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SEE ALSO: Toyota Buyer's Guide

New Car/Review

1997 TOYOTA TERCEL REDHAWK

by Matt/Bob Hagin

SPECIFICATIONS

Manufacturer's Suggested Retail Price              $ 10,648
Price As Tested                                    $ 13,034
Engine Type                             1.5 Liter I4 w/EFI*
Engine Size                                  91 cid/1497 cc
Horsepower                                    93 @ 5400 RPM
Torque (lb-ft)                               100 @ 4400 RPM
Wheelbase/Width/Length                   93.7"/64.8"/161.8"
Transmission                              Five-speed manual
Curb Weight                                     2055 pounds
Fuel Capacity                                  11.9 gallons
Tires  (F/R)                                     P185/60R14
Brakes (F/R)                                      Disc/drum
Drive Train                  Front-engine/front-wheel-drive
Vehicle Type                        Five-passenger/two-door
Domestic Content                                        N/A
Coefficient of Drag (Cd.)                              0.32

PERFORMANCE

EPA Economy, miles per gallon
   city/highway/average                            32/39/35
0-60 MPH                                       10.5 seconds
1/4 Mile (E.T.)                     17.5 seconds @ 80.5 mph
Top speed                                           110 mph
     * Electronic fuel injection

(The Tercel is the entry-level car of the Toyota line. Matt Hagin says it's well put together, economical and nimble around town. His dad Bob agrees and likes the "glitz" job of the Hawk versions.)

BOB - I've always been a small sedan guy, Matt, ever since the days of the Austin A40 and the original VW Bug of 40 years ago. It always seemed like a waste of energy herding around a two-ton V8 just to get from Point A to Point B, so this Toyota Tercel Redhawk is right up my alley. If you feather-foot it, the Tercel gets up to 39 MPG on the highway and that's among the best. If you can row the five-speed transmission correctly, you can run it up to 60 mph from a dead stop in a little over 10 seconds. It tops out at 110 mph if you get a good run at it. These Hawk models are specially-trimmed with little identifying "Hawk" decals glued to the body work just under the rear side windows. They don't seem to do anything except to give the cars a little extra glamour and glitz.

MATT - There's three different Hawk version Dad, and the colors are red, white and black. Other than the slightly bigger tires, special rims, and flashy paint, they're identical to the run-of-the-mill Tercel CE. Last year, Toyota offered the Tercel in a basic model and one that was a slight upgrade, but for '97, there's the base version plus the trimmed-out Hawks. They share the same 1.5 liter, twin-cam, four-valve engine that puts out 93 horses, and they come with either a five-speed manual transmission like the one in our test car, or a three-speed automatic. There's sway bars on both ends of the suspension so it handles pretty good, too.

BOB - The Tercel name has been around a long time, Matt. In '80 it was attached to the Corolla label and was the first front-wheel-drive car Toyota sold over here. All Tercels are made in Japan which can make them rather "pricey" if the yen gets strong, but this Red Hawk seems to be priced right. The front bucket seats are on the sporty side and give an old guy like me good side support if I'm inclined to toss the little car around a bit. But without the oversized 185/60R14 tires that are standard on all the Hawk series Tercels, it might not handle so good. I also think it would benefit from an anti-lock braking system for additional performance and safety. And I doubt that the dinky spoiler on the trunk adds anything to its performance. They could jettison the darn thing without hurting my feelings.

MATT - It's one of those image things, Dad. The interior is very functional, however, but like most two-door sedans, it takes a bit of maneuvering to climb into the back seat. It would be a more than a little tight on leg room for guys as big as my brother Brendan. But fortunately these Hawks all come with air conditioning, full carpeting, and a pretty fair sound system. The wipers are intermittent and the trunk and gas filler both have interior releases.

BOB - The rear seat back rest has a 60/40 split fold-down feature so ski buffs like you and your brother Tom could carry skis without having to strap them on top. I think it's false economy to equip the Tercel with an undersized little "emergency" spare tire, though. The few bucks extra that a full-sized tire costs would extend tire life by adding a fifth tire to the rotation sequence. The front seat shoulder harnesses have adjustable pillar anchor points and this latter feature takes on extra meaning for "petites" like my wife Suzanne. I've talked to other people who are around five feet tall and they all complain that fixed anchors made the shoulder harnesses catch them right under the chin.

MATT - I think that having our whole family try out these test vehicles is valuable to our write-ups, Dad. My wife is just five-foot tall with short legs, while Brendan is six-foot-three and looks like he's on stilts. By having everybody in the family drive them, there seems to be no segment of the population we can't get a reaction from.

BOB - There's just one, Matt. With no teen-agers left in the immediate family, we can't check to see if our test vehicles are teen-proof. Maybe your 15 year-old nephew Mario will visit when he's 16.

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