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Toyota Yaris: Test Drives & Rentals

SylviaSylvia Member Posts: 1,636
edited March 2014 in Toyota
Did you test drive the Yaris? What did you think?


  • nippononlynippononly Member Posts: 12,555
    I just came back from a test drive. The car I drove was an S-trim sedan, manual shift, stickering at $13,985 with no options at all.

    My initial impressions are all pretty good. The car is much more substantial than my Echo - it doesn't skitter over the top of bad stretches of pavement, where the Echo tends to get unsettled. It has less body lean when cornering, and less noise overall, although while road noise is way down, I think wind noise may actually be up a little. The engine is very muted from inside the cabin.

    It is less peppy than the Echo, but never feels underpowered. You would have to have just stepped out of an Echo the way I had to notice this. I did not so much like the fact that it revs at 2700 rpm at 60 mph in top gear, where, the Echo feels more relaxed at highway speeds. The Yaris manual revs at 3200 rpm at 70 mph. The brakes are nowhere near as strong as the ones on my Echo, but the car is heavier and I bet that also has a lot to do with the fact that the car was brand new - doubtless the brakes need a little time to wear in.

    Inside, I very much like the map lights the new model has, and everything feels very "Toyota", which is a good thing. The HVAC controls are all electronic now, no more having the dials actually pull levers behind the scenes, the way they do in my Echo. The stereo is very good in the S (160-watt version). The base models have a lower-powered stereo. The ipod jack is on the right side of the center stack, and there is a plastic bin there to put the player in after you hook it up. The gauge cluster looks really nice in "Optitron", if a bit bright. Intermittent wipers are standard now, as is the clock, and the rear defogger too (only in the sedan though).

    On the downside, perhaps the stupidest thing is the cupholders. They have moved up from the floor between the seats, where they should be IMO, to fold out of the dash by the window, one on each side. Not only are they shallow little things that have me wondering how long my Super Big Gulp would sit in there before it fell out in my lap from way up there, but also they are RIGHT IN FRONT OF THE SIDE VENTS. I really thought the Japanese carmakers had moved beyond dash-mounted cupholders that hold very little and block the vents or controls.

    As far as the accomodations, there is as much hard plastic as in the Echo, but it looks better. Everywhere you touch is still hard plastic. The steering wheel still feels a little bit cheap when you grab it, but looks better now also. The shifter is definitely better than the one in the Echo, more tight through the gates with less play and shorter throws. The outside mirrors now have little remote handles to adjust them from inside the car, unlike the non-power mirrors in the Echo which make you reach out the window and monkey around. The seats are better bolstered and have better cloth. The driver's seat height adjustment, which as I understand it is only in the 'S' model I drove, is the ratcheting tilt-forward-and-up type that VW uses, not a proper wheel-operated true up and down. There is a lot more room for knees in the back seat, vs the Echo.

    Lastly, I have a bone or two to pick with the contenting here. If you want the factory CD player and 15" rims (there is no stereo at all otherwise, just four speakers), you might as well get the 'S' sedan, because the base sedan comes within a few hundred dollars of the base price of the 'S' once you add in the convenience package that provides those items. The 3-door, of course, still has no tach, and no cruise is available at any price. The 3-door, however, is substantially less expensive than the sedans if you just want the convenience package (more than $1000 less, equipped that way).

    We did a little tour of some cars they had on the lot, and the Yaris has some stiff competition right in its own yard from other Toyotas:

    - they had an xA manual shift, stickered at $13,3, and at that price it is equipped BETTER than the base Yaris with convenience package would be at the same price, because it also has power windows, locks, and mirrors, not to mention ABS. Same powertrain, almost the same mileage.

    - they had a base Corolla CE, which stickers at $14,6 and is equipped exactly as the Yaris sedan with convenience package (which stickers around $13,2) is in terms of features, but has the larger engine with 20% more power, engine immobilizer, etc, not to mention more wiggle room in price negotiation (there is like a $700 spread between invoice and MSRP on the minimally-optioned Yarii) and a bit more space. Plus, it actually does a point BETTER in fuel economy on the highway. And has non-silly cupholders. But is also very very common, and is a 4-year-old model. So, $1400 more for more engine, a bit more more space, a few more features (power mirrors are standard on Corolla, for instance), some soft-touch plastics around the cabin, and more wiggle room in price negotiation.

