The new Toyota BZ4X on test for Changing Lanes

Toyota BZ4X Review

Read Caroline’s Toyota bZ4X review for everything you need to know about buying Toyota’s electric crossover in Ireland.

Over the coming years Toyota looks set to launch a number of full battery electric vehicles under its new bZ 'beyond zero' sub-brand of zero emission vehicles.

The first of those to reach Ireland is the Toyota bZ4X, a mid-size crossover of similar size to the long-standing RAV4. It goes on sale from €50,075, which on price positions it between the RAV4 hybrid and the RAV4 plug-in hybrid.

Toyota of course has a lot of history in battery technology and electrification, being a pioneer of hybrid technology since the 1990s.

These days the brand sells a huge amount of hybrid cars in Ireland like the Corolla, Yaris Cross and C-HR.

So how well does it make full battery electric vehicles?

I spent some time with the new bZ4X to find out!

The new Toyota BZ4X on test for Changing Lanes
The new Toyota bZ4X on test for Changing Lanes

Styling

The bZ4X was built from a partnership with Subaru and features some very edgy and futuristic styling. If you ever wondered what an electric RAV4 might look like, this is surely it. It's a bit lower than the RAV4 with a sleeker, more crossover style. It gets the brand's new 'hammerhead' design theme, just like the newly launched Toyota Prius and C-HR. Slim LED headlights at the front accentuate its contemporary style. There is extensive use of plastic cladding around the wheel arches, which does make it very distinct. It's not the prettiest vehicle in the world but certainly something different - from Ireland's bestselling car brand in 2023 - to rivals like the Kia EV6, Hyundai Ioniq 6 and Volkswagen ID.4. 18-inch alloy wheels come as standard, which enhance the chunky style of the bZ4X. The rear styling is quite adventurous for Toyota with a split rear spoiler and full width light bar. There is no rear windscreen wiper - said to improve aerodynamics - but leaves and other grime do have a tendency to stick.

Interior

The interior design of the bZ4X is quite a departure for the Toyota brand yet feels grown-up and a tad more futuristic than models like the Toyota RAV4 and Camry. There is a high centre console to separate you from your passenger with a neat storage compartment for a mobile phone that doubles as a wireless charger and a gorgeously tactile dial to select your drive mode. The large touchscreen is another highlight. The clear menus and combination of buttons underneath make it easy to interact with. There's also seamless integration with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto.

The cabin of the bZ4X
The cabin of the bZ4X

The driving position requires a little bit of patience to get comfortable with a less than typical Toyota arrangement that sees the driver looking over the steering wheel at the digital instrument binnacle. Still, there's a solid feel to the cabin that feels very familiar Toyota and some interesting woven fabric trim. The half cloth/synthetic leather seats also add plushness. Worth noting there's no glovebox but there is quite a large storage space under the centre console. Sport models are the sweet spot of the range with the largest touchscreen, heated steering wheel, heated front seats and power adjustment for the driver.

Practicality

The bZ4X offers a 452 litre boot, which is not the biggest among rivals but is actually very well-designed. The opening is wide and there's a low, flat sill for easy loading. There's also a small underfloor storage compartment for the charging cables. Sport models come with a powered tailgate. The bZ4X has a longer wheelbase than a RAV4 so the back seat feels roomy too with large footwells. But the floor is quite high to accommodate the battery underneath so it lacks some thigh support for more comfort for adult passengers.

Battery

The bZ4X uses a 71kWh battery (64kWh usable), with an official range of 505 kilometres (WLTP) for front wheel drive models and 461 kilometres for the all wheel drive. The official consumption figure is about 14.7kWh though in real world driving this was closer to 17.6kWh, which gave me a real world range closer to 364 kilometres. When serviced with a Toyota dealer, the brand is offering up to 10yrs or 1 million kilometres EV Battery Extended Care in addition to the standard 8 years/160,000 km EV Battery Warranty.

The Toyota bZ4X is a mid-size electric crossover
The Toyota bZ4X is a mid-size electric crossover

Driving

On test for Changing Lanes was the single motor, front wheel drive bZ4X Sport model with 204hp and 265Nm of torque for a 0-100 time of 7.5 seconds. Built on a bespoke electric vehicle platform shared with the Subaru Solterra, it feels delightfully swift and agile on the road with a low centre of gravity and quick, precise steering making it one of the best of its kind for handling over a variety of roads. The comfort the suspension offers is also one of the highlights, with the bZ4X avoiding the stiffness of some electric crossovers and SUVs. Less appealing is the persistent road noise that finds its way into the cabin, though there's little wind or electric motor noise. There's a standard and Eco driving mode that dulls the responsiveness of the vehicle to encourage more range-friendly driving. There's also a button to increase regenerative braking but there's no one-pedal driving function like in some other EVs that allows the car to be controlled from just the accelerator pedal.

Subaru lent their all wheel drive expertise to the project. While the brand offers its Solterra sister car as all wheel drive only, Toyota offers its bZ4X with the choice of front wheel drive or all wheel drive. Unless you need more traction for frequent inclement weather and tricky roads and terrain, the front wheel drive model offers the best range and efficiency. However in real world driving Toyota's range figure seems overly optimistic, with this test driver achieving closer to 364 kilometres in winter weather.

Charging

There's a standard fit 11kW onboard AC charger and DC fast charging is possible up to 150kW for an 80% charge in about 45 minutes.

Boot space in the bZ4X
Boot space in the bZ4X

Pricing

The 2024 Toyota bZ4X Sport is available from €50,075.

Verdict

Toyota has seemingly been slow to bring a full battery electric vehicle to market, and the bZ4X appears somewhat fashionably late to the party. It is competitive however in the overall packaging of the car and the price. It's a sign of good things to come from the Toyota brand in electric vehicles, after reigning supreme in hybrid vehicles for so long.

The bZ4X is not perfectly executed with a few foibles, but in other areas like comfort and handling it really excels giving an overall good impression of the car. The real world range is a little more average but for many it's just enough really. In the end it's the reassuring quality and solidness that makes Toyota one of Ireland's best loved brands that will make the bZ4X a sound companion for those ready to take the next step from hybrid to full battery electric.

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Written by Caroline Kidd

Founder and Editor of Changing Lanes, Juror for Irish Car of the Year

The Toyota bZ4X is available in Ireland now
The Toyota bZ4X is available in Ireland now

The 2024 Toyota C-HR

Toyota C-HR Review (2024)

Read Caroline's 2024 Toyota C-HR review for everything you need to know about buying Toyota's trendy hybrid compact crossover in Ireland.

The Toyota C-HR has been a big success for Toyota Ireland since it first launched here at the end of 2016. The stylish coupé-crossover has been a consistent bestseller, with over 15,000 sold in Ireland to date.

The new C-HR aims to build on the success of the first with a bold new design and even more efficient hybrid technology.

It goes on sale from about €40,000 and is available to test drive in dealers now with first customer deliveries expected from January 2024.

