The Toyota Urban Cruiser was not a success on its release but with its reliability and cheap running costs could now make a good investment on the used market. With a long history of building successful 4x4 vehicles, Toyota conceived the Urban Cruiser as a partner to their established RAV4 and Land Cruiser range. Released in 2008; and designed by Toyota's French design studio; the Urban Cruiser would attempt to offer the safety and security of the large 4x4 vehicle to the city dweller who demands economy and manoeuvrability. A hybrid technology, the Urban Cruiser occupies a distinct niche in the market. Never meant to offer off-road capabilities like the RAV4 and Land Cruiser; the Urban Cruiser would be built around small engines and at the time of release offered motorists the world's lowest carbon emissions for a 4x4 car.
Bang for your buck
The Toyota Urban Cruiser finds itself situated in the market well below other compact 4x4s like the Nissan X-Trail
. This means that it is competing with cars that do not claim off-road ability; buyers at this price point are looking towards style instead. It does a good job of this, with even basic equipment levels providing climate control air conditioning, alloy wheels, tinted glass, keyless entry and an MP3 based entertainment system with steering wheel controls.
Though not a true 4x4 the Urban Cruiser does offer some of Toyota's classic 4x4 handling and safety technologies. Toyota's Minimal Intrusion Cabin System is installed in the chassis which helps to absorb impacts by distributing pressure equally around the vehicle and away from the cabin. Inside the cabin, seven front and rear airbags are fitted, including knee and curtain bags. This attention to detail in safety is Toyota's forte and they have chosen to implement a full retinue of braking technologies including ABS, Brake Assist and their special 'Brakeforce' distribution system. In addition, stability control and traction control are included as standard.
What you'll pay
The used Toyota Urban Cruiser only comes in one trim level so the difference in price is down to the engine and drive options. The front-wheel drive VTi model is the cheapest option at £8,000. However, for a 4x4 diesel model that price can leap up to £10,500 with average condition and mileage.
What to check
All of the Toyota Urban Cruiser variants are based on tried and tested engines use by Toyota in their Yaris range and users report very few problems with them. In addition, most of the other technologies have been in operation on other vehicles in the Toyota stable and have been included here with minor tweaks. Buyers can feel confident that they are buying into a reliable car from a company valued by its customers. However, as it is not really suitable for off-road driving you should check for suspension and exhaust issues to make sure it has not been driven off the beaten track.
Although renowned for being a little pricey for franchise garage work, Toyota cars are very reliable so servicing cost isn't a particular issue. Parts are very reasonable with a clutch assembly for as little as £150, a starter motors at £100 and brake pads at £21 for the set.
How it drives
The Toyota Urban Cruiser for sale comes in a choice of two and four wheel drive versions with the 4x4 models utilising an Active Torque Control system borrowed from the RAV4 which maintains front wheel drive until a traction issue is detected and then intelligently switches on the 4x4 system. The upshot of which is that the Urban Cruiser handles extremely well in icy, wet or muddy conditions. However, this means that for most of its life the Urban Cruiser will have no use for its 4x4 capability.
The range of engines has been kept small to ensure economy. The 2wd model features a 1.3-litre engine offering 99bhp and the 4wd diesel is fitted with a 1.4-litre D-4D engine operating with 89bhp. Both variants are equally balanced for performance and will achieve a standing to sixty acceleration in around 12.5 seconds.
The Toyota Urban Cruiser is clearly not an off-road vehicle. It has an atypical low stance, which is more like a hatchback car than a 4x4 which makes it highly unsuitable. Those looking for true off road capabilities should direct their attention to the Land Cruiser range. However, the Urban Cruiser does offer 4x4 styling to the urban motorist at a price point and economy which make other actual off-road vehicles unsuitable. Combined with Toyota's exemplary record on safety and reliability it represents an excellent choice for a used vehicle purchase.