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2008 Toyota Yaris Described As Spacious Subcompact
Asian automakers know small cars. This is, after all, the niche that Japanese manufacturers cultivated during the uncertain fuel supplies of the 1970s that put them on track to become major players in the U.S. More recently, Korean manufacturers Kia and Hyundai have followed a similar trend with great success.
With this depth of experience comes a thorough understanding of the market. So it should come as no surprise that Toyota's latest-generation small car, the Yaris, is a formidable offering in this class. Available as both a three door liftback and four door sedan, the Yaris is classified as a subcompact or "B" class car. It's a "right" sized vehicle for many daily missions and thus prompted a more in-depth look by Green Car editors.
Our test car was the sportier S model, which adds an AM/FM/CD sound system with an MP3 jack, rear defroster, 15 inch wheels, and a 60/40 folding rear seat. The MSRP for the 2008 Yaris S Sedan is $13,675, a $1,500 premium over the base sedan's $12,175 sticker. The Liftback model's point of entry is an even more affordable $11,300 with the S model in this version going for $12,975.
Yaris was introduced in 2005 as a much needed replacement for the Echo. The sedan Green Car recently tested, while small, offers a very substantial feeling. It measured in at a 66.5 inch width and 169.3 inch overall length, riding on a 100.4 inch wheelbase. The Yaris Sedan equipped with a 4-speed automatic transmission tips the scales at just 2,326 pounds. Even with its smaller stature, the Yaris seldom feels too small as some subcompacts do ... and the Echo always did.
The interior feels spacious with a total passenger volume of 87.1 cubic feet. The five passenger Yaris sedan is very comfortable for two up front, or three or four with adequate leg room in the rear. Other than the uplevel S package, our test car was barebones with manual windows and door locks. Interestingly, driver and front passenger seat-mounted side airbags and front and rear side curtain air bags are not standard. If you want them, expect to pay a premium.
Yaris features a unique center speedometer pod that takes some acclimation time. Not directly in the driver's line of sight, you need to adjust your scan to include the new location. Another minor interior quirk is the awkward location of the MP3 jack. Mounted in a pocket on the passenger side of the center console, it's very difficult to access from the driver's seat. Just a detail, but it's one of the little annoyances that make you scratch your head each time you try to plug-in.
Both the Yaris liftback and sedan variants are powered by a 1.5-liter DOHC four cylinder engine with Toyota's Variable Valve Timing with intelligence (VVTi). Yaris is an Ultra Low Emission Vehicle-2 (ULEV-2) so there isn't a lot of bad stuff coming out the tailpipe of this subcompact. The enthusiastic four delivers 106 hp at 6,000 rpm and 103 lbs-ft of torque at 4,200 rpm. Teamed with either a five speed manual or four speed automatic transmission, the Yaris offers great acceleration and passing ability. From a stop, 60 mph can be reached in just 8.5 seconds.
Gear spacing in the ECT four speed automatic transmission is a bit wide for spirited driving with the fourth gear overdrive ratio a tall 0.700:1. At highway speed in overdrive, the Yaris is loafing along and any application of throttle will force a downshift. Fuel economy is quite good, with the revised EPA 2008 ratings for the sedan scoring 29 city and 36 highway mpg for the manual and 29 city and 35 highway mpg with the automatic. Those ratings are down five mpg in the city and four mpg on the highway from the more generous 2007 EPA estimates. Still, with its 11.1 gallon fuel tank, a driver can travel well over 300 miles before a fill-up is required and pumping just 10 gallons at a time won't make you consider a second mortgage.
For a small sedan Yaris provides quite a bit of fun on the road. Around town and in heavy traffic, the manageable size and easy-to-park dimensions are greatly appreciated. Yet out on the open road, Toyota's subcompact has the legs to cover great distances without undue driver and passenger fatigue.
Like Toyota hybrids, the Yaris employs electric power steering to reduce the load on the engine and improve fuel economy. With no belt-driven hydraulic power steering pump to drag down performance, the engine is that much more powerful and efficient. This car's variable ratio rack-and-pinion power assisted steering offers reasonably good feel but it is not quite as precise as some of the sporty subcompacts in this segment.
Overall, Toyota's Yaris is a great first car, an economical commuter, and an intelligent addition as a second or go-to mode of transportation. It's simply a car that makes sense on so many levels.
2008 Toyota S Yaris Sedan
|Curb Weight||2,293 lbs|
|Overall Length||169.3 in|
|Overall Width||66.5 in|
|Overall Height||56.7 in|
|Fuel Capacity||11.1 gal|
|Valvetrain||DOHC 4-valve VVT-i|
|Horsepower||106 @ 6,000 rpm|
|Torque||103 @ 4,200 rpm|
|Transmission||5-spd manual/4-spd automatic|
|0-60 mph||8.5 seconds|
|EPA Fuel Economy||29/36 manual, 29/35 automatic|
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