Sprint Review: 2023 Toyota Urban Cruiser 1.5 XR Auto

Unless you’ve been living under a rock for a while, what you’re looking at now is a Suzuki Vitara disguised as a Toyota Urban Cruiser. Here’s my impression of this white XR Automatic model…

You should know: The shape is pretty much identical to a Suzuki but here you get that coveted Toyota badge. Objectively, it’s a neat and modern-looking design with interesting light clusters and decent FWD City SUV proportions. I detest black wheels and white cars, but found a good family vehicle underneath that.

More info: We got the top-spec XR Automatic model for testing, which currently retails for around R370,000. All Urban Cruisers (and Grand / Vitaras) are only available with this 1.5L petrol 4-cylinder with maximum outputs of 77kW and 138Nm. Claimed average fuel consumption from the 45L tank is 6.1L/100km.

What else? The engine is fairly peppy but most of its response is robbed by weight or altitude and, in this application, the old-school torque converter automatic gearbox. With just four ratios on offer, there are distinct power gaps like the vast chasm between second and third gear… which can get rather frustrating.

Toyota doesn’t publish a claim 0-100km/h sprint time (neither does Suzuki) and we recorded a best-of-three runs of 11.80 seconds. It’s worth noting that the motor never reached the indicated 6,300rpm redline but short-shifted at or near its 6,000rpm peak power point. A single emergency brake-test from 100km/h was absolved in 3.02 seconds and 39.46 metres.

Why you shouldn’t: It’s eager to kick down at highway speeds, which adds a degree of commuting potential, yet we also noted a tendency to hunt for ratios, plus the absence of shift paddles; or a volume knob. Oh, and there’s a traction control button but – as far as we can tell – no traction control to activate or deactivate. My colleagues also had severe issues with the cabin lighting.

Why you should: Because it’s got great climate control, a modern touch-screen media system, small yet packed trip computer, good passenger space and comfort, as well as decent headlights and a fairly comfy ride. The high-beam is a bit mediocre and fuel consumption will escalate with added weight or altitude.

In summary, the new Toyota Urban Cruiser uses trusty tech and a decent mix of toys and comfort at a great price. Only go for this Automatic XR model if you have no other choice, because the manual 1.5 (also in a lower spec) will be easier on the pocket and much nicer to live with.


Engine:1,462cc i-4 petrol
Transmission:4-speed Auto, FWD  
Max. Power:77kW @ 6,000rpm
Max. Torque:138Nm @ 4,400rpm
Avg. cons.:Claimed 6.1L/100km
0-100km/h:11.8 seconds (no claim)
Top Speed:Claimed 165km/h
List Price:R369,900

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