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CARS REVIEW - 2007 Toyota Yaris Hatchback Review

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Toyota Yaris Hatchback – 2007 Review:
This is the car of the future। Don’t believe it? Check out any variety of forecast data pertaining to population growth, global warming, gas prices, and infrastructure investment. The trajectories are dire unless something happens now. Experts say that by mid-century there will be 100 million more Americans, that our atmosphere will be irrevocably damaged by excess carbon emissions, that gasoline prices will rise exponentially, and that our cities will begin to crumble under increasing strain. The tough, fuel-sipping, clean-burning, park-it-anywhere, fun to drive Toyota Yaris Hatchback might look a little goofy today, but represents an intelligent transportation solution for tomorrow.

Toyota loaned us an Absolutely Red 2007 Yaris Hatchback with a $15,640 sticker price, including the $580 destination charge। Admittedly, that sum caused jaws to drop, but our test sample was a fully-loaded model with a Power Package, upgraded audio, alloy wheels, ABS, side-impact and side-curtain airbags, remote keyless entry, a rear spoiler, and carpeted floor mats – in other words, a whole bunch of stuff economy car buyers don’t really need. According to Toyota’s website, it’s possible to get a Yaris Hatchback for as little as $11,770 and well equipped (without the safety add-ons) for less than $14,500. We put hundreds of miles on this little bugger, a mix of city, highway, and twisty road driving that clearly revealed the Yaris’s preference for urban point-and-shoot travel over open road cruising.


A city car first and foremost, the Toyota Yaris’s automatic transmission is geared for spirited off-the-line response and to best manage the 1.5-liter four-cylinder’s 106 horsepower at lower speeds. Belying its mission as a world car, the 2,290-pound Yaris can cruise at 90 mph on the highway but any loss of momentum due to traffic or an incline results in a significant wait to reestablish such velocity. Mashing the accelerator kicks the transmission down to deliver meager amounts of extra power, so it doesn’t really help. Most people will buy the Yaris for its fuel-thrifty nature, and we earned a respectable 31.2 mpg average despite continually flogging it for all the acceleration it could muster.



Lightweight and nimble, the Toyota Yaris delivers entertaining handling and peerless maneuverability in the city, and can even tackle freeway ramps with unexpected competence. The suspension is delightfully tuned for a pleasing blend of road feel and ride comfort. On the open road at speed, however, the Yaris demonstrates the straight-line stability of autumn leaves swirling down an alleyway on a blustery October day because of numb steering that requires plenty of correction and tires that like to hunt on grooved pavement. Add a crosswind, and the Yaris takes real concentration to pilot. Good thing the brakes work well to scrub extra speed.



Seeing out of the Toyota Yaris is no problem. If anything, it takes awhile to acclimate to the extremely short hood. In every parking situation that we figured we had zero room for error, there was at least another foot or two of distance between the Yaris and whatever we didn’t want to bump. The Yaris has lots of glass, very short overhangs, thin pillars, big side mirrors, and nothing of note to get in the way of visibility. And it squeezes into spaces that other cars can’t, making it easy to find a legal spot in congested cities

Fun to Drive


It is sometimes said that it is more fun to drive a slow car fast than it is to drive a fast car slow. Given that the Yaris can be driven flat-out the majority of the time without risking “demonstration of speed” violations, that it’s a blast to pitch around corners, that it’s capable of dicing through traffic with ease, and that nothing is more fun than outwitting a testosterone-dripping moron in a menacing Mustang thanks to the Yaris’s smaller size and better sightlines, yes, this is an entertaining car. Just keep it off mountain two-lanes and the expressway where its dearth of power and lousy steering make driving a chore

Front Comfort


Inexplicably, Toyota just can’t seem to figure out how to make its smaller vehicles accommodate larger drivers. Honda doesn’t have this problem. Neither does Nissan. But Toyota’s driver seats simply don’t offer enough fore/aft or height adjustment to fit people with inseams greater than 32 inches properly behind the wheel. That said, the Yaris does offer comfortable seats. A center armrest is optional, the upper door panels are covered in thinly padded fabric, and the urethane steering wheel is better to hold than look at. Still, our taller drivers felt crammed in behind the wheel.

Rear Comfort


If you need to carry people in the back seat on a regular basis, skip the Toyota Yaris hatchback. Try the Yaris sedan, or choose a different model altogether, because there’s scant comfort to be had in this microcar’s rear seat. Normally, we’d recommend just folding it down and calling the Yaris hatchback a two-seater with a giant cargo area, but that doesn’t work very well either because the load floor has numerous nooks and crannies into which small items can disappear.

Interior Noise


This is a loud car. When accelerating, it sounds like the engine might as well be sitting in your lap. Wind and road noise are constant companions on the freeway, and to hear the stereo at higher vehicle speeds it’s gotta be cranked up to ridiculous levels. Do not buy a Toyota Yaris hatchback if you’re looking for a commuter car that doubles as a serenity chamber after a long day at the office. It must be noted, however, that despite its plastic fantastic interior, the Yaris was squeak- and rattle-free.

