Toyota Urban Cruiser or how to make a 30,000 euro Aygo and then complain that nobody buys it. Toyota Urban Cruiser, a Land Cruiser lite.

Is the Toyota Urban Cruiser really the lite version of the legendary Land Cruiser? No.

Toyota doesn’t know how to make it into this world of possibly smaller, crossovers. Cars like the Audi Q3, Fiesta Cross, and Polo Cross, in other words, cross-overs even smaller than the Toyota Rav4, the car that started the whole cross-over frenzy in the first place back in 2000. They tried the Toyota C-HR which was a semi-success, and now they come up with the Toyota Yaris Cross which is a Volvo XC40 that has Toyota written on it, at least in looks department. And then they launched the Aygo X and retired the regular Aygo and now they sell you small cross-overs by force.


But where does genesis start?

As Betty White once said : “It was hard at the beginning because the Big Bang came and took everything from us…”

Wait, not that…

Toyota Urban Cruiser. Before the C-HR, Toyota tried its luck with the Urban Cruiser. It was meant to be a smaller Land Cruiser in the sense that it was very good for the urban jungle, very reliable, and very, very expensive. We laughed at the Opel Astra K as being extremely expensive for what it offers but wait until you see the Urban Cruiser. In today’s money the cheapest Toyota Urban Cruiser starts at 26200 euros, and for that money you get what is essentially a refurbished Yaris. And for a modest 1.4 diesel 4×4 manual you’d have to fork out 29300 euros. For a 1.4 diesel manual.

If you’re like me and you’re not understanding complicated words like “Toyota” or “refurbished”, I have to tell you that the VW Passat B6 1.9 TDI saloon,from the same year as the Urban Cruiser, started at 25900 euros (adjusted for today) . To come and charge for a Yaris about as much as you would for a Passat is abit aspirational. But lest you say I’m a hater, mind you that a Suzuki SX4 1.6 petrol 120 horsepower in entry-level trim cost in 2009 about 17900 euros in today’s money. I didn’t really go to the school and the only math I know is from Big Shaq, but even I know that the entry-level Urban Cruiser costs over 8000 euros more than the base Suzuki SX4.


So why buy an Urban Cruiser?

Very good question. Because nobody bought it. And the few cars that have been bought depreciated so much that it’s worth all the money when you buy it used. But you can’t buy it used because nobody bought it new in the first place. After the Japanese saw that only 3 models were bought in Europe (actual sales figure), they took the decision in 2014 to stop production and sold whatever stock was left until 2016 after which they threw it in the dustbin of history, like Pepsi Blue or punk music.



Toyota Urban Cruiser Engines


  • 1.33 NA of 99 horsepower – The well-known and time-tested, 330ML beer-bottle-shaped engine, this famous 1NR-FE did its job admirably on the Yaris and was tormented on the Auris. I can relate to this engine. Starts up struggling and accompanied by sounds in the morning. Sometimes it needs a new water pump because it gets thirsty. Late in life, it starts to develop an appetite for oil. You’d think there were a lot of issues, and you’d be worse off than Spice Girls when they broke up and now they are getting back together again. 
  • 1.5 NA of 109 horsepower – You may laugh at the 10 horsepower difference, but on a car as light as this it’s making more sense than scouting for women by going into used wedding dresses ads. Chances are the seller is recently divorced and might be single. Anyway, this engine is Japan-only so don’t get too excited about it.
  • 1.8 NA of 128 horsepower – As is the case with this 2ZR-FE aswell. Also Japan exclusive. Atleast it’s better known for it’s work under the bonnet of the Auris and the Avensis. Sure, it develops an oil addiction later in life, but other than that it’s a pretty solid unit. Not an absolute unit, but pretty solid. 


1.4 D-4D of 90 horsepower – I never understood why you’d get a diesel Yaris and I don’t understand why you’d get a diesel Urban Cruiser. Just like I don’t understand WHY they put the 4X4 option ONLY on the diesel. AND WHY DID THEY INSTALL A DUAL MASS FLYWHEEL ON A 1.4 DIESEL AS IT HAS NO BODYWORK TO SHAKE DOWN AND STIRR? If you still insist on driving a diesel around town then you will have constant issues with the dual mass flywheel and clutch, which are not the 1.4 D-4D’s strong point.


Toyota Urban Cruiser General issues

  • No automatic gearbox outside of Japan. Yes, at 26-30,000 euros you didn’t even get an automatic gearbox.
  • Suspension is not necessarily a weak point but rather a mediocre point. A lot of people complain about the suspension being so stiff that it feels like rigor mortis.
  • It’s a pretty rare car so you’ll have trouble finding parts. Sure, alot of parts are stolen from Toyota’s general parts bin, but the specific parts will be harder to find. Oh yeah, and the Urban Cruiser comes standard with only one tire size – 195/60/R16 89H which is an atypical tire size and costs more than a regular R16 tire.

Toyota Urban Cruiser Verdict

It has a 4×4 system, which is only optional on diesel, with electronics stolen from the Rav4. The petrol engine is tried and tested on the Yaris. Basically, the Toyota Urban Cruiser is for the kind of person who can’t decide between buying a Yaris or a Rav4 and says they want both and chooses the Urban Cruiser. You don’t have to be Big Shaq to realize that such a clientele is as thin as the clothing of some beach band. Or maybe you want a car with total reliability and you’re willing to pay extra for fewer features, on the logic of “it won’t break down because there’s nothing to break down”, then the Toyota Urban Cruiser may be for you. 


Which engines do I recommend? Well you got an 1.3 petrol and an 1.4 diesel so it’s not THAT hard to choose.