2007 Toyota Yaris S Sedan Review
Yada Yada Yaris
Gas prices are high, the globe is warming, Middle East oil fuels terrorists, yada yada yada, people are thinking about fuel-efficient, smaller cars. Seems like this is the ad nauseam conversation point these days in the automotive world, where the acronym of choice has migrated over a keyboard space from mph to mpg. Although the Toyota Yaris replaces the unloved Echo, it arrives at a time much more friendly to its diminutive proportions and fuel-sipping ways than the car buying climate its predecessor was born into. Consider the Yaris the Toyota Camry’s Mini-Me; a family sedan that provides competent, comfortable yet not particularly exciting transportation.
Unlike the go-kart-like Honda Fit, the Yaris goes about its business in a staid manner. The interior is quiet, the ride comfortable, and the steering low-effort—everything a good Toyota should be. The exterior is one of the best-looking examples in its class, particularly from the front, and the whole design makes the Yaris seem much bigger than it actually is. Our Yaris S tester donned a body kit that lends a very sporty look, which is somewhat ironic considering how generally unsporty the Yaris is. Perhaps it was the car’s automatic transmission that sucked the life out of it, but the 106-horsepower Yaris just didn’t feel as peppy as the 105-horse Fit that is actually 100 pounds heavier. The manual is apparently a smooth-shifting device, so we’d suggest sticking with the old clutch and shifter.
Interior materials are top-notch and the center control panel is a dead ringer for the chic Volvo S40/C70’s waterfall design. Youthful buyers will appreciate the S trim level’s upgraded stereo with auxiliary audio port and mp3 CD player complete with folder control buttons. The centrally located gauges, however, are just as much of a pain on the Yaris as they were on the Echo, Saturn Ion and just about every other car that’s tried to get cute with the speedometer and tach. The Mini Cooper gets away with it because its central speedo is the size of a Sara Lee apple pie—the Yaris is more cupcake.
Other gripes involve space, or a lack thereof. The driver’s seat is just plain uncomfortable for anyone approaching six feet tall. Never mind simple leg room, the height adjustable seat’s lowest setting is slightly rear-up making one feel like they're sitting on a padded ramp bolted to a stool. Also, when cars get this small, the sedan body style just doesn’t make sense when it comes to carrying cargo. There is thankfully a rear pass-through (take note Honda Civic), but cargo capacity still falls woefully short of the Fit, Suzuki SX4, Nissan Versa and other hatchbacks. For a majority of the hatch-hating American public, though, the sedan look is worth a few less cubic feet.
Now for the happy news, which involves the Yaris’ best-in-class EPA fuel economy rating of 34 city, 39 highway. For those prioritizing saving cash on gas and not wanting to step up a few grand for a Prius, this is one car that certainly won’t disappoint. It’s not a go-kart like some of its fellow mini cars, but like its big Camry sibling, it does the job that most of the car-buying public expects from a car: comfortable, well-equipped and— nowadays—fuel-efficient transportation.
Warranty/Service: Three-year/36,000-mile basic warranty; five-year/60,000-mile powertrain warranty.