2007 Toyota Yaris 4 Door Sedan and 2 Door Liftback Updated 4/8/2006 By CharlesOfria
$10,000 to $14,000 Sub-compact coupe or sedan
Who should buy this car:
A person looking for an entry level car with style and good build quality that will provide basic transportation
Comparable models in this class:
Chevrolet Aveo, Hyundai Accent, Kia Rio, Saturn Ion
When people go shopping for a new car, it goes without saying that (unless you are the head of a large corporation) price is a very important factor in the decision on which car to choose. And if that price has to be so low that you can only look at the lowest priced cars on the market, your expectations are generally quite low. You may say to yourself, "as long as it has 4 wheels and a steering wheel, it will be fine". The first response of a salesman might be "why don't you consider a used car if that is all you can spend?", but your previous experience with buying a used car was disastrous, so you said to yourself "never again will I buy someone else's headaches."
Well, surprise!. Toyota has introduced the replacement for their lowest priced model, the Echo. This new car is called the Yaris, and it's a beauty. Available in a slick four door sedan and a cute as a teddy bear two door liftback, this car is just full of surprises.
The Yaris Liftback has a starting price of well under $10,950. The sedan starts at $11,825. For those figures, you get a whole lot more that a stripped down econo-box. For instance, air conditioning is standard! How's that for a start?. A fully dressed, comfortable interior with a tilt steering column and height adjustable driver's seat (on the sedan) is also part of the base package.
TheYaris name is new to the US market, but it is actually a second generation car. The previous generation Toyota Yaris has been the best selling car in Europe since its introduction in 1999. This new generation Yaris is a leap forward in the sub-compact segment.
Wow! That was the word that came to mind when I first saw this diminutive pair of cars. On closer inspection, I had to ask the Toyota representative if the price they suggested was for the car I was looking at. He assured me that these cars, are going to be priced at "well under $13,000"
Fit and finish were every bit as good as other Toyota models. The interior was far from the plain econo-box look that we all expected. While most surfaces were hard plastic, it was good plastic and fully trimmed out. Seats were quite comfortable and the driver's seat on the sedan even had a manual height adjustment. We were assured that this and the adjustable steering column were both standard on the base model. Even the console was standard.
Toyota mentioned to us during the press preview that one of the central design goals for the 2007 Yaris was "Pride of ownership". The idea was to give people who own a Yaris the feeling they are glad to be seen in it. Heck, after driving these cars around and seeing how they look and behave, I wouldn't mind being seen in one.
We drove both the liftback and the sedan over a variety of roads in and around Atlanta Georgia and came away impressed at the decidedly un-econocar feel of this pair. The 1.5 liter engine had more than enough power for any type of road condition we experienced and felt fairly civilized, even under hard acceleration. You won't win any street light competition, but there was more than enough power to get you on the highway without having to wait for a huge gap in the traffic. The automatic transmission was smooth and responsive and the steering was sharp and direct. The ride over most road surfaces was every bit as good as the current Corolla, leading us to wonder what the next Corolla would be like.
Road noise was fairly well subdued on our early prototypes, about as good as that very competent big brother Corolla. Wind noise was also well controlled. On a 40 mile stretch of interstate highway, we found that we could cruise at 70 mph, listen to the stereo and relax. Directional stability was fine and the small engine had no problems maintaining speeds in the 70s and 80s without feeling a bit strained.
The two door Yaris liftback and the four door Yaris sedan share only their name. They are complete different cars designed by different teams of engineers. The sedan is some 19 inches longer than the liftback and has room for 4 adults with enough room to squeeze a fifth in for short hops. The liftback has a useable back seat with a completely flat floor. You have to be fairly limber to get into the back seat of any two door, but once seated, it is acceptable for an average sized adult. The optional split rear seat in the liftback can move fore and aft about 4 inches which helps. The seatback on this package also reclines 10 degrees. This split seat and the standard full-width bench will fold down to extend the trunk space into the rear seat area.
Trunk space in the liftback is useable at 12.8 cubic feet of space. The sedan is even better at 12.9 cubic feet. This is as good as some compact cars even though the EPA classifies the Yaris as a sub-compact.
Some serious technology went into the Yaris. For instance, the engine uses Variable Valve Timing with intelligence to allow for good power delivery without taking a hit on gas mileage. This technology was mainly used on more expensive cars in the past. Because of VVT-i, the Yaris boasts some of the best EPA numbers in the sub-compact class at 34 city and 40 highway miles per gallon or 34 city and 39 highway for cars equipped with an automatic. In addition to this excellent fuel economy, the Yaris is classified as an Ultra-Low Emission vehicle (ULEV II)
Electric Power Steering is another advanced technology and is the first ever in a sub-compact. It allows the driver to have speed sensitive power steering that is light during parking maneuvers, then gradually stiffens up at speed to provide good road feel. It also allowed the engineers to eliminate the power steering pump, pipes, pulleys and drive belts as well as power steering fluid and all the problems associated with these components as they age.
Even though the base model has plenty of upscale features included in the base price, the Yaris has a number of options available to kick it a notch or two further up the ladder. These options include: a 4-speed automatic transmission, antilock brakes, seat-mounted side and side curtain air bags, fog lamps, cruise control, power windows and door locks, and even an available remote keyless entry with in-key remote.
The new Yaris is a simple car with pride of ownership as standard equipment. I fully expect it to be a good seller for Toyota with many people even stepping down from a more expensive car simply because they like the way this car looks.
If my grandmother could have seen this car, she would have said, "Isn't that darling... It's as cute as a button."