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Intrepidation

Edmunds Full Test: 2007 Toyota Yaris

25 posts in this topic

Toyota fails to build a better Corolla

By Ed Hellwig Email

Date posted: 04-06-2006

Ten years ago an inexpensive, comfortable, well-built car like the 2007 Toyota Yaris would have been a slam dunk. In fact, it was a slam dunk. It was called the Corolla and it was one of the best-selling compact sedans of its time.

But over the last decade, compact sedan buyers got greedy. They asked for more room, better features and increased horsepower. Toyota listened, building a larger Corolla with more standard features and a bigger engine.

Now with gas prices at nearly $3 a gallon, those same buyers suddenly have a conscience. They've joined Greenpeace, bought hemp socks and started looking for smaller, cheaper and more fuel-efficient sedans. Cars like the Yaris.

Not always inexpensive

As the cheapest machine in Toyota's lineup, the Yaris competes with other new subcompacts like the 2007 Honda Fit and 2007 Nissan Versa, as well as the Hyundai Accent and Chevrolet Aveo.

There are two body styles — a slightly cheaper three-door Yaris hatchback and the four-door Yaris sedan — but only the sedan offers an upgraded "S" model. Yeah, even subcompacts get the sport treatment these days. A Yaris S sedan, like our test car, gets extra body cladding, bigger 15-inch wheels and a CD stereo with an auxiliary input jack.

With the optional four-speed automatic, the Yaris S starts at $14,050, but equipped with nearly every available option like our test car, the price tops out at $17,045. The extra $3 grand added the Power package with antilock brakes; power windows, locks and mirrors; cruise control; a tachometer; and upgraded interior trim, along with stand-alone options like side curtain airbags, foglamps and keyless entry.

21st-century Corolla

Despite its subcompact label, the Yaris is longer, wider and heavier than the Echo it replaces and about the same size as that best-selling Corolla from a decade ago.

It also has a longer wheelbase, which is why the Yaris doesn't feel like a subcompact from inside. In fact, the Yaris has more front legroom than a current-generation Corolla and the Yaris is only half an inch shy of its bigger brother in the headroom department. Shoulder room, however, is 2 inches tighter compared to the Corolla.

Passenger room in back is surprisingly good, with slightly more rear legroom than the Corolla. With the driver seat adjusted for a 6-footer there's enough space behind the seat for an average-sized adult to sit without bumping his head or knees. There's good toe room under the front seats as well.

Classing it up

Toyota calls the Yaris' interior design "class-up" styling, and at first glance it looks a little more stylish than your average econobox. Surely, the optional metallic trim on our test car helped.

The V-shaped center stack uses a pedestal design, which looks interesting, but with no room for cupholders it's not very practical. All the controls on the stack itself are well organized, and the center-mounted gauges that sit on top look to be Camry-grade stuff. Putting the gauges in the middle isn't our preferred setup, but in a car with 106 horsepower you don't spend much time worrying about your speed.

Standard height-adjustable front seats and a tilt steering wheel are unexpected features for this segment. If you're tall the driver seat still doesn't adjust low enough, however, and the vinyl steering wheel feels cheap no matter how perfectly you adjust it.

Trunk space is about average at 12.9 cubic feet. The hatchback versions of the Yaris and the Fit offer more cargo room, but the trunk in the Hyundai Accent sedan is slightly smaller.

Style comes at a price

As slick as the Yaris looks on the inside, the design botches simple things like decent cupholders. Instead of putting them between the seats where they should be, Toyota placed one on each side of the dashboard. They're not only poorly placed; they're too shallow to hold big cups and too high to trust with a hot cup of coffee.

Storage space is a problem, too, as the only accessible bins sit behind the base of the center stack. Try fishing your Razr phone out of there a few times and the cool pedestal design suddenly seems as dumb as the cupholders you can't reach.

Those bins house the auxiliary plug for the stereo, however, so they are useful for holding your iPod. Sound quality from the upgraded MP3-capable stereo is decent, but with black numbers on a dull green background the faceplate isn't always easy to see.

Efficient power

Only one engine is offered: a 1.5-liter inline four-cylinder with Toyota's latest VVT-i technology. It produces 106 hp at 6,000 rpm and 103 pound-feet of torque at 4,200 rpm. Decent numbers for the segment, but the engine is loud at full throttle and with so little power you find yourself digging into the gas often.