The 2024 Toyota C-HR
The 2024 Toyota C-HR is on sale now from Toyota's Irish dealer network

Styling

The C-HR was always the style icon of the Toyota range. This new one brings it to the next level with a striking new front end, more pronounced character lines and some very dramatic bi-tone colour options that extend into the rear of the car for the very first time.

The C-HR sits alongside the newly launched Corolla Cross in Toyota's mid-size crossover offering. However, the C-HR is designed to stand out and yes it does! At the front, the new slim LED headlights give C-HR the new family face of Toyota, like the latest Prius and BZ4X. There are some sharper character lines along the side of the car. At the back there are new horizontal lights that give a dramatic light bar effect with a special 'Toyota C-HR' illumination in the middle that lights up when you lock and unlock the vehicle.

There are a range of colours available, with Sport+ and Sol models coming with a very trendy black contrast roof. Go for the top of the range Premiere Edition or GR Sport Premiere Edition and the contrast black is extended into the rear of the car. Alloy wheel sizes vary from 18- to 20-inch. New flush door handles and a split roof spoiler add to the C-HR's aerodynamic efficiency.

Interior

The cabin has matured very nicely for this new generation of C-HR. It feels like a bigger, more substantial car from behind the wheel. There's a pleasant mix of digital features, good quality plastics, plush materials and a classic solid Toyota feel. Fabric sports seats come as standard but going up the trim levels adds more suede finish and vegan leather trim. There's a fabulous new digital instrument panel and new steering wheel. An 8-inch touchscreen is standard on the entry level Sport model with wireless Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. But all other versions get a very impressive 12-inch screen. Ventilation is adjusted from a row of buttons beneath the screen.

The cabin of the 2024 Toyota C-HR
The cabin of the 2024 Toyota C-HR

Other standard features include parking sensors, reversing camera, heated front seats, keyless entry and dual zone climate control. Sport+ adds wireless smartphone charging and a panoramic glass roof. The Toyota Safety Sense 3 suite of safety equipment comes as standard with features like blind spot monitoring, lane departure alert with steering control and safe exit assist.

Practicality

The C-HR hasn't changed much in size but it still offers adequate accommodation for a trendy crossover. The boot is a small bit bigger than before at 388 litres in the 1.8-litre hybrid and 364 litres in the 2.0-litre hybrid. That's about on par with the average hatchback. But it is well designed with a wide opening and the availability of a powered tailgate. The rear seats can also split fold 60:40.

Legroom and headroom is good enough in the back for a car of this size. Toyota has also removed the kink from the window line so it feels brighter and more family-friendly than before. It's snug and comfortable. There's no centre armrest but there is a cupholder in each door and one USB-C port for back seat passengers.

Engines

After Corolla and Corolla Cross earlier this year, Toyota's new fifth generation hybrid now makes its debut in the C-HR range. There are 1.8 and 2.0-litre petrol electric hybrids available. It has more compact parts to save weight and improve efficiency. The 1.8-litre is expected to be the biggest seller. Power is up from 122hp to 140hp, with 0-100 km/h completed in a reasonable 9.9 seconds. Toyota quotes fuel consumption of about 4.8 litres per 100 kilometres for this model. There's also a more powerful 2.0-litre hybrid with 198hp and fuel consumption rated at 4.9 litres per 100 kilometres.

A 2.0-litre C-HR plug-in hybrid is expected to arrive in the summer of 2024.

The C-HR is available with choice of hybrid engines
The C-HR is available with a choice of hybrid engines

Driving

The new C-HR is built on an upgraded GA-C platform from Toyota with improvements to the suspension, steering and brakes. The controls all work well together and the car has a solid, cohesive feel on the road. It's easy to control, with a wider track and lots of front end grip giving it a secure and planted feel through bends. On the Spanish roads of my test route, the C-HR was a mature and comfortable drive. There's not too much road or wind noise either.

There are a few different driving modes like Normal, Sport, Eco and Custom, which alter the driving experience somewhat. There's also a B mode to increase regenerative braking.

Like other Toyota hybrids, the C-HR uses an e-CVT automatic gearbox. It still can get quite noisy under hard acceleration but can be avoided with a gentler use of the accelerator. It's a hybrid that is more geared towards efficiency and that's where the C-HR really excels, with consumption as low as 4.4 litres per 100 kilometres during my test drive.

Pricing

The 2024 Toyota C-HR range starts from €40,250 for the 1.8 Sport model. Sport+ starts from €42,920 and Sol from €45,010. The Premiere Edition is priced from €49,940 and the GR Sport Premiere Edition from €52,500. Both come with the more powerful 2.0-litre hybrid.

Rear seating in the C-HR
Rear seating in the C-HR

Verdict

The Toyota C-HR was always the style icon of the Toyota range. The new version takes that to the next level with even bolder styling and paint options.

It is a super stylish crossover that really does stand out against rival crossovers and SUVs. For outright space, some rivals offer a little more but the C-HR still feels roomy enough inside to be practical.

A mature feel pervades this car now, from the finish of the interior to the way it covers the road. The handling is very good though the hybrid drive is best suited to more efficient than sporty driving.

It has gone up in price but then again the new C-HR is more than the car it started out as. It is exceptionally well-equipped and loaded with lots of standard safety features and digital tech.

Overall, Toyota has once again created a stand-out car in the C-HR that will please the style-conscious and be incredibly efficient to run too.

____________________________

Written by Caroline Kidd

Founder and Editor of Changing Lanes, Juror for Irish Car of the Year

The Toyota C-HR is a super stylish crossover that's incredibly efficient too
The Toyota C-HR is a super stylish crossover that's incredibly efficient too

WATCH A VIDEO OF THE NEW C-HR!


The new Toyota Prius Plug-in Hybrid on test for Changing Lanes

Toyota Prius Plug-in Hybrid Review (2023)

Read Caroline's Toyota Prius plug-in hybrid review for everything you need to know about buying Toyota's new hybrid car in Ireland.

The Toyota Prius is an icon of the Toyota range. Over 5 million have been sold worldwide. It's where hybrid began for the Japanese car brand over 25 years ago.

Since then, Toyota has become synonymous with hybrid technology and its range of cars are among Ireland's bestsellers like the Corolla, Yaris Cross and C-HR.

For a long time the Prius was the world's most famous hybrid car. But it wasn't always the prettiest.

Until now.

The new Toyota Prius Plug-in Hybrid on test for Changing Lanes
The new Toyota Prius Plug-in Hybrid on test for Changing Lanes

What's so special about the Toyota Prius?

The new Prius goes on sale priced from €45,900 so it is more expensive to buy than before. However it's now exclusively sold as a plug-in hybrid in Ireland with the ability to drive on electric power only for up to 71 kilometres, otherwise enjoyed as a fuel-sipping hybrid.

This is a gorgeous car. The Prius has been completely reimagined for this new fifth generation model. The iconic wedge shape is still apparent but it's been honed and toned into something entirely beautiful and eye-catching.

Shorter and lower than the car it replaces but with a longer wheelbase, the design is hugely aerodynamic to boost efficiency. Finished in charming Tokyo Gold, the Prius can turn heads in appreciation.

