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January 24, 2017

Review: 2017 Toyota Vios 1.5 G and Toyota Yaris 1.5 G

Go ahead and stare as hard as you can. No matter how good you are in playing “Spot the Difference”, you will never be able to tell the 2017 Vios and Yaris apart from their refreshed versions. Save for the now standard side skirt and rear lip spoiler on the Vios 1.5G (and some new colors), these two sub-compact cars look unchanged from the models Toyota Motor Philippines launched four years ago. Or are they? Pop the hood and you’ll see the words, “Dual VVT-i” embossed on the now silver-colored engine cover. This is where all that change is concentrated in and it makes a world of difference.

One can be overly critical of Toyota’s move to introduce the NR-series engine just now, but it’s better late than never. On paper, it makes the same sort of power and torque figures (107 horsepower, 140 Nm) as the NZ-series that it’s replacing, but it does so with cleaner emissions. It’s designed to be Euro-4 compliant out of the box and can be made to go Euro-5 with just some optimizations. Now, while this news is all good for Mother Earth, what does it mean for the drive? Simply put: this is the engine the Vios and Yaris should have come with from the get-go.

Before the new engine, the Vios and Yaris twins were noticeably coarse-sounding. Though improved sound insulation over the model years mostly reduced them to muffles, they’re still audible as the rev counter goes up. With the new 2NR-FE engine, it’s all gone. Twisting the key and the engine comes to life with a rather unconvincing tinny sound. But as it settles to its 700 rpm idling speed, it becomes remarkably quiet and smooth; better than anything the old powerplant could muster. From there, it moves from strength to strength. At lower rpms, it maintains that composure, maintaining its hushed nature while at higher rpms, it’s free from any vibration or harshness whatsoever.

Apart from answering the clamor for a more refined driving experience, this new engine in the Vios and Yaris answers yet another glaring complaint experienced by owners: poor fuel economy. While it was excruciatingly hard to keep the “Eco” coaching light lit with the older powerplant, it’s almost always on in this new one save for full throttle applications. This observation is only backed up by actual fuel mileage where the new engine provides up to 7 percent better fuel economy especially during city driving; and though the engine plays a huge part in improving the overall fuel economy, the adoption of a CVT over the archaic 4-speed automatic helps too.

Sadly, these improvements aren’t without their drawbacks. The biggest one is the lack of oomph, particularly for the heavier Vios. This is obvious from a standstill, where pressing on the gas pedal results in increased engine sound and pretty much nothing else. It’s only when the revs go above 2,300 rpm that some decent speed is felt. The Yaris, being the lighter one fares better. It feels sprightlier, closely mimicking the performance of the old drivetrain combination. Now, the CVT is largely to blame here since its tuning is less than athletic. Compared to other gearless automatics, Toyota’s slush box emphasizes “slush” far too much. It takes more than a moment to find a good rhythm. Thankfully, once it finds it though, there’s good enough pace to get around. Command an overtake though and the gearbox gets perplexed once more, taking some time to shuffle up its ratios to produce grunt. Slotting the gearbox into the simulated +/- does help things a bit, but not as much as you’d hope.

Apart from the new engine and transmission, the rest of the Vios and Yaris experience hasn’t changed much. Outside, it sports the same “keen look” Toyota family design that first appeared in 2013. The sharp and angular styling is holding up quite well despite its ubiquity and age, though minor changes particularly with the wheel design would have been very welcome.

There are far more noticeable changes in the cabin, but they’re all of the aesthetic kind. It’s headlined by the discontinuation of the controversial two-tone black-and-beige scheme (at least for the Vios 1.5G). Like its hatchback sibling, the Vios sedan now sports a monotonous all-black interior across the line that not only increases its sporty vibe, but makes it easier to clean and maintain. And to reduce the gloominess, Toyota has given a spattering of color in the form of colored seat stitching. It echoes the color scheme in the instrument cluster with the Vios getting blue stiches while the Yaris getting orange ones. There are other minor changes that differentiate the siblings. The Vios gets chrome bits on the air vents and better surfacing on the multimedia paneling while the Yaris makes do without the silver accent that spans the dashboard. And on the subject of the multimedia system, it swaps the old integrated head unit for a full touchscreen one. It offers more input options including smartphone mirroring at the expensive of easier tactile operation (there’s no physical volume knob for one).