    All in all, it is hard to say what I would do if I were buying today. The xA is a heck of a deal, and the Corolla is more peppy and gets better mileage for maybe an extra $800-1000 stretch. The Yaris is the best-looking of the three to me, though.

    But the Yaris 3-door, equipped only with convenience package (gotta have the CD! :-)) is probably the deal of the bunch, if I could get past the fact that they omitted the tach from that model AGAIN, the same way they did in my Echo. :mad:

    2014 Mini Cooper (stick shift of course), 2016 Camry hybrid, 2009 Outback Sport 5-spd (keeping the stick alive)

  • reddroverrreddroverr Member Posts: 509
    wow that is a glitch with the cup holder.

    Personally, I like the looks of the Yaris hatch better than the Scion.

    Thanks for the report.
  • alexcoalexco Member Posts: 1
    I drove a MT version Tuesday 4/11/07. It was very tight and needed break-in. Center of gravity was higher than my old corrolla. It sold 2 days after hitting the lot. There are about a dozen available in the metro-Phoenix area but the rest are sedans with gas-guzzler automatics in them. AC was good as we are using it already in Phoenix. The tires were still too new to get a good feel for handling. After a week of scuff-up one should be able to get a feel for evasive maneuvers. With transplanted road-rage california drivers you need to be able to steer and reload at the same time.
  • backybacky Member Posts: 18,949
    The automatic is hardly a "gas-guzzler." The manual is EPA rated 34/40, the automatic 34/39. Not a big difference.
  • nippononlynippononly Member Posts: 12,555
    You were lucky. 3-doors are SO hard to find! How was yours equipped? Convenience package, power package, or nada except floor mats?

    I LOVE the look of the hatch, the sedan not so much. I could live with the 1-piece back seat that doesn't go all the way down to get a car with just the convenience package and purchase for about $12K.

    In an interesting turn of events, my local dealer just got a base sedan with a stick and no options at all, which brings the sticker to $12,5. It looks a bit weird with the smaller rims - same problem my Echo has, although the Yaris doesn't look as weird! :-P

    2014 Mini Cooper (stick shift of course), 2016 Camry hybrid, 2009 Outback Sport 5-spd (keeping the stick alive)

  • micwebmicweb Member Posts: 1,617
    I have owned an Echo automatic and xA stick shift and drove each for my typical 10,000 miles before trading them in. I am writing this brief test-drive impressions on the Liftback from that perspective.

    The Yaris liftback is much improved over both the Echo and the xA, although the xA interior still looks and feels like a little Lexus while the Yaris looks and feels like a little (and quirky) Corolla.

    Although the Yaris liftback cabin is well put together (no trim fit/warp issues like the Lienert's noted in their 2007 Camry review), it's about as bargain basement as it gets these days. The center arm rest, an option, is especially rickety and degrades from the general cabin appearance. The lower panels on the doors are plain "Rubber Maid" plastic with no texture, and since you have to reach there for the window cranks, you will be reminded of this cost-cutting portion of the interior.

    The 2006 Kia Rio interior is actually much nicer (and unlike Backy and iluvmysephia, I am not a fan of Korean cars).

    Despite the negative sound of my comments on the interior, the Yaris is still much nicer than the Echo and not THAT much below the Scion xA - it's just that since 2003 when I had the Echo, the state of small cars has gotten much better (Cobalts are in Golf Mark IV territory in terms of interior appearance, the Scions with their wonderful interiors came out, the Kias and Hyundais are upgraded, etc.). In summary, I wouldn't have any problem driving a Yaris liftback as a commuter, but I'd be a little bashful about inviting a colleague from work to hop drive over to lunch in one. I wouldn't be in my Cobalt, and given that the Cobalt gets similar mileage (in real world driving), it's the old problem of why get a smaller car for more money? But I digress.

    From the outside, the Liftback is wonderful! Great design, the most fun design I have seen in years, I would have loved to see this design from VW. It is totally unexpected from Toyota. (I also looked at Corollas this weekend and those things are just toasters.)

    When I pulled away from the dealer's lot with the salesman (about 220 pounds to my 170) in the car and the aircon on, I expected this heavier-than-the-Echo replacement to be sluggish. On the contrary, it felt like it hauled monkey butt. This may have been due to an aggressive tip-in on the throttle - I can assure you I was using very little of the throttle, since I take it easy on test drives - or it may have been due to revised gearing on the automatic tranny. Or it may have been due to the apparent revised VVT valve timing profile (although hp is up about 5 from the Echo - a real 5, after taking into account the adoption of the SAE testing standard, the power I experienced was readily available at low and mid rpm).