19-inch alloy wheels come as standard with LED lighting adding a stylish flourish to the design. Hidden rear door handles give a coupé-like profile.

The cabin of the new Prius
The cabin of the new Prius

Inside the Prius

The new cabin is less futuristic than the previous version, with a more mature and upmarket feel.

There's a new steering wheel, digital driver display and large touchscreen in the centre of the dash with over the air updates, Apple CarPlay/Android Auto and voice control.

Ambient lighting adds a premium touch while there are good quality soft touch materials in the dashboard. The harder plastics in the doors and centre console let down the side a bit.

High-end features include heated and ventilated front seats, digital rear view camera and lots of standard safety equipment.

Three will fit across the rear bench with generous legroom though headroom is not the most generous due to the sloping roofline.

A powered tailgate comes as standard and opens to reveal 284 litres. That doesn't sound like much but in reality it will swallow up a few suitcases but buyers looking for a bigger boot would best be looking at a Corolla Touring Sports, Corolla Cross or RAV4.

The new Prius Plug-in Hybrid can drive up to 71 kilometres on electric drive alone
The new Prius Plug-in Hybrid can drive up to 71 kilometres on electric drive alone

Driving the Prius Plug-in Hybrid

The new Prius is built on the second generation of Toyota's GA-C platform of the Toyota New Global Architecture. It handles the road with some real elegance, feeling neat and well-balanced through bends. The steering is also well-weighted, keeping the driver connected to the driving experience.

The plug-in hybrid uses a new generation of Toyota hybrid with lighter and more compact parts. At its heart, there is a 2.0-litre petrol engine, a small capacity battery and an electric motor feeding power to the front wheels.

There is 223hp in this new model, which is considerably more than the previous Prius plug-in hybrid. 0-100 is just 6.8 seconds so there is plenty of power when you need it. The Prius is smooth and agile to drive though it's not one that encourages you to drive quickly. The eCVT transmission gets a bit noisy during enthusiastic driving, even in the Sport mode.

It is much better enjoyed at a more relaxed pace where it proves exceptionally efficient. Even without plugging in to charge the battery, the new Prius can easily achieve 4.5 litres per 100 kilometres in fuel consumption. Truly exceptional.

Boot space in the new Prius
Boot space in the new Prius

Wind noise is relatively subdued but there is some persistent road noise.

There's a 3.3 kW on-board charger, which can top up the battery in four hours from a wallbox or 6 hours from a socket at home.

Did you like it?

The new Toyota Prius is a truly desirable car for its good looks. It marks a new chapter for the Prius and a very good-looking one at that.

It's also exceptionally efficient and the plug-in hybrid gives the driver the option to run this car on electricity alone for a limited range that may particularly suit urban dwellers.

However this is not a cheap car and cabin quality is a bit patchy in places, while for some it just may not be practical enough.

But if you're enthralled by driving one of the world's most iconic cars with  serious eye-catching good looks, then the Prius is a reliably efficient companion.

Model tested: Toyota Prius Plug-in Hybrid
Price: 
€45,900
Engine:
2.0-litre petrol electric hybrid
Power: 223 hp
Torque: 208 Nm
Acceleration (0-100 km/h): 6.8 seconds
Motor Tax: 
€140 per year

____________________________

Written by Caroline Kidd

Founder and Editor of Changing Lanes, Juror for Irish Car of the Year

The new Prius is a stunning hybrid hatchback
The Toyota Prius is a stunning hybrid hatchback

The Toyota Hilux on test for Changing Lanes

Toyota Hilux GR Sport Review

Read Caroline's Toyota Hilux GR Sport review for everything you need to know about buying Toyota's iconic pick-up truck in Ireland.

The Toyota Hilux is one of the world's most famous pick-up trucks. It's been on sale since the late 1960s and is known for its toughness and durability.

Now Toyota Ireland has introduced a new top-of-the-range Hilux GR Sport, which takes inspiration from Toyota's 'Gazoo Racing' motorsport division and celebrates the success of the Hilux in the Dakar Rally - one of the world's toughest off-road races.

The GR Sport gets more than just a cosmetic update with some new suspension tuning for a sportier ride. So is it the pick of the bunch?

The Toyota Hilux on test for Changing Lanes
The Toyota Hilux on test for Changing Lanes

Styling

The GR Sport is available in double cab versions of the Hilux only and gives Toyota's famous pick-up a subtle makeover. But it's enough to grab some attention, particularly finished in pearlescent white. This paint colour contrasts nicely with the cladding that adorns the Hilux, the extra wide wheel surrounds and the GR Sport’s bespoke shocks and springs finished in bright red.

Toyota's GR badging on the grille, side and tailgate hints at something a little sportier and more exclusive. Just like the fourth gen Hilux from the early 80s, T-O-Y-O-T-A is spelt out across the front grille with a unique carbon-fibre effect finish to it on closer inspection. The front fog light surrounds are also larger. GR Sport models come with bi-tone 17-inch alloy wheels with a machined finish and all-terrain tyres.

The Hilux may not have the bling factor like a Ford Ranger Raptor but it still commands a silent respect on the road. It is one of the most recognisable of pick-ups.

Interior

The cabin has been given a GR Sport makeover that makes it genuinely feel more special and upmarket than the rest of the Hilux range. The seats deserve a special mention, finished in black leather and synthetic suede with contrast red detailing and GR Sport branding. The dashboard has the same logical layout as the rest but is spiced up with more contrast red and carbon fibre style trim. The build is reassuringly rock solid and should stand the test of time. Other bespoke features include sporty aluminium pedals and a special finish to the driver’s instrument cluster with GR logo.

The cabin of the Hilux GR Sport
The cabin of the Hilux GR Sport

There's lots of equipment included as standard like push-button start, dual-zone air conditioning, cruise control, reversing camera and heated front seats. There's also an 8-inch touchscreen but it uses an older system than some of the brand's latest models like the Corolla so it does look quite old-fashioned. But with wired Apple CarPlay and Android Auto connectivity included as standard, it becomes much better to use.

Practicality

In the back there's space for three however the middle seat is quite small so two adults will probably be most comfortable, or a few children.

When it comes to load lugging, there's no compomises if you for for the GR Sport. Like the rest of the range, the payload is one tonne and it can tow braked trailers up to 3.5 tonnes.

There are options available like a hard top, roll covers, towing hitch and storage boxes.

Engines

The GR Sport uses the same 2.8-litre diesel engine as some other models in the Hilux range. There's 204hp and 500Nm of torque. It's not a complete powerhouse but it's well up to the job. It's reasonably refined too - though you will know you're driving a diesel. The Hilux settles down well to a cruise on the motorway. Consumption hovers around 9 litres per 100 kilometres in steady driving, which is probably as good as it gets.