The good news is that it's easy on the gas card. We averaged 32.9 mpg over a week of daily driving.

Shifts from the four-speed automatic are reasonably quick and the gearing feels about right. At the track, our Yaris turned in a 0-60 time of 10.8 seconds. A Honda Fit with a manual will do the same in 9.2. The quarter-mile takes 17.8 seconds in the Yaris; the Fit does it in 16.7.

Like the Fit, the Yaris has excellent brakes. Its best stop from 60 mph was 122 feet.

Imported, from Europe

Although the Yaris has been on sale in Europe since 1999, the U.S. version is an all-new vehicle built on a unique chassis. Toyota claims its MacPherson strut front suspension and torsion bar rear suspension result in better handling, less interior noise and a smoother ride.

It got part of it right. The Yaris blew through our slalom at 65.9 mph, slower than the Fit (67.5) but faster than a Pontiac Solstice. Despite that athleticism, the Yaris S isn't much fun to toss around due to its substantial body roll and minimal steering feedback.

Ride quality on the highway is much improved over the Echo. You don't feel every crack in the pavement and wind gusts no longer redirect you into the next lane. There's less road noise, too.

When you're driving the Yaris around town, the word "competent" often comes to mind. Not "refined" or "sporty" or "fun": just "competent." The steering is light for easy parking maneuvers and the turning circle is tighter than the Fit by 2 feet. Basically it feels secure and comfortable, nothing more.

Some are more valuable than others

Ten years ago the Corolla was the standard against which every other subcompact was measured. These days, however, it's clear the competition has looked to a higher standard than the Yaris.

For $2 grand less than the price of our test car, you could get a similarly equipped Hyundai Accent with a better warranty, an equally spacious interior and decent cupholders. Or for $16K you could go with the loaded Honda Fit Sport, which is more fun to drive and has a better stereo, superior ergonomics and a more flexible interior.

Any way you look at it, the 2007 Toyota Yaris is average. And when you're trying to save the world, average doesn't cut it. Even people who wear hemp socks know that.

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What exactly is stylish about a sea of cheap black plastic?

Go sit in a G6 and tell me.

Toyota goofed by not putting power everything, ABS and side airbags as standard equipment on all models or at least the sedan, and it is a expensive in loaded form. The cupholder situation sucks, too. I think some things will change when its refreshed in a few years, though.

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What exactly is stylish about a sea of cheap black plastic?

You're thinking of the 3door. The sedan looks like this:

Posted Image

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Go sit in a G6 and tell me.

I have...and its all black plastic...still cheap but much nicer than the Yaris....which it should be.

The yaris is too expensive, has that lame center speedo still and as mentioned (at least in the 3 door) has a nasty cheap interior. Tapping on the dashboard and having it feel like the dashboard is hollow doesn't exactly give feelings of quality.

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I am very surprised at how toyota botched this.

oh well.

to those who have been preaching how 110 horsepower is enough in a car/urban commuter, let's see...what did they say?

"so little power you find yourself digging into the gas often"

Edited by regfootball

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OUCH!!!

Am I the only one who finds this HORRIBLY embarrasing?

Well, read also where they remark how unfun it was because of the squirrly handling and excessive bodyroll. I doubt I'd have that tippy feeling in a Solstice.

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Wow, they sure put a bad face on the Yaris. They might as well come right out and say "buy a Fit instead".

I'm surprised at how un-feature full the base model Yaris is. No antilock brakes, power windows, locks and mirrors, cruise control, a tachometer, or side curtain airbags.

From Edmund's performance times, it makes the Yaris look like a slug. The Fit does both the 1/4 and 0-60 over a second faster, although they're comparing a 5sp manual to a 4sp Auto. I'll bet the 5sp auto Fit still has a good margin on the Yaris though.

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More than anything else, this review drives home how much higher the standards have come in the last ten years. Whereas, back then, the Yaris would've been a hit, it is an "Average" car today... and for crummy cupholders and storage bins!

Having said that, I think Toyota expects the Yaris to fail, or at least, do poorly. It seems from this review like they did the car pretty half-assed. Plus, it will start to look really dated once the next generation SCIONs come out, which is what Toyota really wants consumers to buy, anway.

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It just goes to show you that Edmunds isn't an import humper after all :P Toyota doesn't seem to know how to build a good small car anymore (aside from the tC)...I wonder if the next Corolla will end up sucking too.

