The Yaris was designed to achieve a new standard for vehicles in its segment. Its energetic design, based on the principles of Vibrant Clarity, maintains the compact body size but inside is a passenger compartment that offers exceptional roominess in a space designed to feel airy and open. Driving the Yaris reveals a new level of nimble handling and superior driving stability, and safety performance is outstanding.
The 2005 SEMA Show marks the U.S. debut of the all-new second-generation Yaris. Launched in 1999, the first generation Yaris was Toyota’s best-selling model in Europe and was named the (2000) European "Car of the Year".
"The Toyota Yaris has been a hit in Europe and we are looking forward to its launch here in the U.S.," said Jim Lentz, Toyota Division group vice president and general manager. "As Toyota’s most affordable passenger car, the Yaris will feature modern exterior styling and a surprising and upscale interior. It will be one of the most economic and youthful passenger cars Toyota has built."
The next-generation Yaris rides on an all-new platform that is longer and wider than its predecessor. Air conditioning, tilt-steering wheel, and color-keyed mirrors and door handles are among the many standard features.
The Yaris interior provides unexpected roominess and a comfortable cabin. The upscale interior provides remarkable design and a rear seat featuring a center headrest. Driver and front passenger advanced airbags, and ample storage space are among the array of standard interior features.
Powering the Yaris liftback will be a 1.5-liter four-cylinder engine with variable valve timing with intelligence (VVT-i) that will have impressive fuel economy. Mated to either a five-speed manual or four-speed automatic transmission, the engine will produce 106 horsepower and 103 ft.-lb. of torque. Combined with the MacPherson strut front and rear torsion beam suspension, the Yaris will offer fun-to-drive handling and excellent maneuverability.
In addition to good overall handling, the Yaris also will offer seat-mounted side and front and rear side curtain airbags, anti-lock brakes, an audio system with MP3 capability and mini-jack port, power windows, mirrors and door locks, and a 60/40 split rear seat with reclining, sliding and fold flat features among its optional equipment.
A four-door sedan configuration of the Yaris will be unveiled at a press conference at the 2006 Los Angeles Auto Show.
The 2006 Yaris is 110 mm longer and 30 mm wider than the Echo Hatchback with a 90 mm longer wheelbase, significantly improving interior room, notably rear seat legroom. As well, the new Yaris now has five seatbelts compared to the Echo Hatchback’s four, and three height-adjustable rear head restraints.
Other noteworthy improvements over the Echo Hatchback include new electric rack and pinion steering, electronic throttle, revised suspension tuning, improved front head restraints, optional sliding/reclining rear seats, increased interior storage, improved crash protection for occupants and pedestrians, greater ease of repair, and more parts that can be recycled in an environmentally-friendly manner at the end of the car’s life.
2006 pricing is slightly higher, but the level of standard equipment is also higher - in addition to the other improvements. The base two-door Yaris CE starts at $13,580 compared to the 2005 Echo CE which started at $12,995 - however, the Yaris CE now has standard power steering. But ABS is no longer standard.
The Yaris new body structure has been designed to achieve the highest government crash test ratings in the subcompact class, says Toyota - as well as providing more protection for pedestrians. For example, the hood and roof panels are designed to yield if a pedestrian is struck, reducing head injuries.
As well, the front bumper and headlights have been designed with attachments that absorb crash energy in minor fender benders without breaking expensive parts like the radiator.
Inside are dual-stage driver and front passenger airbags with a right-front passenger sensor, and newly designed front seats with head restraints designed to reduce the effects of whiplash. At the rear are three height adjustable head restraints that slide down when not in use so as not to interfere with the driver’s rear vision.
Typically, rear passengers forget to raise these type of head restraints when they get in the car, but the Yaris solves that problem by making them very uncomfortable unless they are raised. Clever thinking.
Also included are front seatbelt pretensioners and force limiters, and child seat tether anchors, but LE models do not have rear door child locks.
Another omission: side airbags are not available, even as an option. I think Toyota should re-think this because side-impact crash studies show that side airbags reduce injury levels when vehicles are T-boned, particularly in small cars.