Rear seating in the Toyota Hilux
Rear seating in the Toyota Hilux

Driving

Toyota has made a few adjustments to the Hilux GR Sport's suspension for a bit more rally-inspired performance. It gets stiffer front springs and new monotube shock absorbers for more control, responsiveness and grip feel compared to other models in the range. The GR Sport certainly feels more precise and athletic from behind the wheel for such a large vehicle. It's easy to keep it in lane on the motorway and it doesn't feel too big or unwieldy down a country road either. In fact you can hustle the Hilux along with some style. The downside is that the suspension now picks up every imperfection in the road surface, which can result in quite a firm and bouncy ride depending on the tarmac quality.

When it comes to off-roading, there's a switchable four-wheel drive system including a low speed four-wheel drive mode with low gear ratios for very challenging terrain. Ground clearance is the same as the rest of the range at 310mm, as are the approach and departure angles (29° and 26°). The wading depth is 700mm. Other features include an automatic limited slip differential that improves traction and acceleration on low-grip surfaces and Downhill Assist Control. A reassuring companion for any off-road driving!

Pricing

The Hilux range starts from €34,980 for a basic single cab model. Double cab models start from €42,595. The GR Sport sits at the top of the range above the Hilux Invincible and is priced from €59,610.

The Hilux GR Sport adds style and sportiness to the range
The Hilux GR Sport adds style and sportiness to the range

Verdict 

Pick-ups are usually bought as working vehicles but in recent years they have become more style-conscious, with a market developing for high-end models like the Ford Ranger Raptor and high-spec versions of the Volkswagen Amarok. The new Hilux GR Sport aims to capture some of that market.

It certainly has kerb appeal and the finish of the cabin is impeccable. It genuinely feels special inside and comes very well-equipped. Despite the suspension upgrades, the GR Sport remains a good working vehicle with the same towing capacity and payload as the rest of the Hilux range. While the GR Sport handles the road well, it's not the most comfortable of the range. If that's a priority, you might be better served by one of the other models in the Hilux range.

____________________________

Written by Caroline Kidd

Founder and Editor of Changing Lanes, Juror for Irish Car of the Year


The new Toyota C-HR will arrive in Ireland in early 2024

Toyota C-HR Preview (2024)

The new Toyota C-HR is expected in Ireland in early 2024. The second generation of Toyota's trendy compact SUV gets a bold new look, more power, and plug-in hybrid technology for the very first time, as well as lots of new equipment features.

The C-HR slots into the Toyota range as a stylish C-segment coupé-crossover between the popular Yaris Cross and Corolla Cross.

The first generation C-HR has been a huge success in Ireland. It's a consistent bestseller with over 15,000 models registered here since the end of 2016, when it first went on sale.

Caroline travelled to Hamburg with Toyota Ireland for a closer look.

The new Toyota C-HR will arrive in Ireland in early 2024
The new Toyota C-HR will arrive in Ireland in early 2024

What does it look like?

The 2024 Toyota C-HR gets a radical new front-end with Toyota's new 'hammerhead shark' design language characterised by new slim C-shaped headlights. It looks bold and futuristic and gives the C-HR a resemblance to other new Toyotas like the latest Prius and bZ4x. Wheel sizes are available up to 20-inch and the top-of-the-range GR Sport models get some bespoke sporty trim elements.

Toyota’s design and aero teams worked closely together in the C-HR's development to make the car aerodynamically efficient and look good while slicing through the air too. New aerodynamic features include flush door handles for the very time on a Toyota and two winglets in the roof spoiler.

A black contrast roof will be available as before and there's a new option to extend the contrast paint colour down into the rear bumper for a dramatic two-tone effect. At the back there's a new full width light bar with Toyota C-HR illuminated in the centre - an impressive detail!

The cabin of the 2024 Toyota C-HR
The cabin of the 2024 Toyota C-HR

What's it like inside?

There's a brand-new cabin with a more mature design and plusher materials. Toyota has increased the number of recycled plastics used in the new generation of the C-HR and there's also animal-free leather available. There's more in-car tech than before too with a new digital instrument cluster and Toyota's newest touchscreen (8-inch or 12.3-inch) with over-the-air software updates. There's also wireless Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, and wireless smartphone charging. The cabin wraps around the driver for a snug feel. It's a coupé-crossover after all! It feels a bit more stylish and upmarket inside than the Corolla or the Corolla Cross.

The C-HR is more about style than practicality but Toyota has given this one a bigger boot. It feels a bit brighter and more family-friendly in the back because the rear window line doesn't taper off as sharply, letting a little more light into the rear of the cabin.

The C-HR gets the option of a dramatic new two-tone paint finish
The C-HR gets the option of a dramatic new two-tone paint finish

What's under the bonnet?

The next C-HR will use Toyota's fifth generation hybrid like the Prius, Corolla and Corolla Cross, with more compact parts to save weight and improve efficiency. There will be the choice of 1.8-litre (140hp) or 2.0-litre (198hp) hybrid, with fuel consumption quoted as low as 4.8 litres per 100 kilometres.

The new C-HR 2.0-litre plug-in hybrid will be the most powerful of the range with 223hp and an EV driving range of up to 66 kilometres.

Will it be good to drive?

Likely, yes. The current C-HR is already one of the most fun to drive of Toyota's compact cars and SUVs. The 2024 model is built on the second generation of the GA-C platform and promises to be even more comfortable and engaging to drive thanks to updates to the suspension, steering and brakes. C-HR was tested on the famous Nurburgring to hone its driving dynamics and has a wider track than before to improve handling. Toyota says there has also been improvements to refinement.

Pricing and equipment will be announced closer to launch of new C-HR in Ireland
Dramatic coupé-crossover styling for the new C-HR

Anything else? 

Some of the new features include a digital key that allows the car to be unlocked from a smartphone. There's also ambient lighting with up to 64 colours that also enhances safety by changing to red to warn of a door being opened when there is a risk of collision with traffic or cyclists.

How much will it cost? 

Pricing and equipment will be announced closer to launch.

Caroline Kidd


The 2023 Toyota Corolla on test for Changing Lanes!

Toyota Corolla Review (2023)

Read Caroline's Toyota Corolla review for everything you need to know about buying the popular hatchback in Ireland in 2023.

The Toyota Corolla has been updated for 2023 with some updates to the styling and the interior. But the big news is that the Corolla also now gets Toyota's latest fifth generation hybrid with numerous improvements.

The Corolla is of course one of Ireland's bestselling cars. The current generation Corolla launched here in 2019 and became a bestseller very quickly.

Available as a hatchback, saloon or estate (Touring Sports) and exclusively hybrid, the Corolla has a lot to offer customers looking for a simple, efficient car.

Pricing starts from €32,685 for the hatchback, while the saloon is available from €33,435 and the Touring Sports from €34,245.

The 2023 Toyota Corolla on test for Changing Lanes!
The 2023 Toyota Corolla on test for Changing Lanes!

What's new for the 2023 Toyota Corolla?

All versions of the Corolla get some subtly updated styling for the 2023 model year. The Corolla hatchback is designed to be the sportiest of the trio and still looks great - modern and high-tech.

Toyota has introduced a new J-shaped lighting signature in the headlight clusters, while there's now a different pattern to the mesh grill. There are also new bumpers and fog lamp bezels, as well as some additional silver trim at the rear.

