The 2007 Toyota Yaris Liftback is so cute is should be sold at the Hello Kitty website. It’s not a twin for the Japanese, uh, novelty character that’s so popular with little girls of all ages, but it has the same wide-eyed innocence and giggly-sweet personality. It’s teddy bear huggable and puppy dog playful.
And if you think that makes it difficult for a moderately mature-looking American male to drive a Toyota Yaris Liftback for a week, you’re durn tootin’ right. “Uh, yeah, it’s my daughter’s car” is a lie one can tell only so many times.
To be fair, the two-door Toyota Yaris Liftback, along with its four-door Toyota Yaris Sedan partner, is the most economical model in the Toyota lineup. With a base price of $11,850 and a stingy 1.5-liter engine EPA rated at 34/39 mpg with an automatic transmission, it rivals the Toyota Prius for affordability, particularly when purchase price is factored in. It may not be a hybrid but its financial footprint is small, particularly so considering the absence of a battery pack and the manufacture and disposal of same.
But if the Yaris Liftback is cute, it’s cute very well done. The overall profile would be “one box” if it were at all boxy. Instead the silhouette of the Yaris Liftback was drawn with a French curve, then the windows and wheels were drawn in. The kitten nose is stubby with a compact “T” grille and a hood so short it’s really more of an access panel.
The styling inventiveness continues inside with armrests the sweep up to the A-pillar and the center stack that forms a T, with horizontal radio controls across the top and simple HVAC dials aligned vertically below it. The instrument panel is contained in a single pod centered atop the dash, like that of the Toyota Echo that the Yaris replaces, because that makes it easier to sell in countries with right and left-hand drive. There’s a just a speedometer on the i.p. Like, what would anyone do with a tachometer, whatever that is, anyway? It’s an option with the manual transmission on the Sedan, so like, whatever.
Cup holders fold down at either end of the dash, inconvenient but there’s little other real estate for them, particularly with all the bins and cubbies, more than in a pink backpack, actually. The Toyota Yaris Liftback has big double-decker gloveboxes, there are bins either side of the center stack, another at the driver’s shin and a flat open tray ahead of the shifter for the automatic transmission. There’s a lidded bin above the steering wheel where the instrument panel normally would be, and a pencil-sized tray is alongside the lift-up handbrake lever.
A couple of oddities: The Yaris’ central locking system includes a door lock-unlock button on the driver’s door, and there’s one on the center console, but none on the passenger’s door. There’s also a power window lockout on the driver’s door but the only other window that opens is the passenger door’s. The hatchback isn’t included in the power locking system. It unlocks, and locks, with the key only.