|The Yaris SE Hatchback is the sportiest of its type ever. (Photo: Karen Tuggay, Canadian Auto Press)|
Interestingly, the Echo was actually a rebadged Yaris, but most of us don’t pay attention to European nameplates here in North America. I didn’t even realize both
|Unique front and rear fascias really make the SE stand out. (Photo: Karen Tuggay, Canadian Auto Press)|
I had already experienced just how much fun the Yaris was to drive with that aforementioned Echo Hatch RS, but it was during the second launch event that I first autocrossed one. The car has only improved over time, although I must say this latest version isn’t as capable of sneaking past the constabulary as it once was.
At least this top-line Yaris SE looks a lot subtler in Magnetic Grey Metallic than Absolutely
|LED-enhanced headlamps join blackened trim, fog lights, and 16-inch alloys to enhance the SE look. (Photo: Karen Tuggay, Canadian Auto Press)|
I only wish Toyota had shaved $1,000 off my tester’s bottom line by forgoing the rather pedestrian four-speed automatic, as the much more engaging standard five-speed manual is a lot more in keeping with the Yaris SE’s hot hatch styling.
Yes, the Yaris is one of the only cars still sold in North America with a four-speed autobox, most of its peers having graduated up to five- or six-speed automatics, or alternatively gravitated over to a continuously variable transmission. Some have even
|The Yaris is getting on in years, but it’s well made and fairly well equipped. (Photo: Karen Tuggay, Canadian Auto Press)|
Before you start thinking that I’m ripping too hard on this cheap little hatch (it’s less than $20k as tested after all), appreciate that this four-speed auto drives significantly better than many newer CVTs. I don’t know why CVTs get such a bad rap, other than their thoroughly unsporting
|Straightforward and to the point, especially the tiny monochromatic trip computer. (Photo: Karen Tuggay, Canadian Auto Press)|
Another reason the Yaris is as reliable as its Echo, Tercel, and Starlet predecessors is its sole 106-horsepower 1.5-litre four-cylinder engine, which puts down more excitement to the front wheels than its numbers suggest. Let’s not forget the little modern-day Toyopet is a mere 1,050 kilos (2,335 lbs) soaking wet, and that’s with the autobox and this SE’s extra equipment (it’s 1,030 kg/2,315 lbs
|The standard 6.1-inch touchscreen is fairly feature filled, but hardly the class leader. (Photo: Karen Tuggay, Canadian Auto Press)|
To be fair, today’s 2017 Yaris Hatchback SE comes much better stocked than most anything available in 2004. For just $18,510 plus freight and fees, it hits the road running with machine-finished 16-inch alloy wheels on 195/50 all-seasons, signature LED driving lights within the halogen projector headlamp clusters, fog lights, a unique black mesh grille (the base car’s is horizontally ribbed), blackened front trim (normally chrome), a body-colour rear rooftop spoiler, powered locks with
|The sport seats are comfortable and nice looking. (Photo: Karen Tuggay, Canadian Auto Press)|
|You won’t run out of passenger room in the back of a Yaris. (Photo: Karen Tuggay, Canadian Auto Press)|
My tester was pretty well loaded, although a person could spend extra for paint, the aforementioned two-tone colours costing an extra $540. The cargo liner in back was an add-on too, this from the accessories catalogue at a mere $90 and change. Ask nicely and your dealer might even throw in all-season floor mats, these only setting them back $165, while a cargo net is just over $130. You can get a block heater for just under $210, and the usual paint protection, hood deflector, and body side mouldings too, but the coolest dealer-added accessories include
|A flat loading floor and 60/40 split-folding rear seats provide plenty of cargo space. (Photo: Karen Tuggay, Canadian Auto Press)|
The Yaris will soon be updated with an even more aggressive look for 2018, so if you like what you see you may want to grab a 2017 while you can. It might be lagging behind a bit mechanically, at least with respect to its two transmissions, but the Yaris is diehard dependable, and that’s what most buying into this class want first and foremost. Truly, it’s hard not to recommend this car for reliable daily transport, while this SE version is both fun to drive and pretty snazzy to look at.
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