There are also new colours like Juniper Blue and new alloy wheel designs.

In Ireland the hatchback is available in Luna, Luna Sport or GR Sport trim lines. 16-inch alloy wheels come as standard but Luna Sport (from €36,880) seems like the sweet spot of the range with stylish 17-inch alloys and a sporty black contrast roof.

GR Sport models are inspired by Toyota's Gazoo Racing motorsport division and sit at the top of the range (from €38,955) with 18-inch alloy wheels, sportier bumpers, and GR badges.

But it's the cabin that really benefits from this update.

Toyota has made a few updates to the Corolla for 2023
Toyota has made a few updates to the Corolla for 2023

Inside the Corolla

The Corolla's cabin gets a digital makeover for 2023 and it really makes a difference. There's a new digital instrument cluster for the driver as standard.

There's also a larger touchscreen than before with more modern graphics and a simpler interface. Apple CarPlay and Android Auto come as standard, as do over-the-air updates for the very first time.

Toyota has also upgraded some of the materials for example there are new upholsteries including the Luna Sport's new stylish fabric seats with leather-effect bolsters.

The soft-touch materials on the dashboard look plusher than before and overall the cabin feels very solid and well-built - one of the best of the compact class.

Standard features include dual zone climate control, reversing camera and Toyota Safety Sense suite of safety and driver assistance features with new and enhanced features. The Luna Sport adds heated front seats and electric lumbar support for the driver. Top-of-the-range GR Sport models also get wireless smartphone charging and front sports seats.

The cabin of the 2023 Toyota Corolla hatchback
The cabin of the 2023 Toyota Corolla hatchback

Is it practical?

The Corolla will seat five but does feel more cramped in the back than a Ford Focus for example, so there is less legroom to really stretch out. The Corolla Touring Sports and Saloon both sit on a longer wheelbase so do feel more spacious in the back.

The Corolla hatchback has 361 litres of boot space, which is fine but some rivals do offer more like the Opel Astra with 422 litres.

The Touring Sports is the best for practicality with a 589 litre boot, while the saloon manages 471 litres.

Driving the Corolla Hybrid

Toyota's fifth generation hybrid has lighter and more compact parts, a new battery and lower emissions than ever before. But the brand has also managed to squeeze out more power from the 1.8-litre petrol electric hybrid, up from 122hp to 140hp. Responsiveness and drivability have also been improved.

The 2.0-litre hybrid will no longer be offered in the Corolla in Ireland. But that's not an issue because the 1.8 hybrid suits the car perfectly. There's plenty of power and the Corolla is a little quicker than before with 0-100km/h in 9.1 seconds. It's very responsive, with a Sport mode offering even livelier feel.

Boot space in the Corolla hatchback
Boot space in the Corolla hatchback

The Corolla grips the road well and handles with ease, while proving to be comfortable over all sorts of Irish roads. The refinement and smooth delivery of power from the hybrid gives this car a mature feel.

When it comes to efficiency, the Corolla consistently returns good fuel economy. It's possible to achieve the official consumption figure of 4.7 litres per 100 kilometres, particularly in low speed town driving where the Corolla frequently runs in EV mode on battery power alone.

Did you like it?

It's an easy 'Yes' from me for the new Corolla. Toyota has made a good car even better with this latest update.

The Corolla looks great in Luna Sport trim and benefits from all those little enhancements to the interior like the larger touchscreen and digital instrument cluster. The cabin feels more modern and stylish now, which gives it a bit more longevity in the market.

Toyota's hybrid is as good as ever and works particularly well in the Corolla, delivering consistently good fuel economy and a nicely refined drive and throttle response.

The hatchback is a little compromised when it comes to rear legroom, though some of the other models in the range have the advantage there.

But overall this is a fine hatchback and one of the best of the genre.

Model tested: Toyota Corolla Hatchback Luna Sport
Price:
€36,880
Engine:
1.8-litre petrol-electric hybrid
Power: 140hp
Torque: 185Nm
Acceleration (0-100 km/h): 9.1 seconds
Motor Tax: 
€180 per year

____________________________

Written by Caroline Kidd

Founder and Editor of Changing Lanes, Juror for Irish Car of the Year

The 2023 Toyota Corolla is on sale now
The 2023 Toyota Corolla is on sale now

The new Toyota Corolla Cross on test for Changing Lanes!

Toyota Corolla Cross Review

Read Caroline's Toyota Corolla Cross review for everything you need to know about buying Toyota's new mid-size SUV in Ireland.

Toyota has been on a journey with hybrid technology for over 25 years since the pioneering Toyota Prius of the 1990s. The Japanese brand's punt on hybrid has really paid off with Toyota firmly grabbing hold of the title of bestselling car brand in Ireland in 2023 and not really letting go at all.

The brand's drive to the top has been supported by a number of bestsellers - the Yaris, the Yaris Cross, the C-HR, the Corolla, and the RAV4. There's a Toyota for every part of the market. The brand has also successfully jumped on the trend for crossovers and SUVs.

While Toyota is only launching the bZ4X now, their first full battery electric vehicle, they have taken over the market for hybrid. For good reason - their cars are some of the most efficient on the road today.

The latest model to hit Irish shores is the new Toyota Corolla Cross, the SUV version of the popular Corolla. Priced from €38,910, it fills a gap in the Toyota range for a practical, mid-size SUV to take on the likes of the Qashqai, Sportage, et al.

The new Toyota Corolla Cross on test for Changing Lanes!
The new Toyota Corolla Cross on test for Changing Lanes!

What's so special about the Toyota Corolla Cross?

The new Corolla has been a huge success in Ireland since it launched in 2019. With an SUV version, Toyota could really be on to another winner.

Size-wise, the Corolla Cross slots between the C-HR and the RAV4 in the Toyota range. The Toyota C-HR is the style icon of the range, but the Corolla Cross has been designed to be more practical. And it shows.

The styling is chunky and angular, with a big, impressive grille at the front and LED headlights as standard. Mid-spec Sport models add roof rails and 18-inch alloy wheels with a machined finish for a smarter look. The styling is a bit generic around the back, but there's something reassuring about the Corolla Cross that is sure to endear it among Toyota fans.

The Corolla Cross is also quite special because it debuts Toyota's latest generation hybrid technology. The fifth generation hybrid has lighter and more compact components, as well as a new battery - all to improve performance, efficiency and drivability.

There are two options: at launch, there's the 2.0 hybrid with 197hp, while a cheaper 1.8 hybrid will join the range soon with 140hp.

Toyota has done a good job in the cabin of the Corolla Cross also, to make it more modern and family-friendly.

The cabin of the new Toyota Corolla Cross
The cabin of the new Toyota Corolla Cross

Inside the Corolla Cross

For a start, there's more light and cabin space than in the C-HR. It feels roomier than a Corolla hatch thanks to the high roof line and a little extra width. Two adults or a few children will be able to sit comfortably in the back, though rear legroom doesn't feel quite as generous as rivals.

