Jalopnik Reviews: 2006 Toyota Yaris, Part 1

Egghead that I am, I've always had a bit of a problem analyzing mainstream Toyotas. The damn things are so stunningly unobjectionable that criticizing them is the reverse equivalent of complaining that Beethoven's Ninth is too loud. Just like the Corolla or, um, what is it? Best-seller... Oh what a feeling... Camry! Just like the Corolla or the Camry, the Yaris hatchback goes (yes really), stops, turns, brakes, carries people and stuff, doesn't cost much to buy or run and doesn't break. Of course, thankfully for me, that doesn't mean it's perfect...

Like the new Civic, the Yaris' front glass is tilted so far backwards you don't so much hit a bug as alter its trajectory slightly upwards. Although Jalponik commenters [correctly] assert that the Yaris and its ilk need the tilted coffee table glass to stay slippery at speed, I reckon the designers went along for the ride (so to speak) because the rakish windscreen suggests "sportiness." In any case, you may save at the pump, but you pay in other ways. From the inside out, the Yaris' low-rider windscreen means you can't see the front hood. Although the hood is only slightly more protruding than, say, your nose, there are those of us who like to see a bit of sheetmetal ahead — if only to maintain the reassuring fantasy that metal in front would slow a solid object before it slammed into your face.

The raked windscreen also makes the Yaris a pug ugly car. At best it looks like a pug. At worst, it's a suppository designed by Chris Bangle. Although Americans will be oblivious to the "homage," there's also more than a little Renault to Toyota's automotive netsuke, what with its ass up in the air, sitting on skinny tires. Inside, it's cheap and cheerful incarnate, complete with roll-up windows (that'll flummox the kids!), a center mounted speedo (large enough to triumph over age-related myopia), mild-mannered air conditioning and a radio that make FM sound like AM and AM sound like long wave. Somehow, the Yaris seats four adults comfortably— providing they're not thinking about what would happen if a SUV makes a close encounter of the third kind.

On the positive side (aside from the prosaic qualities described above), the Yaris rides with impressive self-assurance— considering that it's small enough to be an H2 escape pod. Sure, you feel every lump and bump. But the jolts are filtered and dismissed. Driving over a rough road feels like your spine is being pummeled by one of those rubber-tipped hammers doctors use to test your reflexes. The steering is responsive enough to make wending through urban environs less taxing than a backwoods libertarian.

The Yaris also incredibly impossible to get out of shape. Although there's no joy in it, you can throw the Yaris into a corner at quite serious speeds and not die once. The tires will Ned Beatty at the abuse, sending you into a tidy little four-wheel-drift, but the Yaris holds her line like Paris Hilton. It makes stupid safe. And... that's it. I'm done. Is the Yaris a great car? Yes! Great! Would I buy one? No! Never! Am I the target market? No!

I'm too young to buy.

[by Robert Farago]

Jalopnik Reviews: 2006 Toyota Yaris, Part 2, Part 3 [internal]