Following the introduction of the all-new Yaris hatchback in 2006, Toyota adds a four-door sedan model for 2007. Both models replace the outgoing Toyota Echo.
The Yaris sedan is longer, wider and has a longer wheelbase than the Echo sedan it replaces, but stands 70 mm shorter; with its elongated body and centre bar grille, it looks more like a scaled-down version of the all-new Camry. It carries a 1.5-litre engine as the Echo did, but is 106 hp and 103 lb-ft of torque to the Echo’s 108 hp and 105 lb-ft; combine that with a curb weight that’s up to 111 kg heavier than its predecessor, and the Yaris can feel like it’s straining at higher speeds.
All models use a five-speed manual transmission that can be optioned to a four-speed automatic for $1,000.
The Yaris sedan also shares components with the hatchback, including its drivetrain, but its wheelbase is 90 mm longer and its body length is 475 mm over the hatchback; its trunk, although lacking the hatchback’s cargo height, is 90 cm long with the seats up and 150 cm when they’re folded, to the hatchback’s 52 cm and 127 cm length.
The base Yaris sedan includes CD/MP3/WMA player, 60/40 folding rear seat, tachometer, 14-inch steel wheels, manual remote mirrors, rear window defroster, tinted glass, and intermittent wipers with mist function. Air conditioning can be added as a stand-alone option for $1,150.
The “B” package includes 15-inch steel wheels, coloured door handles, front and rear splash guards, power locks with keyless entry, rear chrome trim and blacked-out side window frames. Air is also available as an option on this package.
The “C” package includes everything in the “B” package, plus anti-lock brakes, air conditioning, power windows and power mirrors.
The “D” package includes everything in the “C” package, but adds front seat-mounted side airbags and curtain airbags.
The Aero package includes 15-inch alloy wheels with locks, anti-lock brakes, rear spoiler, full skirt package, power windows and mirrors, power locks with keyless entry, fog lamps, rear trunk chrome trim and blacked-out side window frames.
The Yaris hatchback is available in two- or four-door configuration; the base CE is two-door only, the LE four-door only, and the RS is available in both.
The CE includes 14-inch steel wheels, CD player with two speakers, rear bench seat with fold-down seatback, tilt wheel, floor mats, and intermittent wipers.
The LE adds CD with four speakers, power locks, power mirrors, splash guards and rear wiper/washer.
The RS models add 15-inch alloy wheels, anti-lock brakes, six-CD/MP3 player with four speakers, sport seats, 60/40 folding rear bench seat, leather-wrapped wheel, rear spoiler, and fog lamps. The two-door does not have power locks.
Air conditioning can be added to all hatchback models, and there are several convenience packages including anti-lock brakes on the CE and LE, although the side and curtain airbags optional on the sedan cannot be added to the hatchback.
The Yaris sedan is exceptionally roomy inside; its front seats are surprisingly comfortable at this price point, although they tend to be narrow. The interior is very well done, with quality materials, but buyers will either love or hate the centrally-mounted instrument cluster. The Yaris handles much better than the outgoing Echo sedan, with a bigger-car ride that will benefit in cold weather from real winter tires, but the limitations of its small engine and relatively heavy curb weight become evident on highway ramps. This is a well-done city runabout at a reasonable price.
The hatchback, like its predecessor, uses the funky styling to its advantage, with better proportions than the sedan. It doesn’t have the overall cargo volume of the sedan’s trunk, but taller objects are easier to fit behind the seat. It’s possible to get ABS on even the base model (although you have to take it along with air, power windows and locks, power mirrors, rear wiper and keyless entry), but it’s surprising that the extra airbags are not available to hatchback buyers, especially when new compact hatchbacks like the Honda Fit include them as standard equipment.
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