The cabin of the Corolla Cross is a real high point as it blends modern features like a new digital instrument panel and large 10.5-inch touchscreen with a solidly built cabin that instantly feels like home. There are lots of good quality materials including copious amounts of soft dash panelling for a plush finish.

Standard features also include dual zone climate control, a reversing camera, and being a Toyota, lots of advanced safety features.

The boot is bigger than in the C-HR but is still a bit on the average side by class standards. With a spare wheel fitted, there's 390 litres (436 litres without). However, thanks to a different rear suspension design, the 1.8 hybrid will have a slightly larger boot by about 46 litres.

The Corolla Cross is a fuel-efficient hybrid SUV
The Corolla Cross is a fuel-efficient hybrid SUV

Driving the 2.0 Hybrid

The Corolla Cross 2.0 Hybrid offers plenty of power, with 197hp available. It feels swift and responsive though it does get noisy if you accelerate hard. Like most hybrids, it's an SUV that favours a more relaxed use of the accelerator pedal - then all is quiet and calm in the cabin, with very little transmission noise.

Built on the same platform as the Corolla, the Corolla Cross offers a higher driving position and good view out of the road ahead. It shares the same agile handling, though a Corolla is a bit more fun to drive really. Yet the handling is neutral and balanced, and the Corolla Cross offers a remarkably comfortable drive across all sorts of road surfaces.

However, it's efficiency where the Corolla Cross leaves the competition behind. The official consumption figure is about 5.1 litres per 100 kilometres and real world economy is largely not far off that (my average over a week of driving was 5.4 litres per 100 kilometres). The Corolla Cross frequently dips into EV driving, improving the overall fuel economy. It really is impressive how this car can consistently return good values for efficiency.

Rear legroom in the new Corolla Cross
Rear legroom in the new Corolla Cross

Did you like it?

The Corolla Cross is a great addition to the Toyota range and is sure to be another success for the brand. It adds SUV charisma to one of Ireland's favourite cars and is a straightforward, practical model within the Toyota range. Some rivals feel more spacious inside but for many this Corolla Cross will be perfectly sized. It's a car that's easy to live with and simple to run, with excellent fuel consumption for a powerful hybrid. Well done Toyota!

Model tested: Toyota Corolla Cross 2.0 Hybrid Sport
Price: From 
€41,210
Engine:
2.0-litre petrol electric hybrid
Power: 197hp
Torque: 190Nm
Acceleration (0-100 km/h): 7.6 seconds
Motor Tax: 
€190 per year

____________________________

Written by Caroline Kidd

Founder and Editor of Changing Lanes, Juror for Irish Car of the Year

The new Corolla Cross has plenty of rugged charm!
The new Corolla Cross has plenty of rugged charm!

The Toyota Aygo X is now on sale in Ireland

Toyota Aygo X Review

Read Caroline's Toyota Aygo X review for everything you need to know about buying Toyota's small car in Ireland.

For over 15 years, the Toyota Aygo has been Toyota's answer for the city car segment. Now Toyota has launched a new version of the Aygo and given it a rugged makeover.

The new Toyota Aygo X is something of a small crossover for the city car class and goes on sale in Ireland priced from €19,370, making it one of the most affordable new cars you can buy in today's market.

Powered by a small petrol engine, it goes up against other city cars such as the Hyundai i10 and Kia Picanto. But with its crossover inspired styling, this new Aygo X has arguably more style and presence than rivals.

So is there any substance behind that style? Let's find out.

The Toyota Aygo X is now on sale in Ireland
The Toyota Aygo X is now on sale in Ireland

Styling

The new Toyota Aygo X is styled as a small urban warrior with lots of rugged design features to help its crossover credentials. It's a bit longer and wider than the old Aygo and it also sits higher off the ground. At the front it looks a bit more modern and chunkier, with a high bonnet and large headlights (some versions get full LED). Big wheels are also part of the deal. 17- or 18-inch are fitted depending on the trim level and they fit the flared wheel arches beautifully, adding to the little Toyota's chunky charm. Other crossover-inspired design cues include cladding around the sills and wheel arches. Some versions of Aygo X get a contrast coloured roof, which extends to the rear wings of the car for even more style. At the back, it still bears a resemblance to the old Aygo city car with a full glass boot lid and signature light design.

Interior

Toyota has given the new Aygo X a fun and colourful cabin, that feels very solid and well-built for a small car. There are three trim levels for the Aygo X in Ireland: Pulse, Design and Envy. The size of the touchscreen differs depending on which version you go for. The standard size is 7-inch but top of the range models get an impressive 9-inch screen. It also offers wired or wireless smartphone connectivity via Android Auto® and Apple CarPlay®, depending on which trim level you go for. Manual air conditioning is included as standard, while top of the range models get climate control and wireless smartphone charging.

The Aygo X also takes a big step forward in terms of safety by introducing Toyota Safety Sense as standard including Pedestrian Detection, daytime Cyclist Detection, Collision Mitigation Support, Intelligent Adaptive Cruise Control, Lane Trace Assist and Emergency Steering Assist.

The interior of the new Aygo X
The interior of the new Aygo X - modern and colourful

Practicality

The Aygo X comes with five doors as standard, which makes it more practical than a Fiat 500 for example. Albeit, the rear doors don't open very wide and when you do squeeze into the back, you'll find just two seats and pop-out windows. It's possible to seat adults in the back but there's really not a huge amount of legroom or headroom. If rear passenger space is a priority in your small car, you might want to step up to the larger Toyota Yaris. The Aygo X has a bigger boot than the previous Aygo and is up about 60 litres to 231 litres, which is acceptable for a city car and not too far off the boot volume of a Hyundai i10. With the rear seats down, the boot space increases to 829 litres.

Engines

There's just one engine available. Toyota is famous for hybrid but the Aygo X uses a simple 1.0-litre petrol engine with 70bhp. The 0 to 100km/h benchmark is a leisurely 15.5 seconds, but it manages to feel nippy around town at low speeds and can even hold its own on motorways once cruising speed is reached. However, it can run out of power quickly on more challenging uphill roads so frequent gear changes will be required from the 5-speed manual gearbox to keep it in its sweet spot. The Aygo X is relatively efficient and cheap to run. There's also the option of a CVT automatic gearbox.

The Aygo X gets some crossover-inspired styling
The Aygo X gets some crossover-inspired styling for this version of the popular city car

Driving

The Aygo X is built on the same platform as the Yaris and the Yaris Cross. On the road the Aygo X feels light and agile; it’s everything you could want from a city car. The steering has been tuned for city driving so it’s easy to park and manoeuvre, while also offering a tight turning circle of just 4.7 metres. You also sit higher than in the previous Aygo so you get a better view out of the road ahead.

There’s more sound insulation than before to create a quieter cabin, while the suspension has also been tuned to improve comfort. It's surprisingly fun to drive too, with good road-holding ability through bends.

The Aygo X's small petrol engine makes it naturally best in town and city driving, as the revs run high on the motorway making it quite noisy at high speeds. The Toyota Yaris might be a better option if you will spend a lot of time on bigger roads by providing more power and comfort for passengers.