    The transmission allowed the car to hold an optimal gear rather than shifting early, which is a brave design decision given the amount of engine roar that comes into the passenger compartment from the engine when it is revving up (the noise was non-existent at 70 mph cruise on the freeway, where light wind noise dominated). I didn't experience any tire roar as reported by some other reviewers on the average freeway surface I drove on. The tires were the 15" Bridgestone RE92's, and it seems that despite the generally poor reviews on this "line" of Bridgestone tires at tirerack.com, in fact Toyota must have given OEM specs to Bridgestone that turn this tire into a grippy relatively quiet and smooth performer. If I were to own this car, there would be no immediate pressure to upgrade the tires.

    In addition to a stronger engine, with peppier acceleration, the ride and handling were better than either the Echo or xA. The firmness was in the middle of those two cars - not wallowy like the Echo, not harsh like the xA. In some strong crosswinds, as evidenced by bushes along the side of the freeway getting blow around, there was only a slight feedback into the steering wheel. This is a car that can easily cruise the freeways, something I could not say about the Echo.

    On the other hand, it lacks the Echo's tall seating position and open, spacious cabin feel. The Yaris liftback is more similar to a conventional hatchback. On the other hand, it never felt tippy like the Echo always did.

    The trunk is better than on the xA, but nothing compared to the gargantuan trunk on the Echo sedan. It is marginally useful, while the xA's was marginally useless. The hatch cover is solid on portion nearest the liftback, with a flexible rear felt portion that sticks to the seatbacks via velcro on the rear seat. This is how Toyota adapts the mechanism for the tilt/slide rear seat feature on some trim lines. When folded flat, the rear seat (not split on the base model) is mostly flat. Two people could go car camping in this mode if they packed carefully. Two people are not going to pick up a third at the airport if the third has any significant luggage.

    The main appeal of the Yaris to me is its uniqueness, scarcity, high gas mileage, and FTD (fun to drive) factor. I would recommend it to any young sporty male, and the young at heart, but steer single moms to the much heavier, and presumably more crashworthy, Chevy Cobalt which actually stickers lower than either of the Yarii if you stay away from options.

    One final comment. The Echo drove me nuts with its outside mirrors - there was no interior lever to adjust the view, you had to crank the windows down to adjust the mirror angle. That's not so bad, but the housing for the mirrors moved with the mirrors, so everytime I went through a car wash, I had to readjust both outside mirrors. The Yaris liftback uses fixed housings with a mirror on the inside that you adjust, so unless you switch drivers, the lack of an interior adjustment shouldn't be a problem.
  • reddroverrreddroverr Member Posts: 509
    Interestingly, I sat in a Yaris with dark interior at an auto show, and the interior didn't seem "cheapy" to me, considering it is a lower end car. However, I just watched Motorweek and they reviewed the Yaris. The lighter colored interior they had on their car definitely looked a bit cheapish to me.
  • micwebmicweb Member Posts: 1,617
    You said in part -

    considering it is a lower end car

    I absolutely agree. The first time I sat in a Yaris, a week and a half ago, it seemed nicer than expected. But we have been shopping for a replacement car for our minivan (crashed) and I have been used to seeing Malibu's and '07 Camry's, so the psychological frame of reference is a little different. Part of the "niceness" of the xA, I am sure, is all those free bells and whistles (power mirrors, door locks) and jazzy stereo unit (at least it looked snazzy until you tried to use it), in addition to the finish on the plastic panels.

