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Toyota Urban Cruiser hatchback (2009 – 2011) expert review

By Adrian Hearn, 16th June 2009

The verdict

The Toyota Urban Cruiser is a great option for those seeking to avoid the usual dowdy MPV offerings, thanks to its smart style and classy interior.

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Expert rating:



  • Attractive styling
  • Spacious interior
  • Classy cabin feel


  • Limited engine range
  • Conservative feel
  • Significant bodyroll

Full Review

1. Exterior

When the Toyota Urban Cruiser was delivered to Auto Trader, we took a shine to it instantly. The Cruiser looks a bit like a scaled-down Verso from the back and a large iQ from the front. Combine this with a set of shiny alloy wheels and you’ve got an interesting-looking package, though not as interesting as the Citroen C3 Picasso.
Our rating: 4

2. Interior

The Urban Cruiser’s instrument dials are great with the rev counter and speedo part of the same setup. It takes a little getting used to seeing the revs go up the right hand side of the speedo but it looks very cool. As we’ve come to expect from Toyota, the interior consists of superb quality, robust materials. The centre piece of the car’s interior is the sat-nav system which is an £800 option. But although classy, the interior lacks a sense of adventure.
Our rating: 4

3. Practicality

From the pictures you can be forgiven for thinking the Urban Cruiser is a bigger than it really is. It’s actually more hatchback-sized up close but is still spacious inside. The boot’s 314 litre capacity is a bit disappointing compared to the Kia Soul (340 litres) and Nissan Note (380 litres).
Our rating: 4

4. Ride and Handling

The Urban Cruiser handles as you would expect from a compact crossover with plenty of bodyroll on corners, but none more so than its rivals. Roundabouts could be a particularly perilous adventure if you’ve got children with travel sickness. On a plus side, the soft suspension ensures a comfortable ride, particularly when it comes to speed bumps.
Our rating: 3

5. Performance

The Toyota Urban Crusier is available with either a 99bhp 1.3 petrol or a 1.4-litre diesel with 89bhp. We spent a week driving the petrol engine and were surprised by it. A 0-62mph time of 12.5 seconds is nothing special but for quite a large car it’s more than respectable. The diesel is all-wheel drive with an identical 0-62mph time and top speed but thanks to the increase torque there is greater power available at lower revs. While both engines do the job, it’s quite limited. If you want something with a bit more power then you’ll have to look elsewhere.
Our rating: 3

6. Running Costs

Toyota claims the 1.33-litre model will average 51.4mpg and we were hitting 50.4mpg after 350 miles of motorway driving on it. The diesel averages 57.7mpg and emits 130g/km of CO2 which is really impressive for an all-wheel drive vehicle. Toyota fit it with all-wheel drive for improved safety but we think the engine should also be available as a front-wheel drive option. This will improve emissions, fuel consumption and performance.
Our rating: 4

7. Reliability

In the last JD Power survey, Toyota was named the fourth most reliable manufacturer after Lexus, Honda and Mercedes. The Urban Cruiser felt superbly built and we expect it to conform to Toyota’s excellent record.
Our rating: 4

8. Safety

Toyota has fitted the Urban Cruiser with seven airbags, anti-lock brakes and traction control. It also sounds the world’s most annoying beep if someone isn’t wearing a seatbelt. Despite campaigns and warnings not everyone wears a seatbelt but this beep means everyone, for the sake of their sanity wears one. And that’s good. It’s yet to be Euro NCAP crash tested but Toyota has a brilliant safety record with the current Auris, Avensis, Yaris and IQ all boasting five-star ratings.
Our rating: 4

9. Equipment

Prices are quite expensive compared to the Kia Soul. All models get air-conditioning, Bluetooth, electric windows, CD player and a start button. Customers can opt for a choice of three extra spec packs. Style brings alloy pedals, aluminium effect scuff plates a chrome grille and a leather handbrake lever. The Tech pack offers DAB audio, an IPod connection ands a USB connection. The Urban pack has bodyside mouldings, rear bumper protection and a rear parking sensor. Both sat-nav and leather seats are available as cost options.
Our rating: 3

10. Why buy?

The Toyota Urban Cruiser is a good car. It’s very practical, cheap to run and performs on the road as you need it too. Another downside is the car’s name which we can’t help thinking has slightly unfortunate connotations.
Our rating: 3

Expert review 3.6stars

  • Exterior4
  • Interior4
  • Practicality4
  • Ride and handling3
  • Performance3
  • Running costs4
  • Reliability4
  • Safety4
  • Equipment3
  • Why buy?3

Our recommendations

Best on a budget/Best-seller:
Urban Cruiser 1.33 VVT-i 2WD
Petrol Urban Cruiser is most affordable and most popular.
Blow the budget:
Urban Cruiser 1.4 D-4D 4WD
The diesel’s extra torque is worth the extra cost.

When the Urban Cruiser was delivered to Auto Trader, we took a shine to it instantly.