Sadly, these aesthetic changes don’t address the pair’s aging ergonomics and space utilization. Compared to its newer rivals, the seating position is less than ideal with the steering wheel positioned too far. At night, the gauges don’t offer any adjustable dimming and this may be problematic for people with sensitive eyes. There’s also a severe lack of cubby holes as well. Aside from the oddly-shaped storage tray in front of the shifter, there’s nowhere else to put things like sunglasses, loose change, and smartphones (the Vios though has a covered armrest storage box).

Like how the interior hasn’t fundamentally changed, the Vios and Yaris conduct themselves pretty much the same way like they did before: good, but not in any stellar way. The driving feel is largely uninvolving, but the quieter and more relaxed nature of the drivetrain does match the road behavior better. It’s solid, stable, and comfortable, tuned more for compliancy than feedback. Through deeper corners and curves, there’s more understeer and body lean, magnified only by the slow steering response. The brakes could also use better modulation as they’re grabby because of their short pedal stroke.

Toyota’s small car offerings have always appealed to those wanting a more sensible rather than outright sexy choice. Though they’ve tried to change that thinking with events like a one-make race and the offering of TRD kits, both the Vios and its slightly stylish sibling, the Yaris, never made adjectives like ‘fast’ and ‘sporty’ stick. Even the adoption of a new powertrain does little to change that. In fact, the new NR-series engine only serves to improve its practicality even more. Not only does it offer a quieter and smoother driving experience, but it’s now got the fuel efficiency befitting a small car. And fundamentally, that’s where all the work on the 2017 Vios and Yaris has gone to. More than ever, they are solid entry-level passenger cars that work and perform as advertised, nothing more and nothing less.

2017 Toyota Vios 1.5G and 2017 Toyota Yaris 1.G
Ownership 2017 Toyota Vios 1.5G 2017 Toyota Yaris 1.5G
Year Introduced 2013 (Refreshed: 2016) 2014 (Refreshed: 2016)
Vehicle Classification Sub-compact Sedan Sub-compact Hatchback
The Basics
Body Type 4-door sedan 5-door hatchback
Seating 5 5
Engine / Drive F/F F/F
Under the Hood
Displacement (liters) 1.5 1.5
Aspiration Normally Aspirated Normally Aspirated
Fuel Delivery EFI EFI
Layout / # of Cylinders I4 I4
BHP @ rpm 107 @ 6,000 107 @ 6,000
Nm @ rpm 140 @ 4,200 140 @ 4,200
Fuel / Min. Octane Gasoline / 91~ Gasoline / 91~
Transmission CVT CVT
Cruise Control No No
Fuel Economy @ Ave. Speed 10.48 km/L @ 17 km/h 9.88 km/L @ 15 km/h
Dimensions and Weights
Length (mm) 4,410 4,115
Width (mm) 1,700 1,700
Height (mm) 1,475 1,475
Wheelbase (mm) 2,550 2,550
Curb Weight (kg) 1,060 1,040
Suspension and Tires
Front Suspension Independent, MacPherson Strut Independent, MacPherson Strut
Rear Suspension Torsion Beam Axle Torsion Beam Axle
Front Brakes Vented Disc Vented Disc
Rear Brakes Disc Disc
Tires Yokohama dB Decidel E70,
185/60 R 15 H (f & r)
Yokohama dB Decidel E70,
185/60 R 15 H (f & r)
Wheels Alloy Alloy
Safety Features
Airbags 2 2
Anti-Lock Brakes (ABS) Yes Yes
Traction / Stability Control No No
Parking Sensors No No
Other Safety Features No No
Exterior Features
Headlights Halogen Halogen
Fog Lamps Front Front, Rear
Auto Lights No No
Rain-sensing Wipers No No
Interior Features
Steering Wheel Adjust Tilt Tilt
Steering Wheel Material Leather Leather
Seating Adjustment Manual Manual
Seating Surface Fabric Fabric
Folding Rear Seat No Yes, 60/40
On-Board Computer Yes Yes
Convenience Features
Power Steering Yes Yes
Power Door Locks Yes Yes
Power Windows Yes Yes
Power Mirrors Yes, with Fold Yes, with Fold
Climate Control Manual Manual
Audio System Stereo
Mirror Link
Mirror Link
# of Speakers 6 6
Steering Controls Yes Yes


