Driving Impression>> 2009 Toyota Yaris Type S

Since we recently featured some photos of a Toyota Vitz Cup car at Suzuka Circuit, I thought I'd write a story about its North American counterpart, the Toyota Yaris. Toyota Motor Sales recently debuted the newest body style of Yaris, the 5-door liftback version, so I couldn't resist the opportunity to take a Sport model Yaris 5-door for a test drive.

Overall styling wise, I definitely think the 5-door version of the Yaris Type S is the best looking Yaris in the lineup. I really like the way the rear end of the car looks, with the roof wing and sporty looking rear bumper. However, the main thing I like is the added length and utility of having rear doors, since whenever I go out, I usually need to lug camera equipment with me or a friend or two. Having rear doors definitely makes life easier in terms of lugging things around. I used this Yaris to go to a fashion photo shoot in downtown LA, and was able to pack the rear seats with a bunch of big light stands, lights, and cords, while the trunk was filled with lens cases, two computers, and some other random accessories.

My other favorite feature of the car was its gas economy! I felt as if the gas lasted me forever! In fact, with all the driving I normally do, from Torrance to Pasadena to West Covina to Downtown LA to Hollywood, I had the full gas tank last for six whole days. I knew the Yaris had good gas mileage, but I was really surprised at just how good it was! Toyota rates the Yaris' fuel economy at 29mpg city/35mpg highway. I personally found the Yaris fuel economy to be incredible, averaging between 33 to 34mpg during the time I had the car – this is awesome considering it was carrying me, a friend, and a ton of heavy camera equipment all over town. Not to mention, you get to use cheap 87 octane gas in the Yaris! Perfect. Since gas prices will be going up eventually, I think a fuel economical car like a Yaris is a great choice if you need a weekday commute car to get you around town, while your high horsepower, "under the table smog" track monster sits in your garage waiting for your weekend track events.

If you wanted to make a Yaris look cooler, you could always lower it with coilovers from an aftermarket manufacturer (like Tein or some other brand) and put some nice wheels on it! In fact, I was wondering what type of wheels I'd like to use if I owned a red Yaris like this.

The Yaris Type S comes with 185/60/R15 tires and alloy wheels from the factory. Imagine how cool this car would look dropped low to the ground with coilovers, and some wide 15 inch wheels with 195/50/15 tires. Of course your gas mileage might suffer a bit, using 10mm wider tires, but it won't be that much of a difference. The lower profile tires will make the car even lower, provided you lower the coilovers enough to remove the fender gap!

So what wheels do you guys think will look better on this red Yaris? Gold Work Equip 03 wheels with polished lip? Or white Gram Lights 57C? White TE37s? Gunmetal RS Watanabes? AME Shallen LX with diamond cut finish?

I think the Yaris S's front bumper has a lot to do with making it look cool. I like the small lip that protrudes outward, and I definitely like the foglights. If I were to own one of these cars, I would definitely switch the headlights and foglights to HID to get maximum brightness and vision on the road. Plus, it would look cooler. 

I think aero mirrors would do a lot to improve the visual style of the car also, as would removing the front license plate. California has that stupid law about mandatory front license plates, but I think most cars look much better without it. What do you guys think… Is removing the front plate worth the risk of a $25 fix-it ticket? It is for me.

Anyway, I don't think I'd be getting any speeding tickets driving a Yaris – not with the gas efficient 1.5 liter 4 cylinder engine! It only produces 106 horsepower at 6000rpm, but it has VVTi, so it actually has an okay amount of torque (103 ft lbs at 4200rpm) to get you around town. Sure it's not as fast as, let's say… a Nissan 370Z, but if you think about it, it has just a little less horsepower than an AE86. It should be fine for just driving to and from work.

The trunk room isn't too big, but for me, it was big enough to fit my Pelican 1510 case that houses my lenses, my Burton 28L zoompack camera backpack, and my Incase backpack that houses my beloved unibody aluminum Macbook and external hard drive. I could still probably fit another bag and a couple of jackets in there if I wanted to.

While it took me a while to get used to the center dash-mounted gauge cluster, I really liked the MP3 and iPod enabled head unit, which allowed me to play all my favorite downloaded MP3s all day long. If you like hip hop, old school reggae and 1970s funky soul music like I do, download the free MP3 mixes on Phoreyz.net or subscribe to the DJ Daz and Stones Throw podcasts on iTunes.

The Yaris S that we had on loan wasn't a 5 speed manual; there were none available on the day we picked up the car, so we tested the 4speed electronically controlled transmission version instead. However, since we were just testing the car around town, and didn't intend on showing it any racetrack action, the automatic tranny did us just fine.

Perhaps our favorite interior feature on the car were the loads of different storage compartments! The Yaris S has more than enough storage for all of the things a photographer might use on a daily basis. Several cupholders to hold drinks and cell phones, point and shoot cameras, CDs, notepads, gum, headsets, and other miscellaneous items.

If a good looking, gas efficient, daily driver is what you're looking for in a brand new car, then the brand new 5-door Yaris Type S liftback just might be your answer. Just think, if you had a brand new, reliable car for commuting duties… then you could pick up a less comfortable, yet super fun vintage "smog exempt" car to build up as your racetrack monster!

-Antonio Alvendia



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sick RAPID sticker Antonio.


I thought this was Speedhunters not Edmunds

You might as well wrote that this article was sponsored by Toyota Dealers Of Southern California

My $.02

If there is nothing to write about I say dont write anything. Articles like this cheapen this great website.

Keep up the good work and I hope Speedhunters does not comercialize itself.


Thanks BH! Good eye!

Quick: We appreciate your comments! Hey, but to clear things up... Nothing on Speedhunters is sponsored by Toyota or anyone aside from EA. And we don't hardly ever write anything about NFS or EA.

