A few weeks ago, my wife and needed to get from our fair city to MCI, and we decided to rent a car for the 200-mile trip. The agent tossed me the keys to a 2016 Toyota Yaris, with an automatic transmission, power windows and locks, and not much else. What follows is a summary of my driving impressions. If you’re so inclined, take the jump below and read along.
The first thing that I noticed was the roomy front seats. The seat is fairly flat – good for us big ‘Murica types – and offered plenty of legroom for my 6’1″ frame. Since there’s no central console, my arms didn’t feel cramped, either. The windshield offered good visibility, and I didn’t feel my head touch the ceiling once, which drives me nuts.
As others have stated, there really are no bad cars on the market anymore. Even the most basic, cheapest econobox is well-built and fairly well featured. The Yaris is no exception, but I found a few things that irked me after four hours behind the wheel. First and foremost, the 4-speed automatic is a mistake, and makes a slow, older engine lethargic. I stomped on the gas pedal once while cruising the highway, and besides a change in pitch under the hood, there was not much else to tell me that the car was accelerating. The ratios are optimized for economy, and you can feel it. Speaking of cruising, this car had no cruise control, which took me back to my days in my 1986 626, when I got very good at holding the pedal at just the right spot. I will say that the little Yaris was as stable doing 60 as it was at 85.
I don’t understand putting the reverse light below the bumper. Can anyone explain?
Another thing I noticed right away was the road noise. The tires are very small and narrow, again designed with economy in mind, not highway cruising. I also heard a lot of wind around the back doors, and I kept looking back to see if one of the windows was open. For a 2016 model with 13,000 miles, that was surprising. On the other hand, it got excellent mileage at 70mph, which was good when it came time to fill up the tank and return the car. On a flat road, the little engine gave me 42mpg, but dipped into the teens under hard acceleration or hills. On the whole, the EPA 37mpg is right on.
For a rental car, it did exactly what I expected – it got me from one airport to another. It wasn’t comfortable, and it wasn’t enjoyable to drive, but it wasn’t terrible, either. I would recommend this car for anyone who wants a car to be an appliance, something to carry them to work and back. I would recommend it only with the 5-speed manual, which is most assuredly more economical and enjoyable to drive.
What do you think of the Yaris? Do you own one? What are your impressions?
[Photos Copyright 2016 Hooniverse/Marcal Eilenstein]