2018 Toyota Yaris SE

Good, but could be better



  • 박재승 (james@koreatimes.net) --
  • 27 Apr 2018

By James Park


   A stylish and practical urban runabout, the Yaris Hatchback gets off the line with sufficient grunt and is admirably frugal with fuel.

   Toyota’s sub-compact model also prides itself as a very dependable car but of course, all Toyota vehicles have such reputation. Unfortunately, in today’s fickle automobile market, reliability alone does not attract many customers.

   In the fairly crowded sub-compact market, the Yaris has all but ceded the leadership position to Honda Fit, Kia Rio and Hyundai Accent. Unless Toyota does something about it, the presently small gap between the Yaris and the rivals will soon grow to become a yawning chasm.

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   The Yaris’ exterior styling is not unattractive. It is a relatively good-looking car. The recent touches to the front grill and headlights make the car appear tidier and more mature. However, the overall shape has stayed the same since 2012, an eternity in the auto industry.

   Motivating the little hatchback is a 1.5 litre naturally aspirated four-cylinder mill that pumps out 106 horses and an adequate 103 lb-ft of torque. This is enough for the driver not to feel too embarrassed when the light turns to green.

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Sadly, the engine is mated to either five-speed manual or four-speed conventional automatic transmission. Yes, you’ve heard that right – only four forward gears.

   In comparison, the Honda Fit, with same 1.5 litre capacity motor, boasts 130 horsepower. It also provides either a six-speed stick or a CVT. (Not all would agree a CVT is improvement, but arguably a better choice than four-speed.) Other rivals, namely the Kia Rio and Hyundai Accent, both offer 130 horses from a 1.6 litre and offer optional six-speed automatic.

   The base CE model carries the MSRP of $15,490 before taxes and other mandatory fees. The starting point of the SE test-car is $18,450. It goes up to $19,450 with the auto tranny.

   As a rule, the sub-compacts are the least expensive cars you can buy. One can definitely see the cost-saving measures the manufacturers have taken with their respective models, such as abundance of hard plastic used throughout the interior and dearth of sophisticated electronic goodies.

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   That being said, today’s sub-compacts do not feel as cheap as their counterparts of twenty, even ten years ago.

   In case of Yaris, it lacks push-button ignition, dual-zone climate control or even a blind-side monitoring. However, in the SE guise, the Yaris presents a sporty-looking leather-wrapped steering wheel, comfortable and supportive heated cloth seats, rear-view camera, lane-departure alert, pre-collision system and auto high-beams.

   Simple and to the point, the interior does not wow the crowd but it nonetheless makes you appreciative of easy to use controls and clean design. The gated shift-lever works well and the upgraded six-speaker audio system sounds better than expected.

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   The engine sounds coarse when pushed, but so do most small engines. As a small and light car, the Yaris is inherently agile, making it almost fun to dodge numerable potholes that have sprung up in and around the Greater Toronto Area.

   The ride suffers a bit because of the firm suspension and the optional 16 inch alloys probably do not help matters. On the whole, it’s not too bad.

   As for being frugal with gas, the official numbers are 7.9 litres of regular juice per 100 km in city and 6.8 litres on highway.

   Compared to the class leading rivals, the Yaris has lost some of its sheen, but it still remains a competent and practical car that is relatively easy on your wallet, both in short and long term. (James Park is a member of the Automobile Journalists Association of Canada.)

 

2018 Toyota Yaris SE

Price: $18,450

As tested: $19,450

Engine: 1.5 litre four

Power: 106 hp/103 lb-ft

Transmission: 4 spd auto

Drive: FWD

Fuel: 7.9 litres per 100km (city), 6.8 litres (highway)

Best: frugal, dependable

Worst: aging design, only 4 spd

Competition: Kia Rio, Hyundai Accent, Honda Fit, Nissan Versa Note, Ford Fiesta

 

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