Toyota Yaris: Sedan and HatchbackThough the Toyota Yaris hatchback has already been released in Canada as a 2006 model, it will only come out - along with the sedan version - in the USA in April 2006 as a 2007 model. That's about the same time as other small Japanese cars, and it is about time. Is it a wonder that Americans don't buy many small cars when there aren't that many to begin with? The mistake that automakers have made is to equal size with quality; they sold the idea that "bigger equals better", as if well-made small cars like the Toyota Ractis or the Mercedes B-Class were not welcome on these shores, and we can see where that has led us. The Toyota Yaris is part of a new wave of high-quality small cars, and car website Edmunds has a "First Drive" piece on it. A few choice cuts and more photos below.
Now comes the Echo's overdue replacement, the 2007 Toyota Yaris. With the new Yaris (yes, the name Echo is gone), Toyota steps things up in every way. Rather than having the two-door liftback and four-door essentially differing only in body style, two separate teams developed each version of the Yaris, giving them different personalities. [...]
With a coefficient of drag of just 0.29, both the sedan and Liftback slip through the air with ease, promising a quieter ride and greater fuel economy at freeway speeds.
Both models are powered by the same 1.5-liter, 16-valve inline four that's used in the Scion xA and xB models. Equipped with variable valve timing (VVT-i), this engine makes 106 hp at 6,000 rpm and 103 pound-feet of torque at 4,200 rpm. It's mated with either a five-speed manual or four-speed automatic gearbox, but the EPA says it gets about the same mileage with either -- 34 city/40 highway for the manual and 34/39 for the automatic. [...]
Helping to optimize fuel-efficiency is the electric power steering setup that takes away the engine-driven hydraulic pump of traditional power steering systems. Unlike some other systems of this kind, the Yaris' has a natural, crisp feel with even weighting.
Though the engine is the same as in the xA and xB (and also in the Prius, though tuned very differently and coupled with electric motors), we think that it is fair to expect that is has been tuned to deliver ULEV2 emissions. Here in Canada, the 2004 and 2005 models of the Echo Hatchback (how the Yaris was called here) were LEV, and the 2006 model, though is has the same 1.5-liter engine, is now ULEV2.
Another interesting thing is that the Yaris, unlike most cars on the road, has a tendency to get real world gas mileage that is pretty close, or even over, the EPA estimates.
Photo credit: Toyota Motor Co.