TOYOTA YARIS 2005 – 2013

2011 Toyota Yaris YRX

2011 Toyota Yaris YRX

Toyota Yaris is the smallest car in the Japanese giant’s range that’s sold in Australia. It replaced the popular Toyota Echo in November 2005, in turn Echo had superseded the not particularly popular Toyota Starlet in 1999.

Yaris is a significantly larger car than Echo and can seat four adults in more comfort than you might expect. It can be used as a family car if the children are in their pre-teen year and even, with some compromises, can carry four adults.

The boot is on the small side in the three and five-door hatchbacks, but their rear seat slides forwards, as well as folds flat so you can juggle the amount of luggage/people room you need. A four-door sedan arrived in March 2006 and has a lot more boot space than the hatches.

Rough sealed roads can challenge the suspension and the ride is fairly bumpy on occasions. Tyre noise on some coarse chip surfaces is loud enough to be unpleasant.

The handling is nicely balanced for a small Japanese car, though you wouldn’t mistake it for a European machine. Yaris has understeer if you push really hard, but there’s no sign of it at sensible speeds.

2008 Toyota Yaris

2008 Toyota Yaris

Noise and vibration are well damped and on good roads and motorways it offers the sort of refinement you would expect from a car that’s a full size larger.

Power comes from four-cylinder engines of 1.3- or 1.5-litre capacity. Both use variable valve timing to give reasonable torque across the rev range. The engine isn’t all that happy to rev to the top of the tacho, but Yaris isn’t that type of car so that’s hardly a problem.

The manual gearbox is a five-speed unit, the automatic transmission has only four forward gears.

A good home mechanic will be able to do a lot of the work that doesn’t affect the safety of the car. Underbonnet room is understandably tight so expect some frustration and the occasional dribbles of blood.

2005 Toyota Yaris YRX

2005 Toyota Yaris YRX

There are Toyota dealers all over Australia, indeed due to the popularity of the marque in country areas Toyota is probably represented in more out of the way places than any other maker. On the other hand, remote outback dealers may not have parts in stock for the Yaris, meaning you may have to wait for unusual bits to be freighted up from the city.

Insurance costs are generally good and there doesn’t seem to be a great variation from company to company. Nevertheless it’s still smart to shop around, always being sure to compare apples with apples in the way of cover and/or extras.

WHAT TO LOOK FOR Rust is not likely unless the car has been badly repaired after a crash. So if you do find rust be very suspicious.

Trim, seats, dash top and carpets should all be in close to new condition with no tears or other damage. Look out for the interior of a car has been mistreated by bored children. And check the boot in case someone has crammed stuff into there to the extent of damaging the opening.

Make sure the engine starts promptly, idles smoothly, accelerates without hesitation and doesn’t blow smoke when worked hard.

Manual gearboxes should be smooth and quiet in operation and not clash gears on fast downchanges from third to second.

Automatics should be smooth and there shouldn’t be any delay in it going into gear from Neutral or Park.

The brakes shouldn’t pull the car to one side no matter how hard they are applied. Make sure the ABS operates correctly – feel for a pulsing through the pedal when you hit it hard indicating the ABS is in action. Don’t forget to check the rear view mirror first!

If there’s the slightest doubt about anything in the Toyota Yaris, have a professional do the final inspection and get a quote for all defects, even apparently minor ones.

Small cars used in city areas wear more quickly than big cars in the country. So don’t let low kilometre readings cloud your judgement.

About Ewan Kennedy

Ewan Kennedy, a long-time car enthusiast, was Technical Research Librarian with the NRMA from 1970 until 1985. He worked part-time as a freelance motoring journalist from 1977 until 1985, when he took a full-time position as Technical Editor with Modern Motor magazine. Late in 1987 he left to set up a full-time business as a freelance motoring journalist. Ewan is an associate member of the Society of Automotive Engineers - International. An economy driving expert, he set the Guinness World Record for the greatest distance travelled in a standard road vehicle on a single fuel fill. He lists his hobbies as stage acting, travelling, boating and reading.
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