We don't get money or anything else from Toyota or Lexus or Scion (okay, well I'm guilty of accepting those free mix CDs at the Scion booth at SEMA), like many of the other websites and magazines out there. We just thought it would be cool to profile this new body style of Yaris - we kinda like them! Sorry to ruin your day, man! Have a good one!


Way to stay classy Antonio, you're the man. I like this body style as well, now all you have to do is find an example with 400whp and a rollcage haha.


For me Which wheels I choose depend on the Colour of the car it self. Sence this car is Red I would never rock white TE37s, but rather the Buddy Club P1 SF Chalange white with Red. For me having a bit of matching red on the wheels is key if your going with white wheels.

However rather than thoes two my first choice: Rays TRD TF1 in bronze.

As for is the front plate removal worth the ticket?... For me I dont want to get stoped by Da PoLicE at all, ticket or no ticket. So I would do what Ive alwease done.. Front plate off to the side Evolution style.

Ive been achually considering geting the Yaris hatch for a daily driver... but Id probly grab the 2 door and do it more Cup style....... of course there is alwease the Honda Fit.


here is full of yaris (especially old versions). It is really fuel efficient, and we are continuously bombed with yaris commercials about its economy @.@


Props to Antonio for his consistently awesome photographic stylings, i love your lighting choices :P


I can see where Quick is coming from, but I like to see articles like this every once in a while. What's so bad about reviewing a new car? besides, in this case it brings the barrier to entry for most of the things on this website wayyyy down to the level of things most people can at least dream of affording.


as for the rims... Gold Equip 01's, not 03's, would be my choice ;D or maybe some gold SSR Mk3 or red Sakuras


Hey guys! Thanks for chiming in!


400hp rollcaged Yaris/Vitz?! Hellyea! Introduce me if you know of one! =)

Touge No Mikado:

AHHH Rays/TRD TF1 is a GREAT pick! I forgot all about those, can't believe it. Hmm... bronze though? I'm kinda tired of bronze, from seeing way too many bronze TEs. That's why I like white.

Man, you have got me beat. I don't even know exactly what the BuddyClub P1 SF Challenge looks like... I'll have to check it out. One of my boys works at Buddy Club, so if I saw a Yaris 5door in my future as a daily beater, those might be a good look! (Hopefully with a good hook! haha)


Man thank you for the props on the lighting! =) I appreciate that you appreciate it! As for Work Equip 01s, I'm definitely a fan. I own a set of 14x8 (-18) first gen ones and I have a set of 15x8.5 (-9) 3pc Equip 01s that I got from 5Zigen USA (also a Work distributor) too... but are you sure they're available in gold? I don't think I've ever seen them in that color...?

Okay, so you say SSR Mk3... do you prefer the oldschool type Mk3s for this car? Or the rare and elusive Mk-3R, which is for FF cars and was available in the 1990s?


I think for a red Yaris it would definitely have to be gold TE37s str8 up no GT-R concave. (For some reason I just don't think the Yaris could pull off concave TE's)


Mmmmmm STOCK.

a daily car you never have to worry about.


I only knew of Equip 01's being available in polished form or w/e, silver, but that doesn't mean they can't be refinished :)


as for SSR Mk3, i mean the old-school ones. i'm an old fashioned fellow, so i <3 old-school rims, and the more negative the offset, the better haha


It looks pretty rad. I agree about slamming it with proper wheels.

PS: maybe you should do a shoot with your own cars, haha Lots of blogs focus on other people shit, but it'd be nice to see what your rockin, also xD


etikoner: my cars are under construction right now... and unfortunately, still on backburner. sad to say, but since we have to update this site 29438572094572954 times per month, it leaves me with no free time to play with my own cars. once i get my new rear Espelir coilover springs, fix my steering rack, and go for its state inspection, then you will definitely see my AE86 on the site or in a magazine, and more importantly, back at events. but right now i can't drive the car, and no time to fix it. so sad.


Well the Yaris was only available in Malaysia just a few years ago and only recently I saw them more on the road. Too bad the pricing is awfully bad thanks to the local import tax. As for the wheels, what about Work Emotion CR Kai in white or a WedsSport SA-70? I'm sure they would look cooler than the more common wheels you've mentioned.


I wish they put the cluster gauge in front of the driver. I Personally think its annoying and retarded. But

I think I know why they still do it.

1. Assembly easier to handle LHD and RHD models.

2. Test crash reason since the Yaris/Vitz is design as small as possible.

-------The line of sight and room if in the front might be a hazard to the driver when crashed.

3. Keep the Front window have a wider field of vision. This is a trend for most cars if you have

not notice. Unlike some older models.

________________________other non-important reasons

3. Have to let everyone know how fast the car is going. JOKE lol

4. try to start a trend. not really working for me.

5. Toyota don't really care because they think the driver wont get a speeding ticket.

Even though in driving school said to check your speed ever so often. it might make you

head and neck hurt.


@etikoner: lol erick! ^_^

glad to see you here at speedhunters at well. :P

anyway, what a nice coverage and i agree as to what the other mentioned about the photography. wait, do they come out with a TRD variant for the 5 door? ^_^ over here in the PI, we have the older version of the yaris that has a special package of TRD kits and TRD liveries (decals and stripes). ^_^


Nice pics Antonio ; )

I realy dig the Yaris...3 doors tough...too bad i can´t afford one haha 8P


The center cluster isn´t that bad and it won´t hurt your neck...trust me...i've learn to drive in a 2nd gen Yaris 1.4 D-4D Manual (also drove the 1st gen, same engine) ^_^


I want that front lip if you know were I can get it please tell me I have the same toyota yaris
contact me on my facebook (anthony marcucci) or my email bravo_teen@hotmail.com