Sometimes it doesn’t take much to impress me; that happened with the 2010 Toyota Yaris. It was the sideview mirrors. I discovered that they not only folded forwarded as most sideview mirrors do but they also folder backward. In other words, they were on an 180 degree axis. Maybe that’s common these days but it was a surprise to me.
What was more impressive was that the Yaris is a subcompact car and this feature was not a part of Toyota’s star safety system which outfits Yaris for 2010. The system which is standard featured vehicle stability control, traction control, anti-lock braking, electronic brake force distribution and brake assist. There are three Yaris models: a four-door sedan, a three-door hatchback and a five-door hatchback. I had the five-door model and found it a surprising capable little car. It was powered by a 1.5-liter four cylinder engine that produced 106 horsepower and 106 pound-feet of torque. My test car was equipped with the option four-speed automatic transmission.
The Yaris’ EPA rating was 29/35 mpg city HWY. And the Yaris is not involved in any of Toyota’s recalls. I didn’t do a lot of driving for distance but I drove my test car every day. When I returned it on the seventh day I had used about a quarter of a tank of gasoline. Surprisingly, the powertrain proved to be more than adequate for city driving. Acceleration wasn’t’ hurt throbbing but it was sufficient to get me on and off expressways without increasing my pulse rate. Handling wasn’t bad either. The front suspension was comprised of MacPherson struts and a hydroformed torsion beam axle for the rear suspension. In other words, the Yaris remained rigid on some fairly rough washboard surfaced roads which I sought out. Wind and road noise were minimal and so was vibration and harshness. The Yaris was a solid little car.
Its interior layout was, well, different. The speedometer, with all of its readouts, was atop and in the middle of the dashboard. The audio controls were underneath it and the climate controls were underneath that. In effect, it was a vertical setup. It sounds strange but it worked. There was leg room in the back seats and head room wasn’t bad. Those seats could accommodate two adults for more than a ride around the block. The Yaris was kind of a squared off little box and the wheels were at the corners. That created leg and head room.
The cat eye headlights went up into the hood and my test car featured what Toyota called a “T” faced grille and the automaker also said that the lack of moldings from the windshield an door glass helped to reduce wind noise.
Equipment was minimal but it was enough. My test vehicle featured an AM/FM radio and CD player with MP3/WMA capability and there was an auxiliary jack. The car also had satellite radio.
The rear seat did fold forward creating 12.9 cubic feet of cargo space. At $17,231 I found my test vehicle to be a pragmatically, practical little car.
Frank S. Washington is managing partner/editor of AboutThatCar.com and AboutThatCarBlog.com