Toyota's Yaris: Pug-cute, and a joy to drive

Just for a moment, think like a European. Your ideal auto is an unfussy appliance, and happiness is a reliable subcompact with actual mixed-use fuel economy in the mid-30s. Toyota's pug-cute Yaris, new for 2007 (replacing the Echo, which was less handsomely proportioned) would feel at home skimming along the hedgerows in County Cork.

This little four-cylinder runabout, with a wider stance than its predecessor, also works well for American highway drives. Yaris even holds its own in a crosswind, though it's ideal as a tight-turning, park-it-anywhere city car. The 1.5-liter, 106-h.p. powerplant seems not to strain; highway merging is no more of an adventure than it is with most small four-bangers (we tested a Liftback automatic and pined for a stick). Toyota's new platform provides real stability and joyful handling. (Tiny 14-in. wheels mean you'll want to dodge potholes.)

Inside, a center-console gauge cluster frees up the dash area in front of the steering wheel, creating a go-cart effect. The MP3 input is a nice touch. Driving position is excellent. Rear headroom is ample; more surprisingly, rear legroom is workable. Packing a weekend's worth of groceries into the space beneath the hatch can be a jigsaw puzzle with the seats up, but a 60/40 rear seat split works wonders. Antilock brakes are not standard; they should be. Overall, our base-level model – crank windows, no remote locks – was a charmer at $13,510.

About these ads
Sponsored Content by LockerDome

We want to hear, did we miss an angle we should have covered? Should we come back to this topic? Or just give us a rating for this story. We want to hear from you.

Loading...

Loading...

Loading...

Save for later

Save
Cancel

Saved ( of items)

This item has been saved to read later from any device.
Access saved items through your user name at the top of the page.

View Saved Items

OK

Failed to save

You reached the limit of 20 saved items.
Please visit following link to manage you saved items.

View Saved Items

OK

Failed to save

You have already saved this item.

View Saved Items

OK