Moving Day… in a Toyota Yaris??
I’ve always been a fan of the basic stock car, especially the hatchback. With the sporty upscale hardware that we get to drive regularly, I realize this is a bit of an oxymoron.
This weekend featured numerous oxymora. Youngest daughter is moving houses in the small town where she attends university. Oxymoron #1: Spring Moving Day in April. Spring? I think not. A strong north wind howls. Temperatures hover at 0 Celsius. Black-laced clouds threaten snow. I’m helping with the move but first there’s a two-and-a-half-hour road trip to get to her place.
Oxymoron #2: The vehicle with which I’m completing the manly moving mission is a 2012 Toyota Yaris.
Kind of like bringing a knife to a gun fight.
Toyotaclaims the all-new Yaris has a muscular and aggressive stance. I maintain it’s small and cute. But it does have attitude. I think it will hold its dignified own in a gun fight.
For 2012, the Yaris has a longer wheelbase, a 14.5-centimetre longer rear cargo space and a hatch opening that’s two centimetres wider than its predecessor. This is a good thing because, during the move request from Daughter, there was a distinct murmur of ‘bookshelf’ and ‘couch’. Ouch. Again with the knife at a gun fight.
But both back seats fold down (not quite flat), so we’ll give it the old college try.
My tester is the five-door LE model, basest of the base except this one has the convenience package which includes power windows, cruise control and keyless entry. This ups the base price to $16,990 from $13,990.
The Yaris is slightly more expensive than its similarly-equipped competitors, namely the Honda Fit, Hyundai Accent, Kia Rio, Ford Fiesta, Chevrolet Sonic and Mazda2. I think where the Yaris would fall short would be in competing with the bold, funky and feisty looks of some of its competition.
But there is something to be said for retaining resale value and here, besides the Honda, the Yaris would probably win. So if I were the owner of this Yaris, I could afford to indulge in my guilty habit. Oxymoron #3: Starbucks for the road.
The expensive frothy beverage fits nicely in one of three cupholders. I’m on my merry way with the 1.5-litre four-cylinder engine that pumps out 106 horsepower. The five-speed manual transmission makes it fun to drive. And I didn’t really miss a sixth gear. Too much.
I like the big fat climate control knobs in the centre of the dashboard, the placement of the cruise control stalk on the right side of the steering column and the bold print that tells me exactly how to set and adjust the speed.
The side mirror controls are another ‘like’. The large square button sits on the dash just above my left knee and clearly displays the words MIRROR/LEFT/RIGHT.
The steering wheel’s slightly straightened bottom edge gives it a sporty feel. Toyota’s advertising states ‘Epic Design’ and, for the most part, I agree. Seats are comfortable but the driver’s seat may benefit from an armrest for longer roadtrips.
The instrument panel is un-convoluted: a push of a knob cycles through the multi-information display options, giving A and B trip odometer readings, fuel economy, distance to an empty tank and average speed — simple.
The tank is full when I start. Back in the driveway, 450 kilometres later, I still have a 130-km range. My average fuel economy on the outbound, with no cargo, is 6.4 l/100 km. Transport Canada gives the Yaris ratings of 6.6 city, 5.2 highway, 6.0 combined. My return journey reads 7.0 l/100 km but the headwind is palpable and the Yaris is loaded with stuff that falls into Daughter’s can’t-deal-with-this-right-now category.
Toyotaclaims ‘Epic Safety’ with its best-in-class nine airbags. There is a bit of road wander at speeds of around 115 km/hr but that could be the epic wind out here today.
The 2012 Yaris has improved interior space than the previous generation and this brings us to Oxymoron #4. Four volleyballers plus me need a Moving Day lunch break. The girls look perplexed when they see their ride to a downtown sandwich shop. One whispers: ‘It looks like a clown car!’
But the Yaris handles the tall ladies with no scraping of heads on the ceiling and adequate leg room. Even though a major road trip for five is not in our future, the micro urban road trip is deemed a success.
Well, except for a couple of wrong turns, U-turns and tight squeezes, whereupon Hungry Daughter, through clenched jaw, hisses, “Mom, what are you doing?”.
With irritating cheer, I reply: “Why, I’m trying out the Yaris’ best-in-segment turning radius.”
The Oxymoronic Moving Day is almost at an end. Boxes have been schlepped, shelves have been set up, books have been lugged, dishes, pots and pans transferred.
I reckon the Yaris fulfilled its mission although the couch didn’t fit. I reason the distance from old house to new digs is about 9/10th of a kilometre. Isn’t that what Daughter’s varsity athlete friends are for? Hoist that couch and get walking!
And I’ll set the 2012 Toyota Yaris on cruise control and get home, in epic style.