Thursday, August 8, 2013

Used Car Review - Toyota Vios (2007-2013)

With the new model under the spotlight, Myk Belmonte evaluates the predecessor which is still a great bargain.

2007-2013 Toyota Vios

So, how can you signal whenever there is a new model coming? Apart from the usual leaked photos on the net, Facebook posts by employees of that car company, and some chika with the salespeople; big discounts are also one indicator when a car is ripe for replacement. In the case of the second generation Vios which mostly happened in the first portion of the year, huge price offs were published and depending on the salesman, can add some more cuts to the SRP.

First introduced in Japan as the Toyota Belta in November 2005, with exports being commenced the following year. Also sold in North America and Australia as the Yaris sedan and South and South East Asia using the Vios name. While Japanese units are either available with a 1.0 or 1.3 engine, some countries have the more potent 1.5 powerplant. Last March 2013, the third generation Vios was previewed at the Bangkok  Motor Show of that year, so by now all markets may have discontinued sales of the second generation model.

August 2007 saw the launch of the second generation Vios and for the first time, it was locally assembled as opposed to the previous model's Thailand importation. It gained more inches in terms of exterior and interior size than the model it replaced. By now, the third generation model (introduced last month) is on display at the nearest Toyota showroom but there could be some leftover units that some dealers have in stock. Updates occurred in April 2010, October 2011, and October 2012 which involved a minor facelift and addition of new variants. Available trim lines throughout selling life include the 1.3 base that targeted taxi fleets (added in 2012), 1.3 J, 1.3 J Limited (included in 2012), 1.3 E (deleted in 2012), 1.3 G (launched in October 2011 and replaced the E), 1.5 G, 1.5 S (made available in 2009 until April 2010), 1.5 G Limited XX (from 2008 to 2009), 1.5 TRD Sportivo, and the 1.5 G SE (2011-early 2012).

Value and Costs
With the current generation model being on sale for now, expect Vios residuals to dip down. Can't afford the new model? Then a used second generation one is a prudent choice with units priced in the range of P320,000-P580,000. Go with a unit sold from October 2010 and later to ensure that it has the remaining chunk of the warranty.

This is already very cliche when it comes to Toyota Vios commentaries, parts are affordable and can be purchased anywhere plus fuel economy is tops. While the Vios is reliable, be cautious of the rear suspension which can sag (as evidenced by some taxi units roaming around) and some overheating problems (the myth with taxis having their hood opened while driving).

Exterior and Interior
Neither polarizing nor sleek, the exterior design is just right. Prior to April 2010, the grille looked like it was extended (notice the single silver lining passing through the mesh grille) from the previous model which isn't offensive. The minor update had the front resemble a person smiling with braces, which is something a subject of debate. The rear isn't something to be a subject of praise, but definitely in the average side. Special edition models have a share of 17 inch wheels (the G SE makes do with 16 ones), and side skirts. Side mirror repeaters come standard in 1.5 models only.

Of course, the interior of the Vios would be remembered for its center clustered gauges, which has now migrated to where it should be for the new model, in front of the driver. Except for the J trims, a center cluster complemented with some silver lining (matte black was added in the 2010 update) which houses the radio (the J makes do with basically a 1-DIN audio unit, with 2010 and later models utilizing the one being used in the Innova but was reverted a year later) and climate controls, but it takes some time to get used to it. Some cheap materials made its way inside but hey, you're buying something below a million bucks so don't expect too much. Drivers get an awkward position with either being close to the tiller or being far from the pedals, but overall cabin space is excellent. Another negative is the useless cup holder mounted in the dash which is impossible to open due to the misaligned dash. Want leather seats and a folding rear bench? Try hunting for a 1.5 G model but you can have one with an automatic and that option was dropped in the 2010 update. Power windows are available across the line except for the Base and pre-2010 J models.

The usual cuisine in the sub-compact menu are two engine options, and the smallest (and most common one) is the 2NZ-FE 1,298cc that possess 85hp at 6,000rpm and 122Nm at 4,400rpm used in the Base, J, E, and G variants. Want something big? The menu suggests you the 1NZ-FE 1,497cc which has 107hp at 6,000rpm and 142Nm at 4,200rpm on tap. First the 1.3 models have decent power and still a great cruiser (but keep the revs lower) on long drives. Automatics are only made available during the 2010 update, so hunt one if you want something convenient yet small. On the other hand, the 1.5 is smooth when takeoff and has reserve power when overtaking but don't drive it on the upper range of the revs, since it will huff and puff on that case. Not fast, but decent enough for your needs.

Driving Impressions
Boring to drive, but you'll benefit from a quiet cabin thanks to the engines that keep the revs in the low to mid range. Ride quality is on the comfortable side, but then why would taxi operators (and even the passengers) won't choose the Vios if it had a firm ride? Handling is nothing special, it can bring you to your destination without fuzz.

The Vios is one great city car that is reliable, fuel efficient and most importantly in this article, easy to find in the market. Sure, criticize it for its dull steering and asthmatic to high revs engine, but if you need something cheap, compact, and modern, fit the Vios in your shopping list.

The Good:
  • Reliable
  • Sips gas like a bird
  • Ample space inside
The Bad:
  • Boring to drive
  • Middle gauges not for everyone
  • Dislikes high revs
The Pick: 1.3 E or 1.5 G

Engines: 1,298cc 2NZ-FE and 1,497cc 1NZ-FE I4 gasoline
Power: 85hp @ 6,000rpm (1.3), 107hp @ 6,000rpm (1.5)
Torque: 122Nm @ 4,400rpm (1.3), 142Nm @ 4,200rpm (1.5)
Fuel Consumption: 8-11km/L (city), 10-14km/L (highway) (*estimated and varies)
Transmission: 5-speed manual, 4-speed automatic
Suspension: Front independent McPherson strut, rear rigid axle with torsion beam

Price (New): P575,000-P860,000
Price (Now): P320,000-P580,000
Rivals: Honda City, Hyundai Accent, Kia Rio, Ford Fiesta, Mazda 2, Chevrolet Aveo
On Sale: 2007-2013

Toyota Bicutan - (02) 777-9500
Toyota Manila Bay - (02) 581-6168
Toyota Balintawak North - (02) 927-7215

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