Review: Toyota Urban Cruiser (2009 – 2013)


Chunky and quirky looks. A rare sight on UK roads. 1.4 D-4D AWD surprisingly enjoyable to drive.

1.3 VVT-I no fun to drive. DMF and clutch of 1.4 D4-D can be short lived.

Recently Added To This Review

27 January 2019

Report of clutch failure of Toyota Urban Cruiser 1.4 D-4D AWD at 20,000 miles. Read more

5 June 2018

Report that soon after purchase of a used 2010/60 reg Toyota Urban Cruiser 1.4 D-4D a warning light kept appearing on the dashboard. The manual advised that the light indicated that the oil needed changing.... Read more

20 September 2014

Another 2009 Urban Cruiser 1.4 D-4D 4WD clutch and DMF failed at 22,000 miles. Read more

Toyota Urban Cruiser (2009 – 2013): At A Glance

The Toyota Urban Cruiser is an oddball car. It's chunky, without absorbing urban ruts, potholes and speed humps as well as a Qashqai on same size tyres. The diesel comes with four-wheel drive that doesn't endow it with off-road ability. The petrol engine is very efficient, with stop-start, but isn't outstandingly fuel efficient or low in CO2. And the collapse of Sterling against the Yen has meant that UK prices are a bit jaw dropping.

Toyota Urban Cruiser 2009 Range Road Test

What does a Toyota Urban Cruiser (2009 – 2013) cost?

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Toyota Urban Cruiser (2009 – 2013): What's It Like Inside?

Length 3930 mm
Width 1725 mm
Height 1525–1540 mm
Wheelbase 2460 mm

Full specifications

Sure it's reasonably practical, with adequate room for four and their bags, but I think Toyota might have been wrong to set it up against small 4WDs like the Suzuki SX4, its Fiat Sedici clone, mini MPVs like the Citroen Picasso C3 and style statements like the Kia Soul. The Urban Cruiser diesel AWD is more of a competitor to the MINI Clubman in the sense it's a car you can have fun driving, yet into which you can also chuck a fair amount of clobber.

Child seats that fit a Toyota Urban Cruiser (2009 – 2013)

Our unique Car Seat Chooser shows you which child car seats will fit this car and which seat positions that they will fit, so that you don't have to check every car seat manufacturer's website for compatibility.

Which car seat will suit you?

What's the Toyota Urban Cruiser (2009 – 2013) like to drive?

Well, the diesel all-wheel-drive just happens to be the lowest emitting four-wheel drive you can buy (lower even than the Fiat Panda Multijet 4x4).

But instead of using power to every wheel to make it an accomplished off-roader, it behaves much like an Audi S3 with a third of the power, and becomes a surprisingly capable on-roader. In any kind of driving that could be considered remotely normal you cannot unstick the front. And that allows safe yet entertaining cornering of the ear-to-ear grin variety.

Obviously with a mere 90PS and 205Nm torque from 1,800rpm it's no ball of fire. The turbo whistles like One Man and his Dog before it does very much. But the fact that you don't have to slow down for an impending corner means you can whack along at a very impressive pace for a car that looks more like a Tonka toy than a sports car.

I guess the four-wheel-drive with the right tyres might make it good in the snow too. You can lock the centre diff below 40kmh to crawl through the white stuff, and switch off the traction control system below 55kmh.

But it won't make many friends among the surfing fraternity, as we found when we made complete fools of ourselves pulling onto some very soft sand. It simply dug itself in, started burning its clutch, and required the help of four friendly Portuguese with an L200 and a towrope to get us out. Subsequent jokes about sandwiches for lunch, Sandeman's Port and Lorimer of Arabia will take a while to live down.

In contrast to the fun we had with the AWD diesel when we weren't up to our axles in beach, the super-efficient 1.33 front drive petrol Urban Cruiser with stop&start was a disappointment. Sorry, Toyota, but there's no other word for it.

The steering was lighter, giving less information of what sort of work the tyres were facing. The gearshift was clunkier. The power output was a bit higher, but the torque was a lot lower. The only benefit seemed to be a sliding rear seat and slightly more luggage space from not having a rear diff in the way. It's hard to see where Toyota expects to park this car. Certainly not on my driveway. I can't speak for the sort of customer who went for short wheelbase Suzuki Vitaras and the like. But I don't even know a hairdresser who'd consider one.

I guess its virtues included a reasonably relaxed cruise at 23mph per 1,000rpm in 6th and fuel economy and CO2 much better than something kike a Daihatsu Terios. Actually a lot better than most petrol cars at 51.4mpg combined and 129g/km.

Engine MPG 0-62 CO2
1.33 VVT-i 50 mpg 12.5 s 129 g/km
1.4 D-4D 58 mpg 12.5 s 130 g/km

Real MPG average for a Toyota Urban Cruiser (2009 – 2013)

Real MPG was created following thousands of readers telling us that their cars could not match the official figures.

Real MPG gives real world data from drivers like you to show how much fuel a vehicle really uses.

Average performance


Real MPG

38–64 mpg

MPGs submitted


Diesel or petrol? If you're unsure whether to go for a petrol or diesel (or even an electric model if it's available), then you need our Petrol or Diesel? calculator. It does the maths on petrols, diesels and electric cars to show which is best suited to you.

What have we been asked about the Toyota Urban Cruiser (2009 – 2013)?

Every day we're asked hundreds of questions from car buyers and owners through Ask Honest John. Our team of experts, including the nation's favourite motoring agony uncle - Honest John himself - answer queries and conudrums ranging from what car to buy to how to care for it as an owner. If you could do with a spot of friendly advice before buying you're next car, get in touch and we'll do what we can to help.

Ask HJ

How long should an exhaust system last?

My Toyota Urban Cruiser has done 51,000 miles, is on a 2009 plate and the joint between the back box and the remainder of the system has corroded through and is now detached. Should I have expected it to have lasted longer?
Exhaust systems depend very much on type of usage. Lots of short runs from cold starts will rot out the back box. You didn't say if this was petrol or diesel.
Answered by Honest John
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What do owners think?

Our view gives your our opinion, based on driving hundreds of cars every year, but you can't beat the views of someone who lives with a car day-in, day out.

  • 5 star 33%
  • 4 star 33%
  • 3 star
  • 2 star 33%
  • 1 star

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