Watch out Kia Seltos: Toyota reveals jacked up Yaris SUV
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Toyota has released the first images of a new baby SUV it plans to launch here towards the end of the year.
The carmaker, which dominates the SUV market in New Zealand, says the new pint-size SUV will be based on the Yaris small car and will be available with a hybrid option.
The Yaris Cross will be higher and wider than the Yaris, with 30mm more ground clearance and the availability of all-wheel drive to cope with unsealed roads and mild off-roading.
Toyota is yet to reveal the price of the new vehicle but it is likely to be about $25,000, putting it in direct competition with Mazda’s popular CX-3.
Sales of SUVs have boomed in recent years and they now represent roughly half of all new vehicle sales.
Much of the growth has come at the bottom end in the form of small, city-based vehicles that are basically high-riding hatchbacks.
Toyota Australia's Sean Hanley said Yaris Cross would meet the changing tastes of consumers.
“Yaris Cross is a stylish and flexible vehicle for people with active lifestyles who appreciate the strength, space and high-riding qualities of an SUV at a scale that suits their daily need to negotiate city streets and laneways,” Mr Hanley said.
Although these types of vehicles are more suited to the school run than exploring the outback, Toyota says the Yaris Cross will have genuine off-road ability, courtesy of its extensive experience in the area.
The RAV4, launched more than 25 years ago, is the world’s best selling SUV.
Apart from the raised ride height, the vehicle will have an elevated driving position and more interior space than the hatch it’s based on.
It will be powered by a frugal 1.5-litre three-cylinder engine that will be available in conventional petrol and hybrid configurations. Buyers will have the choice of cheaper front-drive models or a new lightweight, on-demand all-wheel-drive layout that gives better traction in the wet and on dirt roads.
The new model expands Toyota’s SUV line up to seven, sitting at the bottom of a range comprising genuine off-roaders — Prado, LandCruiser and Fortuner — and city-focused SUVs in the Kluger, RAV4 and C-HR.
Toyota SUVs made up more than 80,000 of the 480,000 SUVs sold last year.