    But I joke not about the optional center armrest. I did the "sit behind myself" test of rear seat room and noted that the optional center armrest is anchored to the seat bolts on each side by a vertical run of a couple of wire frames that look a heck of a lot like coat hanger wire, in gauge and finish!
  • reddroverrreddroverr Member Posts: 509
    The thing that struck me about the Scion xa was the very strange material the dash was made of. I would have opted for the optional cover, had I bought one.
  • kato1kato1 Member Posts: 64
    "I'd be a little bashful about inviting a colleague from work to hop drive over to lunch in one. I wouldn't be in my Cobalt, and given that the Cobalt gets similar mileage (in real world driving)"

    sorry, i just dont think there is any truth to that statement. the guys i know that work for a local, fairly high volume chevy dealer would love to know to what cobalt you are referring. they are having far too many customers buying cobalts, then weeks or months later coming in to complain that the car isnt getting near the epa estimates. (pretty sad considering the epa numbers on the cobalt are an anemic 25/34 on the manual)--ive seen similar complaints w/dodge caliber. i also know 3 people personally who drive cobalts. they get around the epa estimates, but still i consider that quite poor for its class.(compared to its rivals, civic, corolla)

    not only are epa estimates for yaris much higher, i see few people not achieving those numbers or close to them.

    imo, cobalts "real world mileage" is disturbingly diappointing--as is the aveo, not surprisingly.
  • micwebmicweb Member Posts: 1,617
    I did an extensive post on my gas mileage history in the PT Cruiser thread - but briefly, the only cars that have hit 35 mpg for me are the Cobalt with manual transmission, xA with manual transmission, and Neon with manual transmission. All on the same freeway commute to work. A PZEV 2.0 Focus ZX3 returned 33 mpg with a stick shift, most of the other commuter cars I have owned returned 30. My mileage is right in line with Consumer Reports tests, which report city mileage, 150 mile round trip, and steady state freeway mileage. The measure with a meter, so their tests are very accurate. I usually get somewhere between the 150 mile trip mileage and the optimal steady state freeway cruise mileage; I am an easy driver. I also owned a 2004 Cavalier with the same Ecotec engine and it did very well too. Since it was lighter, I expected the Cobalt to get less mileage, but it gets better.

    For gas mileage, a LOT depends on your driving route and driving habits. It doesn't take much city driving AT ALL to bring down a highway average. It doesn't take much aircon or lead foot to bring down city mileage.

    Finally, Car and Driver reported their Cobalt was one of the best mileage cars they had. The numbers they reported weren't very good - but they are very hard drivers. Other cars took more mileage hits.
  • nippononlynippononly Member Posts: 12,555
    In C&D's review, this is Cobalt: "Returning 27 mpg over 600 miles"

    from here:

    and in C&D testing, Yaris managed to pull: "36 mpg, the best we observed"

    from here:

    It appears Yaris will save most folks 25% or more on their gas bills vs the Cobalt. Just to provide everyone with a standardized frame of reference. :-)

    Most folks in the Yaris thread seem to be reporting everyday mileage of around 38 mpg, slightly worse than the 41 mpg running average I manage in my Echo.

    2014 Mini Cooper (stick shift of course), 2016 Camry hybrid, 2009 Outback Sport 5-spd (keeping the stick alive)

  • sonatabeansonatabean Member Posts: 201
    I finally drove a base sedan, auto, air.

    At in town-speeds, the car is downright zippy, nimble, and corners well. Acceleration is fine - even with the auto.

    The AC was pretty decent, too. Cold. Had to blast the crap out of the AC to get cold, but at least it GOT cold: there was none of this tepid "cooler than painful death by roasting" crap common to economy cars.

    BUT -

    (1) I HATE the stupid "centerpod" groovy-funky-teenager dashboard. The speedometer is not clearly readable, nor is it conveniently in the sightline while driving. Add the location and it was exactly what the Edmunds expert called it: a gimmicky annoyance.

    (2) The interior plastics are way-cheap and way-tacky. I'm speaking on the scale of "1987 Hyundai Excel" here. Plus, the door panels? Hard plastic. CRAPPY hard plastic.

    (3) As for the whole debate above, "The Yaris does not have a temperature gauge," let me add that the Yaris does not have ANY gauges outside the weird centerpod speedo. The tach is only available on SOME models. As for any other data to give a clue about "how are my engine and transmission functioning?" Forget it: we have returned to the 1950s idiot lights so popular in cars of that (thankfully) gone Era.

    In sum, I hate this car. It had SO much potential and really nice sheet metal . . . but from my experience? It will be well-made, reliable, well-bodied crap.

    Which means that, for me, the Corolla is the option. Unlike the Yaris, the Corolla avoids key flaws (and has key features) noted above. And, at only a couple of grand more, that makes it the better buy from my perspective.
  • lhansonlhanson Member Posts: 268
    Give it time, every time you go to refuel it at 37 MPG in city driving, (what I am getting with mine)and it will grow on you more and more. Of course, you can spend twice as much on a Prius and get another 7 mpg.
  • sonatabeansonatabean Member Posts: 201
    Actually, the rumor mill says Hybrid Synergy Drive will be available on the revised Corolla: I'll be holding out for that.

