I was recently in the market for a new, more economical car when I stumbled upon the redesigned Toyota Yaris Ascent at my local Toyota Dealer.
On the outside it is a great looking little car with its big grill, it sort of gives it a mean look and in my opinion it looks better the previous generations. Stone chips have been a pain for me though with lots of dodgy roads I this way I have found that the stone chips have taken the read back off to the base coat but that easily fixed with some touch up paint but the design is not what drew me in to buying it.
What drew me to it was the standard features when compared to the other cars in its class. The Ascent now comes standard with a 6.1″ Touch screen infotainment with reversing camera which is coupled to 6 speakers which sound fantastic. The stereo system also has Bluetooth Connectivity, Hands free with steering wheel controls, plus USB and AUX inputs. The one thing that would have been nice with the steering wheel controls is if they were backlight, many times I have pressed the volume button thinking it was the next track button while driving at night, you do get used to it after a while but still that would have been a nice touch.
The infotainment system can also display trip information such as Current L/100km, distance to empty and the average speed which I think is a nice touch. It also comes with cruise control, 7 Airbags A/C and a whole raft of safety features such as ABS and VSC. It also now sports a Mercedes style single swoop windscreen wiper which I think is pretty cool. The rear windscreen wiper do could do with an intermittent setting though.
The interior space is fantastic and all the controls are well laid out with items like heater and fan controls well within hands reach. The fit and finish of the interior is great but there is a lot of plastic but we do have to remember this is not a luxury car and does not need fancy dashboard materials since it is just a small sub compact city car. There are also heaps of storage spaces with a twin lever glove box and heaps of other little hidey holes which can be useful for storing loose change or pens.
The driving position is good and the seat can be adjusted up or down to suit your height. The steering wheel can be adjusted forwards, backwards, up and down once again to suit your driving position. It also has 60:40 split fold seats, which is great for carrying big loads, I went on holidays in it with heaps of luggage and the 60:40 fold seats came in handy for extra boot space.
Under the hood there is a 1.3L 4 Cylinder Petrol engine which produces 64kw which is coupled to a 4 Speed Auto. It may not be the newest engine on the block (Being designed for the Echo in 1999,) and an Auto may seem a bit dated in the world of CVTs but around town it is a fairly nippy little car with plenty of get up and go especially when you move off from the lights or are stuck in a stop start traffic situation .Highway performance is good and can easily hold the posted speed limit without any extra input from the driver. Motorway driving is also good and this is where the cruise control is great, you just set the speed and away you go coasting along nicely.
Sometimes you may have to give the car a bit of an extra push to go up some of the more steeper hills that are encountered in the Blue Mountains and a bit of extra power would be nice but if you are not driving up hills often (I rarely drive up steep hills) the Yaris has like I said before ample power I do commute roughly 40km to work every day. This consists of mostly highway driving and with this I have not had any issues with the drive train at all, the engine and gearbox and very smooth and both purr along very nice.
Since buying it, 4 months ago I have clocked up 8000km and the drivetrain has shown no signs of issues at all. It is also very economical averaging 6.4l per 100km which is very good for its class couple this with a 42l tank and I can easily get 550km out of a single tank which is fantastic for all the commuting I do in it.
The steering is very responsive and it handles twisting roads just fine. You don’t have to force the wheel what so ever just a nice gentle turn while take you in to a corner nice and easy. It also handles the tight city street just as well. Taking sharp corners in town is a breeze, once again the responsive steering helps. Parking it is a breeze as the Power steering system responds to when you parking so you can become a pro at parking.
The seats are very comfortable and are very supportive which is great for when you are driving to work. After driving long distances in it, my lower back did ache once which I found was a bit of a problem with my previous car. There is plenty of leg room for both driver and passenger while the rear seats passengers also enjoy very comfy seats with excellent leg room.
The Yaris rides really well even on some of the roughest roads. I have taking down to the Glow Worm Tunnels in the Blue Mountains and it stood up to the rough dirt road well absorbing some of the harshest of bumps really well. It certainly pushed the car beyond it comfort zone. Even on some of the roughest tarred roads, it would be hard to tell that you are on a rough road at all while on smooth motorway style roads they ride is a good as any luxury car. The suspension is well tuned and it rides well on its standard 15″ wheels.
The cabin is well insulated from exterior sounds such as tyre rumble; it is also well insulated against engine noise which in turns makes the cabin very quiet, which is great for when you talking using the hands free system or having a conversation your fellow passengers. The cabin is also vibration free which means in turn no rattles what so ever.
In my opinion the Yaris is great value especially for what you are getting feature wise. The auto did cost more than the manual ($15990 for the manual vs. $17990 for the auto) but I preferred the Auto. The engine maybe getting long in the tooth and could do with an update in the future but at the end of the day it is really a great little car to drive with plenty of get up and go from the 1.3L engine and very responsive handling, coupled with it spacious interior, comfy seats safety economy and infotainment, I give the Yaris an overall rating of 9.8.