2007 Toyota Yaris Liftback Road Test Review
Cute to Drive
The 2007 Toyota Yaris Liftback is so cute it should be sold at the Hello Kitty website. Its not a twin for the Japanese, uh, novelty character thats so popular with little girls of all ages, but it has the same wide-eyed innocence and giggly-sweet personality. Its teddy bear huggable and puppy dog playful.
And if you think that makes it difficult for a moderately mature-looking American male to drive a Toyota Yaris Liftback for a week, youre durn tootin right. Uh, yeah, its my daughters car is a lie one can tell only so many times.
To be fair, the two-door Toyota Yaris Liftback, along with its four-door Toyota Yaris Sedan partner, is the most economical model in the Toyota lineup. With a base price of $11,850 and a stingy 1.5-liter engine EPA rated at 34/39 mpg with an automatic transmission, it rivals the Toyota Prius for affordability, especially when purchase price is factored in. It may not be a hybrid but its financial footprint is small, particularly so considering the absence of a battery pack and the manufacture and disposal of same.
But if the Yaris Liftback is cute, its cute very well done. The overall profile would be one box if it were at all boxy. Instead the silhouette of the Yaris Liftback was drawn with a French curve, then the windows and wheels were drawn in. The kitten nose is stubby with a compact T grille and a hood so short its really more of an access panel.
The styling inventiveness continues inside with armrests the sweep up to the A-pillar and the center stack that forms a T, with horizontal radio controls across the top and simple HVAC dials aligned vertically below it. The instrument panel is contained in a single pod centered atop the dash, like that of the Toyota Echo that the Yaris replaces, because that makes it easier to sell in countries with right and left-hand drive. Theres just a speedometer on the i.p. Like, what would anyone do with a tachometer, whatever that is, anyway? Its an option with the manual transmission on the Sedan, so like whatever.
Cup holders fold down at either end of the dash, inconvenient but theres little other real estate for them, particularly with all the bins and cubbies, more than in a pink backpack, actually. The Toyota Yaris Liftback has big double-decker gloveboxes, there are bins on either side of the center stack, another at the drivers shin and a flat open tray ahead of the shifter for the automatic transmission. Theres a lidded bin above the steering wheel where the instrument panel normally would be, and a pencil-sized tray is alongside the lift-up handbrake lever.
A couple of oddities: The Yaris central locking system includes a door lock-unlock button on the drivers door, and theres one on the center console, but none on the passengers door. Theres also a power window lockout on the drivers door but the only other window that opens is the passenger doors. The hatchback isnt included in the power locking system. It unlocks, and locks, with the key only.
We have the power (package)
The optional Power Package refers to the power accessories and nothing about under the hood, where there are no options. For the Yaris Liftback, the Power Package also includes the standard-sized AM/FM/CD player with MP3 capability and universal mini-jack port (like totally awesome), rear defroster and wiper, and a 60/40 fold-down rear seat. Fifteen-inch steel wheels with full covers replace puny 175/64R14s.
Stand-alone options for the Yaris Liftback include side/side-curtain airbags and ABS, along with the Power Package, simply gotta-havits, cause like the rents say so. Cruise control is not available, however, perhaps something to do with the Toyota Yaris 106 horsepower and 103 lb-ft of torque.
Speaking of which, both versions of the 2007 Toyota Yaris have a standard 5-speed manual transmission. The four-speed automaticcould this ever use a 5-speedhas a gated shifter. Logic controls shifting to reduce hunting in hilly driving, but if it downshifts on downhills, there isnt enough compression to provide any braking effect.
Driving is what one gets with only 1.5 liters. There are two modes: easy and pokey, or frantic and, well, acceptable merge power. Its best to plan ahead but for most situations the Toyota Yaris Liftback produces only moderate terror. Perhaps thats moderately unfair, but the Yaris is unfast by any measure.
As for going around corners, the Toyota Yaris Liftback doesnt know the meaning of the phrase sports coupe and although it may have heard of sport compact, its totally clueless about what that is either. The tall profile conspires against it with a high center of gravity, and the high seating position accentuates every degree of lean. The 185/60R15 Bridgestone Potenza tires on our test Yaris Liftback are averse to squealingonly the occupants are likely to do thatand there certainly isnt enough power to break the tires loose any other way.
Ride is tolerably smooth and road noise present but not intolerable, but roadtrips in a Toyota Yaris Liftback are best left to the young. The trip wont break the Hello Kitty piggy bank. Our mixed driving of about 300 miles yielded a real world 32.4 miles per gallon of regular fuel.
Were not claiming then that a Toyota Yaris Liftback would be impractical for anyone other than a Hello Kitty-friendly female, but the less likely one is to go to the Hello Kitty website for an AstroTwin horoscope or to buy a Hello Kitty toaster ($36.99, plus shipping and handlingand why do we have to pay for someone to handle our Hello Kitty toaster anyway?), the more unlikely the 2007 Toyota Yaris Liftback fit your driveway.
Philbert J Thrombockle comments: Our Hello Kitty AstroTwins horoscope on the day this was written said denim never goes out of style and that we should consider investing. We say that anyone who considers blue jeans an investment will probably find it difficult to get a loan for a Toyota Yaris. Of course, if its just a fashion statementor better, if Daddy springs for the Hello Kitty wheelshave we got a car for you.
A few additional comments: Befitting a small car making the most of interior space available, the Toyota Yaris has thin front seats. Although theyre bolstered well enough for all the handling dynamics the Yaris is likely to produce, some passengers complained that the seats felt thin as well. The upholstery looks durable, however, and in charcoal with tiny electric blue polka dots matches the cars oh so cute personality.
The 2007 Toyota Yaris Sedan is a different car, by the way, not just a Liftback with two more doors. Hood contours are different and more standard equipment and options are available. Obviously someone who drives a Yaris Sedan is more, um, mature than the Liftback owner.
Sorry, but thats how we call it. We just dont think the Toyota Yaris Sedan owner is likely to also own a Hello Kitty 13-inch television-DVD combo: Just $264.99 plus shipping and, yep, more handling.
Prices for our test Absolutely Red 2007 Toyota Yaris Liftback automatic:
Base price $12,050 (the manual transmission model's base price is $11,150)
Power package: $1,680
Anti-lock brakes: $300
Front side airbags and side-curtain airbags: $650
Keyless remote entry: $230