Pricing

The Toyota Aygo X Pulse is available from €19,370. The Aygo X Design is available from €20,565. The top of the range Aygo X Envy is available from €22,245.

Boot space in the Aygo X
Boot space in the Aygo X

Summary

The city car class has been in decline in recent years, so Toyota has made a smart move by turning their smallest car into an attractive small crossover.

The crossover makeover gives the Aygo X bags more visual appeal than some of its competitors. It has more presence and it's a stylish option in the city car class, with the strength of the Toyota badge.

If you're willing to spend a bit more on a small car like this and go for one of the higher trim levels, the Aygo X does boast some great features and all versions come with lots of standard safety equipment.

It's a small car so there are limits to its comfort and practicality, but the Aygo X is ideal for drivers who spend a lot of time in town.  Sturdy and stylish, the Aygo X is now one of the best city cars you can buy.

The Toyota Aygo X is a sturdy and stylish car for the city
The Toyota Aygo X is a sturdy and stylish car for the city

____________________________

Written by Caroline Kidd

Founder and Editor of Changing Lanes, Juror for Irish Car of the Year


The new Toyota Highlander on test for Changing Lanes

Toyota Highlander Review

Read Caroline's Toyota Highlander review for everything you need to know about buying Toyota's flagship hybrid SUV in Ireland!

The Toyota Highlander is now on sale in Ireland for the very first time. The brand's new large, seven seat SUV slots above the RAV4 in the Toyota range. It's hybrid only and all wheel drive, with a more friendly, road-going image and presence than the perennial Land Cruiser for example. It should be more efficient too, all going well.

SUVs are hot right now and so is hybrid. So is the new Highlander any good? It was time for Changing Lanes to take it for a drive to find out.

The new Toyota Highlander on test for Changing Lanes
The new Toyota Highlander on test for Changing Lanes

What's so special about the Toyota Highlander?

With seven seats as standard, a huge amount of passenger space and lots of luxury features on board, the Highlander is new territory for Toyota in Ireland.

Priced from €71,305, it's expensive for sure and a significant step up from the popular Toyota RAV4. All wheel drive comes as standard as does a 2 tonne towing capacity.

The Highlander epitomises the term 'big car'. This car has presence and takes up quite a lot of space for a modern SUV at nearly 5 metres in length!

It's built on Toyota's TNGA-K platform architecture, which also underpins the new Camry, and uses the Japanese brand's fourth generation hybrid technology on board.

The Highlander shares a familiar solid and rugged look with other Toyota SUVs like the Toyota RAV4. It's an impressive vehicle from any angle. LED headlamps and 18" alloy wheels come as standard.

The new Highlander has seven seats as standard
The new Highlander has seven seats as standard

Inside the new Highlander

Inside, the Highlander gives you something of an armchair experience, with a comfortable and high driving position. It's properly lofty from behind the wheel.

The design is hardly cutting edge but the cabin of the Highlander does feel high-end for this brand. Satin and wood grain trim finishes add some prestige, as does a full leather interior and plenty of soft touch materials.

There's also every interior feature imaginable including an 8” multimedia touchscreen featuring navigation and smartphone integration via Apple CarPlay™ and Android Auto™,  wireless phone charging, 3-zone air-conditioning, keyless entry and a Blind Spot Monitor (BSM).

Still competition is stiff among seven seat family SUVs, with the likes of the Volvo XC90 and even the Hyundai Santa Fe and Kia Sorento bringing excellent quality and design to the segment, and arguably more impressive digitisation on board.

The Highlander comes well equipped from standard. But step up to a Sol (from €77,900) and enjoy extra features such as 20" alloy wheels (five spoke), JBL premium sound system, and heated front seats.

The top of the range Platinum (from €83,330) adds head-up display, 20" dark grey machined finish alloys (10 spoke), panoramic roof and pre-collision system with pedestrian and cyclist detection.

Inside the new Toyota Highlander
Inside the new Toyota Highlander

Is it practical?

The Toyota Highlander is huge inside! It's a very on-trend way of carrying multiple people and their things.

With a generous 2850 mm wheelbase, the Highlander feels like a genuine 7 seater. It offers more space and better access than many to passengers in the third row. The second row seating can slide forward by 180 mm to make third row accommodation more spacious and accessible. While with all seven seats in place, there's still 332 litres of boot space, comparable to a small hatchback.

In row 2, it's lounge-like, with big square windows, comfy seating and a flat floor. In five seat mode there is 631 litres of boot space in the Highlander, with a small bit of underfloor storage and a kick-sensor operated power tailgate.

Hybrid in the Highlander

The Highlander uses the same 2.5-litre hybrid powertrain as the RAV4, but here it puts out 248 hp. Driving modes are also included: Eco, Normal, Sport and Trail.

This is a standard hybrid; it's not like a plug-in hybrid that can be charged and driven electric for a limited range. Granted the Highlander's small capacity battery does mean that in low speed stop start town driving for example the SUV can run off its battery power when certain conditions are met, boosting efficiency.

Boot space in the Toyota Highlander
Boot space in the Toyota Highlander

This is a considerably sized car so I was very curious to see how well the Highlander would perform over motorway and town driving. But there were no ugly surprises, with my fuel consumption averaging at 6.9 litres per 100 km over a week of driving. Hybrid technology has come a long way and the Highlander feels acceptable in terms of efficiency.

Of course, steps have been taken to improve the car's aerodynamic performance. The front bumper bottom edge, front bumper sides and roof spoiler have all been shaped to smooth the flow of air passing over and leaving the vehicle.

A radiator air guide ensures that airflow is efficiently directed to the radiator with minimum resistance. When the radiator does not require additional air flow cooling, grille shutters close to both reduce airflow resistance and assist with engine warm-up.

A first for a Toyota vehicle, new aero-ventilating aluminium wheels combine both brake cooling and aerodynamic performance. The underbody features an extensive, flat undercover to smooth the passage of air beneath the vehicle.

Airflow exhaust mechanisms have also been fitted on the insides of the front and rear wheel arches. Reducing air pressure inside the wheel arches increases the contact load of the tyres, enhancing both grip and vehicle stability.

Rear legroom in the Highlander
Rear legroom in the Highlander

Driving the Toyota Highlander

On the road, power is delivered smoothly with not too much interruption from the CVT gearbox. To meet its more premium billing, the new Toyota Highlander uses an acoustic windscreen and front glazing. There's also roof, dash and floor silencers, and wheel arch and boot space liners.

The Toyota Highlander is clearly a car designed for gentle driving, and it excels at transporting those on board in comfort. Yet it's still agile for its size, with good grip and body control for a large SUV.

Ride character is made more comfortable through a system that controls drive torque to the front wheels to both reduce the vehicle pitch motion caused by road surface fluctuations and reduce bonnet lifting behaviour under hard acceleration.

Did you like it?

The Toyota Highlander builds on Toyota's recent success in hybrid cars and SUVs. The brand can now offer buyers an on-trend, large family SUV with seven seats that packages much of what has made the smaller RAV4 a success for example.

