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  • William Maley
    William Maley

    2013 Toyota Yaris L 3-Door

      IT'S A CAR! Okay then...

    William Maley

    Staff Writer - CheersandGears.com

    December 4, 2013

    When Toyota introduced the refreshed Yaris subcompact last year, they also introduced a new tagline which is somewhat questionable. The tagline was "Yaris, it's a car!" So we know the Yaris is a car and not anything else, but is it one that you should go out and spend your money on? I spent a week with the 2013 Yaris L three-door to find out.

    Let's start with the obvious: This particular Yaris is a three-door model, which happens to be the only three-door subcompact on sale in the U.S. As for the design, Toyota cleaned up the Yaris by smoothing out some of the lines and removing some questionable details such as a single black push button/handle found on the previous model's tailgate. The front also sees some minor changes with a new front clip and headlights.

    2013 Toyota Yaris L 3 Door 6

    Inside, the Yaris has just the bare essentials. This is due to this particular model being the base L. There is a wide dash that is mostly bare aside from the radio and climate controls sitting in the middle. Materials are pretty poor with hard plastic along the dash and door panels that look very cheap. I know that the Yaris L is a cheap car, but other vehicles with similar starting price use better materials. Two examples of this are the Kia Rio and Chevrolet Sonic.

    As for features, it's an odd game of 'it has this, but not that'. You get a radio that is very much familiar to the Scion FR-S and comes with CD, USB and Aux inputs and Bluetooth. Also standard is air conditioning. What isn't standard is a height adjustment for the front seats and remote mirrors. For those, you have to step up to the LE which costs only costs $935 more when compared to the price of the L model when equipped with the automatic.

    2013 Toyota Yaris L 3 Door 10

    As for seating comfort, the front seats provided sufficient support. Without the ability to adjust the seat height, I always felt that I was sitting atop a milk crate while driving. The back seats provide decent legroom. Headroom is tight for those above 5'5" as your head will be touching the roof.

    For more on the engine and what it's like to drive, see the next page.

    Powering the Yaris is a 1.5L DOHC four-cylinder engine with 106 horsepower and 103 pound-feet of torque. A five-speed manual comes standard on the L 3-Door, but our tester was equipped with the optional four-speed automatic transmission. With all of this 'performance', the Yaris L shows significant signs of struggle. You have to have your foot close or almost to the floor to attempt passing, merging, and even trying to keep up with traffic sometimes. The four-speed automatic does its best to try and keep the vehicle moving, but you can tell it's working its heart out. This is a vehicle that deserves an extra 20 to 30 horsepower and torque, and two more gear ratios. Fuel economy wise, the EPA rates the Yaris L 3-Door at 30 City/35 Highway/32 Combined. My average for the week was 32.1 MPG. That is good, but competitors with a bit more oomph can match and exceed that.

    2013 Toyota Yaris L 3 Door 8

    The Yaris L's ride is actually surprising. When you think of a subcompact, you think darty and sporty. The Yaris is not quite that. The ride is actually very soft, which means you don't feel bumps and road imperfections that much. It also means the Yaris isn't the vehicle you want to have some fun with thanks to the suspension and skinny tires. The steering weight is right in the middle, but kind of numb in feel. This isn't a deal breaker at all. What could be a deal breaker is the amount of road, wind, and engine noise coming into the cabin. There were times when I had to turn up the radio because of the cacophony of noises.

    Toyota completely missed the mark with the 2013 Yaris. It seems that the team working on it were trying to build a vehicle for the 2000s when everybody else was trying to build one for this decade. Just looking at the Yaris and comparing it to other vehicles such as the RAV4 and Avalon, I know Toyota can do much better.

    That's not even the biggest problem for the Yaris L; it's the poor value for the money. As I eluded to earlier, you can step up to the LE 3-Door for only $935 more which nets you height adjustment, remote mirrors, cruise control, and loads of other features. Why would you buy the Yaris L over the LE? The only reason I see is that you have $935 in your pocket, but you also have a bad value. You could also check out the Nissan Versa Note or Kia Rio LX for around the same money as the Yaris L and get much more equipment and a better value for money argument.

    The Toyota Yaris L is indeed a car... and that's about all anyone, even Toyota, can think of to say about it.

