2007 Toyota Yaris sedan
2007 Toyota Yaris sedan. Click image to enlarge


Review and photos by Chris Chase

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Uncle Yaris has some ‘splainin’ to do. Given his druthers, he’d have us believe that “sometimes it’s just better having a trunk.”

But like the uncle who gets drunk at family gatherings and tells tall tales about himself, we’re inclined to smile politely, nod and find an excuse to get away. (Ri-i-ight, Uncle Yaris, whatever you say. Where’s the punch?)

Is it just that we’ve got something against subcompact sedans? Not really, although, like many Canadians, we do prefer our small cars with the practicality of a hatchback, even if they tend to come across as low-rent compared to their four-door siblings.

In the case of the sedan version of Toyota’s cute-and-cuddly Yaris, it’s got a couple of things going for it compared to the Yaris hatch, at least on paper. Here’s where it actually is better having a trunk: when it means you get 365 litres of cargo space, compared to just 228 litres in the Yaris hatch (with the rear seats in place). The sedan also gets the stretch treatment, riding a wheelbase 90 mm longer than that of the hatchback, at 2,550 mm. That results in extra rear-seat legroom, something you’ll never hear us complain about.

2007 Toyota Yaris sedan
2007 Toyota Yaris sedan
2007 Toyota Yaris sedan
2007 Toyota Yaris sedan
2007 Toyota Yaris sedan
2007 Toyota Yaris sedan. Click image to enlarge

While the Yaris sedan shares its centre-mounted gauge cluster (which we’re not fans of) with the hatch, it gets a different dash layout. The HVAC controls are arranged in a triangle, instead of vertically as they are in the Yaris hatch, but they’re just as easy to reach and use. It’s with regards to other aspects of the Yaris sedan’s interior that Uncle Yaris’ check-out-my-big-trunk boasts start to fall apart.

First, where’s the two-tiered passenger side glove box, and driver’s side dash-top storage cubby that hatchback versions get? The sedan also loses the storage tray located in front of the shifter in the hatchback. While rear-seat passengers do benefit from extra legroom created by the sedan’s stretched wheelbase, headroom back there is tight. And that’s in the outboard seats, whose bum cushions are scalloped to create extra headroom. And if you’re the unlucky third soul who gets the middle seat, you get even less bum-to-toupee space thanks to the camel hump of a centre seat cushion.

While the Yaris sedan’s trunk is larger than the hatchback’s cargo hold, the sedan obviously gives up a lot of cargo flexibility in not having a tailgate to swallow large items. Sure, you can still fold the back seat down, but doing so creates a five or six-inch height difference between the trunk floor and the folded seat, which takes away from the otherwise generous opening between the trunk and rear seat area.

Thankfully, the Yaris sedan does share some redeeming qualities with its hatchback siblings. For one, the ride is terrific – nice and firm, and handling is excellent for a relatively tall car. There’s a touch of understeer in high-speed corners (think highway off-ramps), but let off the gas, and the car will follow your chosen line obediently. Helping out here is nicely weighted steering.

Space up front is great, with lots of head- and elbow room. There’s a height adjustment for the driver’s seat, which should help most drivers find a comfy driving position, though finding that sweet spot is difficult: those with short legs and long arms will have the best luck in the Yaris.

2007 Toyota Yaris sedan
2007 Toyota Yaris sedan
2007 Toyota Yaris sedan
2007 Toyota Yaris sedan. Click image to enlarge

Our tester was a Yaris sedan fitted with an automatic transmission and the “Aero” package, whose most obvious additions to the car are a skirt kit comprising door sill extensions and front and rear bumper valances, rear spoiler and 15-inch wheels and tires. The package also adds chrome trim for the trunk and colour-keyed outside mirrors and door handles. Functional stuff includes power mirrors and door locks with keyless entry, anti-lock brakes and electronic brake force distribution, and fog lights. The Aero package doesn’t include air conditioning, but our car had it as a $1,150 stand-alone option.

If it was our money, though, we’d go for the “F” package, which includes all of the practical stuff from the aero option group, as well as air conditioning, and replaces the goofy-looking skirt kit with more useful side and head curtain airbags, for $18,670 – $110 more than what the Aero package costs. Granted, we’d probably also choose the five-speed manual version, which comes in at a grand cheaper.

As is the case with many subcompacts, the automatic transmission works well but saps much of the fun out of the driving experience. Acceleration off the line is outright sluggish, but improves as the revs rise. Not only is the manual tranny version cheaper, it’s a better performer, too.

2007 Toyota Yaris sedan
2007 Toyota Yaris sedan
2007 Toyota Yaris sedan. Click image to enlarge

The Yaris is a great car, and a worthy contender for other notable cars in its class, like the Hyundai Accent and Kia Rio twins, Chevy Aveo, Pontiac Wave and Suzuki Swift+ triplets, Honda’s Fit and the not-so-subcompact Nissan Versa. The Yaris sedan’s stretched wheelbase gives it an edge over some of its competitors, but it’s other interior details – or the lack thereof – that would prompt us to recommend the Yaris hatch, Honda Fit or one of the Yaris’ sedan competitors, most notably the Accent or Rio. The Yaris also tends to be one of the most expensive subcompacts, at least when lined up against similarly-equipped competitors.

Sorry, Uncle Yaris – sometimes, a trunk just isn’t enough to make us like you. Have some more punch.


Pricing

  • Base price: $14,530
  • Options: $5,180 (Aero Package, $3,030 (15-inch wheels and tires; anti-lock brakes with electronic brake force distribution; power windows, locks and mirrors; keyless entry; skirt package and rear spoiler; colour keyed outside mirrors and door handles; fog lights); automatic transmission, $1,000; air conditioning, $1,150)
  • Freight: $1,090
  • A/C tax: $100
  • Price as tested: $20,900 Click here for options, dealer invoice prices and factory incentives


Specifications

  • Click here for complete specifications


Related stories on Autos

  • First Drive: 2007 Toyota Yaris sedan


Competitors

  • Buyer’s Guide: 2006 Chevrolet Aveo sedan

  • Buyer’s Guide: 2006 Hyundai Accent sedan
  • Buyer’s Guide: 2006 Kia Rio sedan
  • First Drive: 2007 Nissan Versa
  • Buyer’s Guide: 2006 Pontiac Wave sedan


Crash test results


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