we averaged well below 7 litres/100km… This must be the most economical “Cruiser” ever built! 

The Urban Cruiser is lovely to drive. It has a solid road presence, and at some points, I had to remind myself of the size as it did not feel so small when driving it. Driving on the highway here in Gauteng, the vehicle is nippy, and it never feels like you are struggling to get going. The infotainment system is impressive, and the inclusion of two tweeter speakers gave it a sound quality that surprised me. With Apple Car Play and Android Auto, our road trip was anything but quiet!

The XR comes standard with keyless-entry with push start, electric windows, air-conditioning, tilt-adjustable steering, power-adjustable mirrors, LED headlamps and LED Daytime Running Lights (DRL). For easy manoeuvring in urban environments, Toyota has also bolted in Rear Park Distance Control (PDC). Our flagship XR model takes the premium functionality up a notch with LED fog lamps, automatic headlights, cruise control, an auto-dimming rear-view mirror, rain-sensing wipers, dual 12-volt power outlets and a leather steering wheel. The illuminated glovebox is also cooled, which allowed us to keep our drinks and snacks chilled on longer excursions through the Kruger.

What makes this vehicle special is its towing capability. You can tow with a standard B licence, which opens it up for young camping enthusiasts. Towing it was comfortable, albeit not perfect. It did struggle somewhat going uphill and through some of the mountain passes when heading back to Gauteng from the Lowveld, and at some points, we had to gear down to third gear, climbing the hills at 80km/h. 

Overall, though, we enjoyed the Urban Cruiser – available in both manual and automatic options, it is well specced, well priced and fun to drive. And with that elliptical badge on the bonnet, it will sell like hotcakes!

  • Urban Cruiser 1.5 XI MT: R247 900
  • Urban Cruiser 1.5 Xs MT: R267 800
  • Urban Cruiser 1.5 Xs AT: R289 000
  • Urban Cruiser 1.5 XR MT: R294 500
  • Urban Cruiser 1.5 XR AT: R315 700

All models include a three-services / 45 000km service plan and a 5-year / 100 000km warranty.

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