    OR - the next option would be a Civic Hybrid.

    Hit the same numbers, but without the irritating factors: I love small, sporty, zippy, high-MPG cars.

    My litmus test, though, is also "do I actually *LIKE* the car?"

    I like the Corolla. The Civic is okay.

    I simply did not like the Yaris - but I made that clear already.
  • kato1kato1 Member Posts: 64
    this is the direction i went as well, especially based on real world mileage reports of corolla owners, especially 5-speed owners. ive not been disappointed. my last 4 tank fulls have been:

    39.1 mpg (60% hwy/40% city)
    39.8 mpg (same mix)
    41.9 mpg (80/20 mix)
    43.1 mpg (90% hwy at 65-70 mph)

    i almost never go below 38 mpg, and only with a majority of city driving. the extra cost of a hybrid will never be recovered from extra mileage, as, for example, prius real world highway mileage has been much lower than epa estimates. hybrids do their best work in city driving, but many of us put the bulk of miles on cars in non city conditions.

    while the car is not perfect (ive found a seating position that suits me, but next gen should have a scoping steering wheel) it does what it is supposed to. its not sporty or fast, but neither is fit or yaris or versa. the killer for the yaris to me was the rear seat in the hatch is not split 60/40. so, when i have 2 passenger and want to carry a longer object ( which has already happened a few times) i can do it in the corolla but not in the yaris. a hatchback should be more, not less versatile. i know you can get the split rear seat, but its just not something one should pay extra for.

    the other deal killer was that the yarii that were on the lot when i bought the corolla werent going to save me much, if any money.

    i think as the release of the 08 corolla approaches (likely spring/summer 07) people will be scrambling to get the last batch of 07 corollas(great mileage, quite often for less than 15k) since the 08 will certainly cost somewhat more.

    you can hold out for a hybrid corolla, but it will most certainly cost, in base form, 6-8k more than the 15k that will buy you the current corolla. given the outstanding mileage of the non hybrid version, that car better pull 50+ mpg real world highway mileage.
  • ftrftr Member Posts: 8
    To each his own I say. I average 38 mpg in my Yaris liftback, and I have a 60/40 split back seat and power locks and windows for the mere price of $13,800. It boils down to one thing.... you have to buy what makes you happy. The Yaris makes me happy, the Corolla makes you happy ;) I like driving something with a distinct body style. There are some that come close, until you look at the front ends. Anyway.... I'll defend my little Yaris forever. I know I know, I am a women and the "cute" factor wins out every time :)
  • lhansonlhanson Member Posts: 268
    What year is your Corolla MT and how much did you pay for it? Last time I went to a Toyota dealer, they had about 60 2006 Corollas to choose from, all AT's. Said they don't carry the MT's, because they can't sell them. Of course the salesman, a friend of mine, wouldn't even try to help me find the only Yaris they had on the lot. I had to go to another dealer in town and bought the only Hatchback Yaris on their lot (a MT)at full MSRP.
  • kato1kato1 Member Posts: 64
    my corolla is a 2006 ce model. i paid $14100 plus tax. it had the cruise/power door lock package. i must admit getting a manual transmission was a hastle. the dealer had none, nor any arriving any time soon. they had to deal with an out of town dealer to get a manual in the color i wanted, and they acted like i was asking them to sacrifice their first born child. i dont believe any dealer who says they dont carry manuals cause they cant sell them. toyota just doesnt make very many, period.

    actually, i quite like the outside looks of the yaris hb. i would have been willing to buy a yaris hatch model stripped for $10,950 plus dest charges. however, i soon realized they wouldnt be making any true base models any time soon.
  • lhansonlhanson Member Posts: 268
    That's not too bad a price; I paid 12,498 for my Yaris MT with power nothing (which I don't really care about). The only extras that came with it were the All-Weather Guard Package, the Convenience Package, Cargo Net, Floor Mats, and First Aid Kit. The one thing I didn't like about the Corolla was that it didn't have the MP3/WMA capability that the Yaris has. I would have liked to have had the cruise control, but I use the MP3 all time while I would hardly ever use the Cruise Control if I had it.
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