It’s a point I’ve been making for many years, but hatchback body designs are always a better bet for people who carry bulky loads from time to time. Sedans are all very well, but fold the rear seatback down in even a small hatchback like the Toyota Yaris and you have a large volume of unobstructed space.
The Yaris is a subcompact and has a very small “footprint.” It’s thus very easy to maneuverand park around town and boasts the excellent fuel economy that characterizes cars in this class. Despite this diminutive size, it’s perfectly happy on the freeway at the speeds we drive at in Canada and is surprisingly comfortable fora short wheelbase vehicle. Toyota offers two and four-door versions of this product.
The 5-seater Yaris is powered by a compact 1.5-litre 4-cylinder engine developing 106 peak horsepower. This is no sports car, but it gets off the mark quickly enough not to embarrass the driver when moving in fast traffic. Buyers have a choice of a 5-speed manual transmission or a 4-speed automatic. I’ve tried both engines and there’s not much to choose between the two. Perhaps the car is a little quicker with the manual, but not dramatically so. The car rides on what Toyota calls “Euro-tuned suspension” and with its responsive steering and braking, this is a fun car to drive. Also worth mentioning is the tight turning circle the Yaris is endowed with – quite an asset on city streets.
Although many might view the Yaris as an “economy car” that needs a slew of options to enhance it, this is not quite the case. Even the least expensive variant has display audio with Bluetooth capability; power windows and door locks; 60/40 split folding rear seats; a multi-information display; a rear window wiper/washer and a few additional goodies. Every Yaris features Toyota’s Safety Sense C, which includes a wide range of active and passive safety features including nine air bags. This includes a pre-collision system, lane departure alert and automatic high beams. Lane departure alert and audio controls are incorporated into a new steering wheel.
The Yaris is an inexpensive, well-equipped little car and roomier inside than it may seem at first glance. It has excellent cargo space and is a lot of fun to drive. It’s nicely styled with lines that don’t shriek “subcompact” when it’s admired. You can’t ask much more from a car than lists at under $15,500 and add to all that the fact that you get Toyota’s envied reputation for build quality, durability, longevity and high resale value.
SPECS AT A GLANCE…
BODY STYLE: 4-door, 5-place hatchback
ENGINE: 1.5-litre, 4-cylinder
TRANSMISSION: 5-speed manual or 4-speed automatic
PERFORMANCE: Zero to 100 km/h in approx. 11-secs
FUEL ECONOMY: 7.9-litres/100 km city; 6.8-litres/100 km hwy
PRICE: $15,395 base MSRP