- Very cheap price
- Good ride
- Excellent fuel economy
- Instrument panel design seems gimmicky
- Doesn’t handle very well
- Front seats are small
The 2008 Toyota Yaris is one of the cheapest, and cheapest to run, of all new vehicles.
The 2008 Toyota Yaris Liftback model rides on a very short 96.9-inch wheelbase and is one of the shortest new vehicles, at about 150 inches long. It’s ideal as a commuter that can fit into the tightest parking spots, as well as handle longer trips when the need arises. While it maneuvers well, its suspension is somewhat soft.
Standard under the hood of both vehicles is a 1.5-liter, four-cylinder engine producing 106 horsepower—adequate for a small, light (less than 2,300 pounds) car of this type. Buyers can choose either a five-speed manual or four-speed automatic on the 2008 Toyota Yaris Liftback; the engine works quite well with both, though it’s a bit louder with the automatic. Fuel economy is very good, at 29 mpg city, 36 mpg highway with the manual. All models come standard with 14-inch wheels and air conditioning.
The interior is a contrast of good and bad elements, as Toyota obviously was trying to make a fashionable, desirable cabin while watching its price very carefully. The instrument panel itself in the 2008 Toyota Yaris Liftback has an attractive, almost gimmicky design, with the speedometer in the middle of the dash and a tall center stack of controls down the middle, but on closer inspection, it’s made of hard, easily scratched plastics. Front seats are rather small and skimpy, while the backseat on the Liftback is tough to get into, but decent for space; kids should be just fine back there. Base Liftback models are very basic, with manual winding windows.
The 2008 Yaris Liftback Sport model is a new addition to the lineup. The Yaris Liftback Sport gets body-color bumpers and side rocker panels; in addition, it picks up sport seats, a leather-trimmed steering wheel and shifter knob, 15-inch wheels, a rear defroster, a rear wiper, and an audio system with MP3 capability and an auxiliary jack.
Toyota prices the five-speed manual Liftback from $11,300; the Sedan with an automatic transmission starts at $12,900. The new 2008 Toyota Yaris Liftback Sport with a five-speed manual is priced at $12,975.
The Yaris was one of the worst-performing cars in the federal government’s safety tests, with only three stars for side-impact safety, and the IIHS rated the Yaris as "marginal" for rear impact. Major safety features such as anti-lock brakes and side impact airbags may be ordered optionally, but electronic stability control is not offered on the 2008 Toyota Yaris Liftback.
The Hyundai Accent comes in a three-door hatchback model and, thus, is the closest rival to the 2008 Toyota Yaris Liftback. It feels a little more solid on the road than the Yaris, but its fuel economy isn’t as good. The Kia Rio5 offers a package that’s a little roomier and more space-efficient, and it's a bit more fun to drive. Also at the bottom of the price scale is the Chevrolet Aveo5, a small five-door hatchback made by GM Daewoo. The Aveo doesn’t feel competitive with the Hyundai, Kia, or Toyota; its interior is slightly more spacious and comfortable, but it doesn’t perform as well. The most appealing vehicle in this crowd is the Honda Fit; although it's quite a bit more expensive, the Fit is safer, more expansive inside—thanks to the wonderful Magic Seat design—and more fun to drive.