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Toyota recognizes Scion is their compact market. They're designed to have value. The Yaris is designed to simply be cheap.

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Toyota recognizes Scion is their compact market. They're designed to have value. The Yaris is designed to simply be cheap.

ANd it can't even do that right. Note the 17k sticker.

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I am very surprised at how toyota botched this.

oh well.

to those who have been preaching how 110 horsepower is enough in a car/urban commuter, let's see...what did they say?

"so little power you find yourself digging into the gas often"

They should have said "so little power low down …"

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Wow. So the 'news' here is that Toyota's base model (in its entire US line-up) is:

a. not fun

b. quirky looking

c. efficient

d. underpowered

e. expensive in its top-level form

That describes each of their Echoes, Tercels and Starlets for 25 years. And, who's arguing that this car's plastic quality is worth discussing? Is this what we're reduced to? Yes. The G6 plastics should be good enough that the model doesn't get compared with a lowly Toyota bottom breather. That it does on a GM-centric site is the tragedy here.

The Yaris is a european oriented vehicle that does not fit in with the driving/ lifestyle needs of 90% of Americans. (Just like BOF SUV's, ironically enough.)

Edited by enzl

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More than anything else, this review drives home how much higher the standards have come in the last ten years. Whereas, back then, the Yaris would've been a hit, it is an "Average" car today... and for crummy cupholders and storage bins!

Having said that, I think Toyota expects the Yaris to fail, or at least, do poorly. It seems from this review like they did the car pretty half-assed. Plus, it will start to look really dated once the next generation SCIONs come out, which is what Toyota really wants consumers to buy, anway.

you might be right. first off, they don't want it stealing corolla and scion sales. secondly, the echo/yaris are really only sold here because they sell like hotcakes in canada and the canucks get all wet over them. so to bring a few over to the US is like gravy, whatever they sell. its all gravy right now considering the hybrid prius and CAMlee are really what they want AMURCHANS to buy for fuel economy.

Edited by regfootball

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Fully loaded.

I don't care, that's still rediculous for a subcompact. You can get a nicely equiped Civic, Caliber, or Cobalt for that or less. You could get a top-of-the-line Focus too. More power and features, plus better handling and more fun to drive even if it's aging. And don't even factor in the Aveo or Accent or Rio, which top out a 3-4k less than the Yaris. You could get a base Malibu, Sonata, Fusion or Stratus too. The Fit is a better car with better drivetrain, more fun to drive and has the gauges in the right damn place, not to mention it tops out at 15k. (Prices looked up at Edmunds).

Edited by Dodgefan

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I don't care, that's still rediculous for a subcompact. You can get a nicely equiped Civic, Caliber, or Cobalt for that or less. You could get a top-of-the-line Focus too. More power and features, plus better handling and more fun to drive even if it's aging. And don't even factor in the Aveo or Accent or Rio, which top out a 3-4k less than the Yaris. You could get a base Malibu, Sonata, Fusion or Stratus too. The Fit is a better car with better drivetrain, more fun to drive and has the gauges in the right damn place, not to mention it tops out at 15k. (Prices looked up at Edmunds).

Like I said before, the price is on the high side and some features, like power everything, ABS and side airbags should be standard on the sedan, at least. Have you driven the Yaris? If not, you cannot compare it to the recall ridden and aging Ford Focus.

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Like I said before, the price is on the high side and some features, like power everything, ABS and side airbags should be standard on the sedan, at least.  Have you driven the Yaris?  If not, you cannot compare it to the recall ridden and aging Ford Focus.

Well I admit you have me their about not driving a Yaris, but I doubt I ever will, that gauge placement alone is enough to make me not want it. As for the Focus, it had recalls only in it's early life, and even then, a friend of mine has a 2001 and hasn't had any issues with it. Also, the fact the the Focus is older yet handles better and has more power proves how sad the Yaris is.

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my sister never had any issues with her early model focus.

now, focus is among the most reliable compacts in the US.

a focus is still a good buy. stripped ones sell for 10g, and nice equipped ones for mid teens.

the ST has about 153 hp which is an advantage over Yaris. I'd like to see them have a Focus with about 200hp.

Everyone I know including myself who's driven a FOcus like the handling and space and seating position.

Edited by regfootball

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