Light-hearted love

David Yochum

Toyota shows off great style, quirky speedometer

Grinning with a “polar white” smile, Yaris happily replaces Toyota’s Echo model.

Unlike its predecessor, this four-door entry-model parades a tight body, thoughtful styling and color-keyed body trim.

Merging a bubbly shape and snub nosed front end, Yaris’ personality stretches from hub caps to headlight design. “Mickey Mouse” air controls and circular vents sit on the dash, while snug body panels elicit stringent exterior build quality. An integrated rear-window antenna completes Yaris’ beaming new look, but the sedan might be frowning under the surface.

Yaris’ tight legroom, plastic dash and odd instrument cluster punish drivers without an adaptive personality.


+ Petroleum anorexic

+ Base model $3,500 below 16k

+ Toyota quality/value

– No oil or RPM gauges

– Speedometer placement

– ABS not standard

Comfortable in the driver’s seat, Sheth struggled with rear legroom and headroom, helping Goffe and Dinovo decide Yaris is a “girl car.”

Shaking the vehicle on East Main Street, Rogers liked Yaris’ direct steering.

Goffe expressed concerns about front-end visibility and lack of anti-lock brakes.


Base price: $12,550

Price as-tested: $14,100

Engine: 1.5L DOHC VVT-i 16V 4-cylinder

HP @ rpm: 106 @ 6000

Torque @ rpm: 103 @ 4200

Transmission: 4-speed auto

Base weight (lbs): 2,288

EPA mpg (city/highway): 34/39

“Standard ABS would come in handy,” she explained, “especially around Kent roads in wintertime. Without it, you’re going to have to pump the brakes.”

Despite complaining Yaris’ pedals were too close together, Sheth found the car to be “economically sound” overall.

With a suggested retail price of $12,550, Yaris comes standard with air conditioning, a 3-year/36,000-mile basic warranty and a 5-year/60,000-mile power train warranty. Sport pedals, color interior lights, remote keyless entry, fog lamps and a ground effects kit are optional. Averaging 34/39 mpg (city/highway), Toyota says Yaris “turns on a dime and runs on loose change.”

Perhaps that’s why it looks so content.