    2013 Toyota Yaris L 3 Door 3

    Click Pictures to Enlarge

    Disclaimer: Toyota Provided the Yaris, Insurance, and One Tank of Gas

    Year: 2013

    Make: Toyota

    Model: Yaris 3-Door

    Trim: L

    Engine: 1.5L 16-valve DOHC with VVT-i four-cylinder

    Driveline: Front-Wheel Drive, Four-Speed Automatic

    Horsepower @ RPM: 106 @ 6,000

    Torque @ RPM: 103 @ 4,200

    Fuel Economy: City/Highway/Combined - 30/36/32

    Curb Weight: 2,315 lbs

    Location of Manufacture: Kanegasaki, Japan

    Base Price: $15,095

    As Tested Price: $16,477 (Includes $795.00 Destination Charge)


    Rear Spoiler - $329.00

    Carpeted Floor Mats/Cargo Mats - $180.00

    Cargo Net - $49.00

    First Aid Kit - $29.00

    William Maley is a staff writer for Cheers & Gears. He can be reached at [email protected]or you can follow him on twitter at @realmudmonster.

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    Nice write up, seems to be a bland basic people mover for commuting. At least it looks a little better than the older model but the interior is pathetic. You are so right that for this price point, they have gone way to cheap and yet people will buy it blindly due to the Toyota name rather than look at better alternatives. It will sell, but I cannot say it will be a home run hit.

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    The first 2 generations of the Yaris/Vitz have sold in excess of 3 1/2 million vehicles in 12 years...hardly a 'fail' by any auto manufacturers standards I would imagine. Drive one or two of these cars for years and rack up 100 or 200 thousand miles on one and you will see why they still build them.

    Reliability is unreal. Things do NOT fall apart on these little cars!

    At 40,000 miles your typical GM, Ford, Chrysler, Kia or Hyundai vehicle is feeling like a 40 year old hooker...not the Yaris, it's just getting broken in -

    to me, it's not bland, just basic point A to point B transportation that is really fun to drive. You sit high with excellent visbility. Stereos are great - gas mpg's are way conservative. It has decent creature comforts and everything on this car always works. You can even run through 3 or 4 sets of tires before you need a brake job!

    People who 'blindly' stumble on this Toyota are really very fortunate to have done so -

    Thanks for the review

    Edited by yougojay
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    Jay thanks for calling a spade a spade. We cannot ignore the truth. Anyone who works around different kinds of cars knows that what you say about the humble little Yaris, and the Echo before it, is true. My mother still, from time to time, brings up her fond memories of the Echo she owned, that is, until I talked her into a Cobalt, which she never liked.

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    one trick pony. the only thing it has going is reliability.

    Which, for an urban environment with minimal needs other than carrying 2 or 3 people and while being on a tight budget (either by necessity or by a conscious choice of frugality) is really all one needs... Why have a ton of gizmos if they break down all the time?

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    Thanks Ocean, always like your posts. Just especially fond of this car, it always give and never takes.

    So many cars out there end up being money pits if you want to keep them for an extended period of time.

    I believe many car problems (no matter who the maker is) are due to lack of maintenance & hard driving. We're a throw-away society - most drivers just don't care...they put gas in it and run it through a car wash a few times a year.

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    one trick pony. the only thing it has going is reliability.

    Which, for an urban environment with minimal needs other than carrying 2 or 3 people and while being on a tight budget (either by necessity or by a conscious choice of frugality) is really all one needs... Why have a ton of gizmos if they break down all the time?


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    A ton of gizmos has sent customer satisfaction (example: MyFordTouch?) into the crapper. We do not need a ton of gizmos!

    Gizmos BREAK, they always do!

    I don't NEED a TV screen on my friggin' dashboard!

    I like the crank windows in my Yaris' - they help keep my 22'' biceps in shape :)

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    LOL, no they are pretty easy to crank...only power locks are standard on the base 'L' model. It's pretty cool...you can turn the ignition off & then 'oh, I forgot to roll up the window', then just crank it up!

    Last car I had crank windows on was my '88 Fiero Formula...they worked flawlessly, along with the rest of the car. 89,000 miles in 7 years with only one problem, replaced the temp. gauge on the dashboard. I miss the 80's :)

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