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2007 Toyota Yaris Review

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2007 Toyota Yaris

MODEL: 2007 Toyota Yaris 4-door sedan
ENGINE: 1.5-liter I-4
HORSEPOWER/TORQUE: 106 hp @ 6000 rpm/103 lb.-ft. @ 4200 rpm
TRANSMISSION: 4-speed automatic
WHEELBASE: 100.4 in.
LENGTH x WIDTH x HEIGHT: 169.3 x 66.5 x 56.7 in.
TIRES: P175/65R14
CARGO VOLUME: 12.9 cu. ft.
ECONOMY: 34 mpg city/39 mpg highway/39.1 mpg test
PRICE: $16,840 (includes $580 delivery, processing and handling fee)

Toyota has shown a remarkable ability to re-invent some of its products. When they wanted to come out with a more luxurious Toyota, they created Lexus. When they wanted to appeal to a younger demographic, they created Scion. And when certain models aren’t racing out the door, they push the “re-invent” button and see what comes out.

When Echo wasn’t selling as well as Toyota had hoped, the car was redesigned and remarketed as the Yaris, which may be classified loosely as a Toyota-branded Scion. Echo was a ho-hum compact sedan, but Yaris has a lot more panache that makes it more appealing.

During our test, we drove Yaris over our normal set of suburban and urban streets. We also took it on a 350-plus-miles road trip that delivered excellent fuel economy. The Yaris is rated at 34 mpg city/39 mpg highway. In a combination of city and highway (mostly highway, I’ll admit) we averaged 39.1 mpg. In today’s climate of overpriced gasoline, that’s outstanding. It’s also the best fuel economy we’ve attained in a non-hybrid.

Sure, the Yaris isn’t the fastest car on the highway, but it can keep up with anything else that’s driving legally out there, and with a couple who may be stretching the speed limit a bit. Where Yaris hurts is in acceleration. We didn’t exactly zip away from traffic lights and stop signs, and entering Interstates when the traffic’s at the speed limit can be a challenge. But we survived.

The 1.5-liter four is a bit buzzy at times, especially under hard acceleration. In general, the relatively noisy engine wasn’t a problem, though.

The engine is connected to the front wheels through a 4-speed automatic transmission. I would have liked a manual mode to the automatic but it isn’t available. There were a couple of times when I would have wanted to downshift faster than the transmission’s logic decided I wanted to downshift.

Handling is good for a compact car. But since there’s so much transmission lag in the gearbox, the Yaris can’t be driven like a sports car anyway. Life would be better with a manual, I feel.

Aside from these small complaints, I felt the Yaris was comfortable for four passengers. The cloth-covered seats offered good side support up front, with more of a bench in the rear. The backs of the rear seats fold to offer extra cargo space from the trunk’s 12.2 cubic feet. However, we felt we had just as much usable space with the rear seats up and carrying stuff on the rear seat cushions, but then, we weren’t carrying long objects.

Like many cars that have Japanese and American markets, the speedometer and other instruments are center-mounted to make it more economical to switch the steering wheel from the right side to the left side. I didn’t like this in the Yaris. I kept looking at a blank dash in front of me to see how fast I was going or to check the fuel level. Once I realized I wasn’t using any fuel I forgot about that part, but it was still inconvenient to shift my eyes to the right for the speedometer.

The instruments were clear, though, with black-on-grey dials that were the same at night.

Both the driver and front passenger can take advantage of unique cupholders that pop out from the dash at the left and right extremes. These are deep and can hold a variety of cup sizes, including Starbucks Venti. Unlike similar cupholders that appeared a few years back on some American cars, these can’t be hit with your knees, unless you try hard. There are also smaller cupholders in the door pockets that are ideal for smaller water bottles.

There aren’t a lot of cubby storage areas, but one that I liked was the door pulls. These have bottoms in them that make the door pulls ideal as cell phone holders. The center console is deep and can hold six or seven CDs.

The HVAC system was simple, with three knobs serving all the functions. The audio system was different, but it was intuitive so you don’t have to pore through the owner’s manual to change a station.

Overall, the Toyota Yaris may, in this era of inflated fuel prices, be an almost ideal vehicle. It has room, adequate power, incredible economy and decent comfort for around-town drive or longer hauls as well.

CLICK2COMPARE 2007 Toyota Yaris Vs. 2007 Nissan Versa

2006 The Auto Page Syndicate