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by Derek Mau

2007 Toyota Yaris
click on any image to enlarge

What the heck is a Yaris? Yaris is the combination of two words. The fist part is the German expression for yes (“ja”); the second half is from the Greek goddess, Charis, who symbolized beauty and elegance. Coincidentally, the chief designer of the Yaris is Greek. In the automotive world, a Yaris is Toyota's replacement for the Echo.

I also discovered that the Yaris is good at combining other things, such as the economies of an inexpensive sticker price, stellar fuel mileage and the solid build quality that is associated with every Toyota vehicle. After spending some quality time with the Yaris, I really started to appreciate the practicality of this little econobox.

Pros and Cons

  • Sips fuel like a hummingbird
  • Roomy and comfortable interior
  • Good seating position for the driver
  • Darn good sound for a factory installed stereo system
  • Zippy enough to get you up the hills without calling for a tow truck

  • 1.5 liter 4-cylinder engine needs high RPM to go fast
  • The drone of a noisy interior can be tiring on long drives
  • Hated the position of the speedometer
  • Adding optional equipment quickly moves the sticker price out of the economical range
Toyota Yaris

Driving Impressions

EPA estimates for the Yaris are 34 mpg for getting around the city streets and 39 mpg for the highway. The observed gas mileage was 33.5 mpg after the car was driven by people who use shoes with lead soles. Must be some fashion trend I don’t know about. Anyway, the little 1.5 liter, 106 HP engine needs to be revved up for those exhilarating passes or entering the freeway. The small, fuel efficient engine needs to be revving pretty high to pick up speed, but has lots of pep to squirt you through traffic.

Driving at freeway speeds the cabin fills up with road noise. I had to raise my voice above normal speaking levels when conversing with passengers in the car. Measured road noise at 65 MPH was 75 db (A-weighted), which is about average for cars in this price range. I found myself turning up the music whenever I drove the car alone. Not only to mask the road noise, but to listen to the stereo because it was that good. Definitely better sounding than most factory installed sound systems.

The little engine that could did really well climbing the hills of San Francisco. The Yaris is easy to drive and maneuver around the city. Driving position feels a little higher than most sedans such that you feel on top of the car. Which makes it less intimidating when driving next the big, bad SUV’s sucking down three times more gas than the little Yaris.

The 3-door liftback model has lots of versatility for the young person who is always in constant motion. Laying the rear seats flat more than doubles the available cargo space. While the large, rear hatch provides a simple means of loading the car with all kinds of gear, books and supplies.

Thank goodness air conditioning is standard equipment for the Yaris. Many of the powered features I take for granted were manually controlled in the Yaris – outside mirrors, windows, locks and seats. The only thing that had any power was the stereo system. Paying for the optional upgrades raises the price of this attractive 3-door model rapidly. Base price for the Yaris is $11,950. Adding in some of the optional packages can quickly get the sticker price close to $15,000. View the spec sheet for the sticker price of the test car and a list of options that were included.

view of cockpityaris back seattoyota yaris cargo area


The new 2007 Toyota Yaris liftback combines excellent fuel economy with space, comfort, and decent performance, all for a low price. Who could ask for anything more?
















Who should buy it?

The Yaris should appeal to anyone looking for a solid value and reliable transportation. In my opinion the 3-door liftback version looks better compared against the 4-door sedan model and it’s more versatile with regards to stuffing it with your things. This includes students who are on a budget, a family looking for a modest commuter car, or someone who likes to spend their money on something other than a car.

Honorable Mention
I am greatly appreciative of Stevens Creek Toyota, located in Santa Clara, who provided the cars and trusted me with the keys to any car I chose for road testing. Geoff Yeager (General Sales Manager) and his team were very helpful with choosing the right car and getting it cleaned up for the photography sessions.

stevens creek toyota

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