Loading Cargo


Hatchbacks are handy vehicles, and it’s really too bad that image-conscious Americans have written them off as cheap econo-cars that people buy because they have to rather than because they want to. That said, the Toyota Yaris suffers utility compromises due to the packaging requirements of the temporary spare tire that resides under the cargo floor. The floor sits rather high, and with the rear seat raised there is little space for more than groceries. Flop the seats down, and a canyon between the spare tire well and folded seats creates a lumpy load surface. There is a plus, however, and that’s the recess in the hatch door that serves as a closing assist.

Build Quality


Look closely at how Toyota constructs the Yaris hatchback, and you’ll see few panel seams where gaps and joints frequently give clues to assembly quality. Outside, we found minor fit variances with the hood, driver’s door, and hatch. Inside, the plastic covers for both upper storage bins didn’t fit flush with the dashboard. Otherwise, the Yaris was constructed with exceptional care, displaying build quality that would be impressive on a top-of-the-line Lexus let alone the least expensive model in Toyota’s lineup

Materials Quality


The materials used to construct the Toyota Yaris are definitely a step above the car it replaced, the Echo. Everything is plastic, of course, and it’s plastic that is easily susceptible to scratches. However, it offers a pleasing visual and tactile quality that is sometimes lacking in cars twice the price. The seat fabric is soft, thin, and probably going to rip easily, but it looks and feels good



“Lady repellant” is what one staff member’s wife-to-be called our Absolutely Red Toyota Yaris hatchback. The same woman, embarking on a day trip with our road tester, laughed at the car as it sat at the curb: “It looks like some kids left their toys out overnight,” she said between giggles. Yeah, the Yaris is a jaunty looking package, a four-wheeled beanie with a propeller on top. It’s hard to take seriously, especially in Los Angeles where, more than most places, people are what they drive. Still, every time I looked at the Yaris, it made me think of Europe where owning something like this is a mark of intelligence, not low earning potential.



Given how small the Toyota Yaris hatchback is, the generous amount of storage space inside is almost surreal. Three dash compartments provide copious volume for various items, the floor-mounted center console has a couple of trays, the dash has small cut-outs on either side of the center controls, there’s a giant coin box to the left of the steering column, there are pockets molded into each door, and front seat occupants have four cupholders from which to choose. Rear seat storage spots aren’t as generous, but let’s face reality: nobody’s gonna ride back there long enough to need ‘em

Infotainment Controls


Toyota fans will instantly recognize the stereo installed in the Yaris hatchback, because it’s an old-school unit that’s been around for at least a decade. However, don’t take that to mean that the controls aren’t functional. There’s a big volume/power knob and tuning/audio knob, with large pre-sets and clear markings for every button. Where the Yaris needs improvement is with regard to reach and display legibility. It’s a stretch to use some of the stereo functions, and because the face of the display is tilted it reflects lots of sun glare. With polarized sunglasses perched on your nose, anything shown on the display is nearly invisible.

Climate Controls


Big, round knobs with integrated buttons are stacked atop one another in the middle of the dashboard, looking fashionably oversized in their unique layout. The bottom knob is a bit too low to use without getting distracted from the road, but otherwise we found no fault with this design. The center vents can be shut off completely, while outboard vents can be spun and aimed at the side glass for additional defogging as necessary.

Secondary Controls


Critics will complain about the Yaris’s centrally-mounted speedometer, and we’ve done so with other vehicles in the past. This one, however, is not bothersome because it’s big enough to read at a glance. The digital fuel gauge located to the right of the speedo, however, is not. The only reason we saw the final bar flashing its low-fuel warning was because it was nighttime. Other controls are easy to find and use, not surprising on a basic transportation appliance like this, except for the auxiliary port and central lock button on the floor next to the parking brake.



Toyota’s obvious bogeys are the Chevrolet Aveo, Honda Fit, Hyundai Accent, Kia Rio5, and Nissan Versa. Of these, we think the Fit, Rio5, and Versa deserve a look. There are other cars to consider, too, such as the Dodge Caliber and the Ford Focus ZX3/ZX5 (at least through 2007, after which these Focus hatchbacks are dead), and next year’s Saturn Astra. And, don’t forget, you can get a Vee Dub for under $17,000: the Volkswagen Rabbit.

Second Opinion – Blackett


Toyota Yaris – Blackett's Opinion:
A few weeks back we evaluated a redesigned Hyundai Elantra. That comfortable, well-built, decently-equipped, and appropriately-powered midsize sedan rang in at $16,400, albeit with a manual transmission. The EPA rates the Elantra at 36 mpg on the highway. With that being just one example of the values currently available, I’m not sure why anyone would opt to pay more than $15,000 for a tiny Toyota Yaris hatch that is estimated to get an extra three mpg on the highway. Also included are low-budget materials, some quirky ergonomics, and an ill-placed speedometer. There’s no center armrest, but the meager engine is responsive, rear seat room and cargo space impressive, and visibility is excellent. Put it all together, and you’ve got something less than value

Second Opinion – Buglewicz


Toyota Yaris – Buglewicz’s Opinion:
This Toyota Yaris is an incredible example of space utilization. It’s as if the engineers looked at every void behind the dash on the CAD display and decided to make them storage compartments. There are two glove boxes, a storage compartment in front of the driver, cupholders that fold out from under the dash vents, pockets astride the center stack, a bin on the floor, another cupholder at the back of the center console, and even a pocket on the driver’s side dash near the door. The Yaris is noisy, cramped, has an uncomfortable driving position, looks weird and has questionable fit and finish, but man, can it hold a lot of junk

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