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ZEN & THE ART OF INCONSPICUOUS CONSUMPTION: THE TOYOTA SCHOOL

This article is from our archives and has not been updated and integrated with our "new" site yet... Even so, it's still awesome - so keep reading!

Published on Wed, May 11, 2011

By: The LACar Editorial Staff

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2011 Toyota Yaris sedan

Carmakers have us all convinced about needing everything from motorized windows to motorized side mirrors, but these are things we all once did without. There are a few bargain basement cars out there that provide us a lesson on what you really don’t need in your car. It’s tantamount to zen and the art of inconspicuous consumption. Yes, the features are initially missed, but it’s surprising how quickly one adjusts. It’s like adjusting from Coke to Diet Coke. Toyota’s sugar-free car is the Yaris. Editor John-Fredrik Wright gets a lesson in zen—Toyota style. By John-Fredrik Wright The Yaris, a car that you either know exactly what it is, or you have no idea that Toyota manufactures a car named Yaris. For those who do not know what a Yaris is, think small. Not really an EU-size small, 'cause the sedan model that is being reviewed here isn't even sold in Sweden where I hang out a lot. Swedes, and most of the rest of the EU have to make do with the Hatchback (which are also sold in the USA) models, which are about 18” shorter than the sedan. A Yaris is a common sight in the Stockholm area, my neighbor drives a Yaris, and you see them all over the place. The Yaris is also sold in the US. Starting at $12,955 (the 3-door Liftback), and with the fuel efficiency of 29/35, the Yaris is perfect for the consumer who wants a small, reliable car, even if it won’t be the coolest car on the block. If you feel like going “all in”, you can purchase the Yaris Sedan with a 1.5L 4-cylinder engine and an automatic transmission for $14,515. This is what is being reviewed here, and no, even if it is a “sedan” and it does have four doors, it is not very big. Don’t get your hopes up.

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Instead, be reasonable. This is a reasonable car, priced reasonably, with a reasonable amount of features. It is not the kind of car you buy to show off, or is it? It depends on what you are showing off. If you are trying to flaunt your excessive cash, or bling your way through the supermarket parking lot this is not your choice, albeit a blinged-out Yaris would be pretty funny (think Pimp My Ride funny). If you are aiming at showing how reasonable you are, how you prioritize other non-material things in your life, or if you want to show the world that you don’t care what the newest coolest car is; this is the exotic car you’ve been looking for. And at around $15,000, you’ll still have money for gas (not that you’ll need a lot), for insurance costs (not so much), and for service and reparation (this is a Toyota though, probably don’t need to much of that either). After all this, you’ll still have cash to spend on other fancy things to bling up your life! The 1.5 liter 4-cylinder engine generates 106 hp, more than enough to get moving, but probably not enough to make any split decisions where you might need to accelerate quickly. The Yaris may not look super-flashy, but it does not look bad either; a classic exterior, not saying too much, but neither does it say too little.

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Driving at Freeway speeds the Yaris handles ok, just like you might assume a $15,000 car might. It wiggles a little if you make any hasty maneuvers, and it is not the kind of car that can accelerate so fast on an on ramp that it needs to be reined in while merging with traffic. It is, however, the kind of car you use to transport yourself from point A to point B, this it does very well. In fact, LA Car’s Bill Wright drove the Yaris up and down the state of California without any problems. Being the big guy he is, I would have expected to hear something like “wow, now that was too small of a car”, but no. Sure, the ride would have been more comfortable in a Mercedes, but then the price would have been a little uncomfortable. Instead, the superb gas mileage compensates for any back problems (you’re supposed to stop every so often anyway, remember?). He mentioned that the Yaris was equipped with a number of options that make a long drive a lot easier. First among these was Cruise Control. You don't really appreciate the value of Cruise Control until you are driving on a highway like I5, or any other Interstate away from a city. Your mileage improves, and it should help to avoid driving too fast (unless you set it at too high a speed, of course).

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Being a person prone to be impressed by the luxurious, fast, or in some other way cool, cars, I thought I was going to dislike the Yaris from the get-go. But, to my surprise I have no complaints. The car performs just as it should, not more, not less. It will definitely get you to wherever you want to go, and it will save you a bunch of money while doing it. I might have a hard time being “impressed” by subcompacts as a whole, but I am definitely impressed by the Yaris for what it is and what it stands for. SUMMARY JUDGMENT Toyota’s recipe for inconspicuous consumption is easy on the taste buds For more information about the Toyota Yaris, go to toyota.com/yaris

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SPECIFICATIONS Name of vehicle: 2011 Toyota Yaris Sedan Price: $13,155 (base 3-door hatchback) $14,715 (base 4-door sedan) $14,515 (as tested) EPA fuel economy rating: 19 mpg (city) 35 mpg (highway) Engine size and type: 1.5 Liter DOHC 16-Valve Variable Valve Timing with intelligence (VVT-i) 4-cylinder Horsepower: 106 @ 6000 rpm Torque: 103 lb.-ft. @ 4200 rpm Transmission type: 4-speed Electronically Controlled automatic Transmission (ECT) Drive configuration: Front-wheel drive (FWD) Steering (type): Electric Power Steering (EPS): power-assisted rack-and-pinion Suspension (front and rear): Independent MacPherson strut front, torsion beam rear suspension and front stabilizer bar Brakes and tires: Power-assisted ventilated front disc/rear drum with Anti-lock Brake System (ABS), Electronic Brake-force Distribution (EBD) and Brake Assist (BA) P175/65R14 Dimensions: Length: 169.3 in Width: 66.5 in Height; 57.5 in Curb weight: 2346 lbs

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