HomeTechnologyToyota Urban Cruiser destined for success

Toyota Urban Cruiser destined for success

Andrew Muzamhindo
THE age of badge-engineered Toyota products continues with the newly launched Urban Cruiser. Some say it could pass for a baby Land Cruiser, as far as its looks go.

Interesting times are upon us in the compact crossover sector. It has been registering an incredible amount of growth globally as consumers look to the raised ride height and pseudo-off-road styling as high on their list of priorities when purchasing a new vehicle.

Those who cannot afford the traditional proper SUVs start off by buying compact crossovers. Well, If you cannot afford the “father” of all cruisers, the Land Cruiser 300 series, why not buy the baby?

Toyota is the best-selling brand in Africa. It needed a contender in this hotly contested segment. The Urban Cruiser is now available locally courtesy of Toyota Zimbabwe and its dealer network.

It is based upon India’s best-selling crossover, the Suzuki Vitara Brezza. In India it is selling more than 3 000 units per month. It is also doing very well in South Africa selling slightly below 1 000 units per month.

This new Urban Cruiser has been specifically developed for the Indian market and that means it would be graded for Southern African road conditions and fuel quality too.

It has a grille more reminiscent of other Toyota SUVs, a different shape to the fog lamp housing and a slightly different lower apron.

Overall, the design can be described as attractive, providing the desired small SUV silhouette along with plastic cladding for the wheel arches and roof rails, rounding off a pleasing look that is sure to be popular with consumers.

From a general fit and finish perspective, the quality is respectable, with the usual hard plastic surfaces combined with good quality material surfaces, including cloth-covered seats with a honeycomb pattern.

The infotainment system is a 7.0-inch colour touchscreen unit that offers Android Auto and Apple CarPlay functionality as well as a rear-view camera.

Other features inside include a multifunction steering wheel, cruise control, dual 12-volt charging points, rear Park Distance Control (PDC), air-conditioning and keyless entry/start, to name a few.

In terms of practicality, the Urban Cruiser features a 328-litre boot and includes a split-folding rear seat which adds a degree of practicality.

From an occupant space perspective, there are five seats, however, the Cruiser is more suited to carrying four occupants, which then allows for sufficient rear leg, head, and shoulder room.

Luxury items included in the standard package include an automatic dimming rear-view mirror and rain-sensing wipers, aircon, park distance control, and a touchscreen infotainment system with USB, Bluetooth, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, as well as the Toyota Connect telematics system, which includes an in-car Wi-Fi hotspot and 15GB of data through which you can book a service and access vehicle information.

The Xi models add auto climate control, a reversing camera and cosmetic items, to which the XR adds LED fog lamps, automatic headlights, cruise control, auto-dimming rear-view mirror, rain-sensing wipers, dual 12-volt power outlets, front armrest, leather steering wheel, a cooled glove box, and two tweeter speakers. Quite swanky! The seats are comfortable, visibility is good, and everything works for me.

All Urban Cruiser models are powered by the same K15B 1.5-litre naturally aspirated engine. In this guise, it produces 77kW and 138Nm of torque. There are two gearbox options, a 5-speed manual and a 4-speed automatic.

Analysing the Urban Cruiser from a performance perspective would be an exercise in futility, however, with a kerb weight of 1 130kg and a rev-happy engine, performance is adequate. Out on the road, the vehicle is incredibly easy to pilot, with a light clutch action, a vague but soft gearshift action along with a reasonable amount of refinement and noise cancellation for a product in this segment.

The product features 198mm of ground clearance but is front-wheel drive-only, meaning that off-road ability is limited. You will be impressed with the fact that it can get through the muddy quarry that we take many SUVs through, though.

Standard safety features on the Urban Cruiser include dual front airbags, ISOFIX child seat anchor points and ABS with EBD, making it acceptable at this price point.

Toyota claims a combined fuel consumption figure of 6.2L/100km which is relatively easy to replicate in the real world, especially when open road driving is included in your schedule.

The Urban Cruiser is the sort of product that is destined to be a success. With the right badge, a solid platform from a brand with a reputation for reliability that is on par with Toyota and the simple element that it is a crossover are key reasons for its near-guaranteed success.

The fact that it is reasonably priced and relatively safe also makes it easy to recommend as a beginner crossover. You can be assured that there will be many “little” Cruisers on local roads.

It does the basics right, plus offers plenty of features and space for a small family, all for a pocket-friendly price under US$25 000 locally.

Engine: 1.5-litre naturally-aspirated 4-cylinder petrolPower: 77 kWTorque: 138 Nm Transmission: 5-speed manualFuel efficiency:  6.2 L/100 kmLoad space: 328 litres

  • andrew@muzamhindo.com. 

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