Chunky SUV styling meets the brand's best hybrid powertrain yet. The Highlander is quite unique in the segment as a standard hybrid, so it will suit those buyers where plug-in hybrid is less attractive, but who still require an economical petrol-driven SUV.

The interior of the Highlander gives a feeling of prestige but it is hardly the most high-tech cabin in the segment. Still it's old school Toyota quality that feels great from behind the wheel.

This car is truly huge inside with a generous blend of seating and cargo space. The Toyota Highlander is a step up for sure but it's one Toyota fans will love.

The Toyota Highlander is on sale now
The Toyota Highlander is on sale now

Model tested: Toyota Highlander Platinum
Price: 
€83,330
Engine: 2.5-litre petrol electric hybrid
Power:
248 hp
0-100km/h:  
8.3 seconds
Top speed:  180 km/h
CO2 emissions:  
160 g/km
Motor tax: 
€280 per year

____________________________

Written by Caroline Kidd

Founder and Editor of Changing Lanes


The new Toyota Yaris Cross on test for Changing Lanes!

Toyota Yaris Cross Review

 

The new Toyota Yaris Cross on test for Changing Lanes!
The new Toyota Yaris Cross on test for Changing Lanes!

Read Caroline's Toyota Yaris Cross review for everything you need to know about Toyota's new small SUV in Ireland.

Toyota is a brand that has been slowly and steadily taking over the Irish new car market. The brand's punt on hybrid technology has really paid off, with new models like the RAV4, C-HR, Yaris and mighty Corolla featuring consistently in the top bestselling cars in Ireland.

Now the brand looks set to expand their reach into the small SUV segment with the launch of the new Toyota Yaris Cross.

What's so special about the Toyota Yaris Cross?

Based on the Yaris supermini, the new Toyota Yaris Cross is the brand's first B-SUV and exclusively hybrid-engined.

It goes on sale priced from €29,700, which is in the region of the popular Corolla. It's a bit more expensive to buy than a Yaris Hybrid (from €26,600). But it is a more substantial car and it's the trendy crossover type that customers are happy to pay more for.

In Ireland the Yaris Cross is sold in four grades: Luna, Luna Sport, Sol and GR Sport.

In the metal, the Yaris Cross has a good stance. It is easily distinguishable from the Yaris it is based upon, carrying the body of a small SUV quite convincingly. The Yaris Cross has grown in all directions, being longer, wider and taller than a Yaris supermini.

In fact the rugged design makes it more of a junior RAV4 from many angles, which is sure to please buyers in the market for a compact car like this.

Plastic cladding and squared off wheel arches reinforce the SUV look. Wheel sizes up to 18" are available.

The Yaris Cross uses a hybrid engine
The Yaris Cross uses a fuel-sipping hybrid engine

Inside the Yaris Cross

Inside, the Yaris Cross is also unique enough to distinguish itself in the Toyota range. You sit a little bit higher than in a Yaris and the dashboard design feels a little more mature.

It's not the most youthful or trendy design Toyota has ever come up with - the C-HR would be a more fashionable choice - but it is solidly made and good quality with a mix of different materials and colours.

Sol (from €35,850) and above get a new 9" infotainment system with much more modern graphics. Other models get the older 8" touchscreen, though Apple CarPlay and Android Auto mean you can bypass the system most of the time.

Standard equipment includes 16" alloys, electric windows, climate control, push button start, and reversing camera.

Going up the trim levels adds more gear, larger alloy wheels, some cosmetic updates and opens up the option of a trendy bi-colour roof. The Yaris Cross GR Sport is the sportiest of them all, taking inspiration from Toyota's high performance 'GR' models.

But no matter which version you go for, there's a suite of standard safety equipment including road sign assist, adaptive cruise control, forward collision warning, lane departure alert and a new centre airbag. This makes it one of the safest small SUVs on the road.

Is it practical?

Yaris Cross has the same 2,560 mm wheelbase as the new Yaris hatchback, but is 240 mm longer overall, with 60 mm added to the front overhang and 180 mm to the rear for more interior space. The ground clearance is 30 mm higher. The vehicle is taller by 90 mm and wider by 20 mm.

So inside it feels bigger than the Yaris and is spacious enough for a compact vehicle in the front. But in the rear the Yaris Cross still fails to impress when it comes to legroom, with some rivals doing it better.

Yet a 397 litre boot is generous and adds a more practical touch to this car. An adjustable deck height gives the flexibility of either a secure underfloor compartment or increased boot space for larger loads.

The interior of the Toyota Yaris Cross
The interior of the Toyota Yaris Cross

Driving the Yaris Cross Hybrid

The new Toyota Yaris Cross is the latest model to be built on Toyota New Global Architecture (TNGA). Designed and engineered in Europe, the Yaris Cross is manufactured in France.

Toyota’s new small SUV uses the brand's latest 1.5-litre petrol electric hybrid system, the same as in the new Toyota Yaris Hybrid. It works exceptionally well with a smooth and refined drive from a three-cylinder Atkinson-cycle petrol engine, engineered to reduce friction and mechanical losses and optimise combustion speed.

There is 116 hp available, which feels about right for a small SUV. The bias is towards efficiency and rightly so. There the Yaris Cross performs like a true hybrid star. My average fuel consumption over a week of driving finished at 4.7 litres per 100 km.

In a market now flooded with small turbo petrol engines, this stands out for its genuine efficiency while feeling lively enough behind the wheel too.

Elsewhere the Yaris Cross performs with few tricks other than a pleasant and predictable drive that's comfortable for its size.

The Yaris Cross goes on sale in Ireland priced from €27,260
The Yaris Cross goes on sale in Ireland priced from €27,260

Did you like it?

The new Toyota Yaris Cross became one of Ireland's bestselling cars soon after launch and it's still a very appealing prospect if you're in the market for a stylish small SUV that's well-built and efficient.

The Yaris Cross offers a smooth hybrid drive that is truly efficient and refined, making this the latest sophisticated hybrid machine to wear the Toyota badge.

It can get quite expensive as you up the trim levels for what is quite a compact car, but it certainly offers more space inside and a better image than the Yaris supermini.

Inside, the Yaris Cross has a mature and solid feel that will go the distance though some rivals feel a little more stylish. The Yaris Cross offers a good-sized boot, but some rivals feel more spacious in the back. Toyota's own Corolla Touring Sports or new Corolla Cross would be a little more spacious.

But everyone loves crossovers right now. The Yaris Cross has all the trendy design cues and compact dimensions that are bound to cement Toyota's name in the market for small SUVs.

Model tested: Toyota Yaris Cross Sol
Price: 
€35,850
Engine: 1.5-litre petrol electric hybrid
Power: 
116 hp
Torque:  120 Nm
0-100km/h: 
11.2 seconds
Top speed:  170 km/h
CO2 emissions:  
113 g/km
Motor tax: 
€190 per year

____________________________

Written by Caroline Kidd

Founder and Editor of Changing Lanes, Juror for Irish Car of the Year

The Yaris Cross is an efficient and capable small SUV
The Yaris Cross is an efficient and capable small SUV