The 2008 Toyota Yaris Liftback has styling that is, inside and out, far from conservative, and reviewers were quick to point out how the Yaris stands out from most other entry-level small cars.
“The two-door hatch’s funky styling was born in Toyota’s European design studio,” says Automobile, adding that, compared to the Echo that the Yaris replaced for 2007, the Liftback and sedan “no longer look like automotive design don’ts.”
“Overall, the styling is a bit quirky,” says Autobytel, “with the grille and headlights almost creating the automotive equivalent of a grin, but it helps distinguish the Yaris and imparts some personality.”
Several reviewers are surprised by Yaris's overt styling, a departure from the conservative direction that past Toyota small cars have taken. Autoblog thinks that “the design is deliberately weird enough” to be something sold under Toyota’s youth-oriented Scion brand instead. “Indeed,” continues the Autoblog reviewer, “Toyota’s supposedly hipper sub-brand offers the xD, a five-door on the same architecture as the three and four-door Yaris models.”
The sportier S model—which adds sport seats, larger wheels, more aggressive cladding, and a few other extras—was tested in several instances. “Outside, the S body kit and 15-inch wheels worked wonders on our tester, at least implying some sport if not actually delivering it,” says an Autobytel reviewer.
Reviewers are more split over the interior styling, which is also quite radical compared to other small cars, with its gauge cluster at the center of the instrument panel and a thin column of controls at the center. The layout “lends the Yaris a bigger feel inside,” says Autoblog, but Autobytel does not praise the setup, griping, “A center-mounted gauge cluster is nothing new, and neither are our complaints about it.”
“Toyota insists that drivers eventually get used to the unconventional location,” snipes the particularly snarky Automobile Magazine reviewer. “Yeah, and convicts eventually get used to cell block D.”
TheCarConnection.com’s editors, who initially thought that the 2008 Yaris Liftback’s styling was a bit too ovoid and odd, have warmed up to it, but they can’t say the same about instrument panel design.