  1. The Yaris still looks like Mr Shoo Li from takeshis castle

    1. it looks like a catfish up front

  2. I still like the look of this vios than the newly released facelifted vios. It feels more clean looking but looking forward for the facelifted i hope they put more features like the traction control and stability control push start with smart entry, automatic climate control and leather seats are standard in a variant in thailand. :( Sad that toyota motor philippines doesn't listen to consumers. Even the hilux is under spec'd here in our market

    1. Do you know why toyota ph doesn't listen to consumers? Because the toyota cult in the ph is strong, they know most people will still buy a lame vios over lets say a far better equipped, better driving, and better quality city or mazda 2.

    2. That's because of the perceived reliability the company has with their cars.

  3. Only fools would buy this over the city, mazda 2, or even the accent diesel.

    1. oh ok, there are hundered thousands of fools here in the philippines then.

    2. Maintenance wise the Vios is a bit cheaper to maintain than the Honda City. For the Mazda 2, your friends better not have legs when they sit at the back. The Accent diesel...well I used to own the current model..don't ask me why I sold it and bought an Altis instead

    3. So why did you sell the accent?

  4. the mags should be considered as the national mags of the PH.

  5. This is true until you need to buy parts for your car for repairs. Dun mo lang maaappreciate ang Toyota. Spare parts are easier to find and cost less than other brands

    1. So you buy a 700k+ car and worry about a few thousand pesos of repair several years from the date of purchase, how smart of you. In my own opinion, experiencing to drive and ride a great car like the honda city or mazda 2 every single day is more preferable than to buy an okay car. I find the logic of Toyota having a reputation for reliability and buyers who buy a toyota because it will be easier and cheaper to repair by a small margin ridiculous. You buy a toyota because you fear future breakdowns? lol

    2. Buying a car is easy if you have the money already. Maintaining it in the long run is harder. It is part of the thing called OWNERSHIP. It is not just drive your car and go. These fools above have no idea about the experience of owning a car because perhaps they don't own one.

    3. Perhaps. I think people parrot the 'spare parts availability' is because of the brand's reputation.

      The brand's popularity will drive many alternative, non genuine parts to flood the market, and I think the reason people say Toyota is affordable is because of these alternatives.

      But if you pit it against other brands, using strictly genuine parts, I don't think the difference is much.

  6. Are these people multi-millionaires the way they comment on these cars? Parang napakarami nilang pera at mamahaling sasakyan kung makapagcomment. Ang yayabang nyo!!!

  7. Still my 2nd generation vios M/T is far more fuel efficient than the 2013 version because 2013 model has heavier body and idk if this counts yokohama tires is has softer compound than a goodyear tire. Based sa experience ko. My cousin has 2013 A/T version and of course mine is 2010 M/T vios. Both from Manila to Pangasinan. We only spent almost Php 1.1k on gas balikan and 2013 spent almost Php 3.3k and its an A/T variant E. And one of the toyota head mechanic says 2nd gen is probably better than the new one. But i guess mabigat lang yung paa ng nagdadrive sa cousin ko though still its noticeable comparing 2 same engines 1.3L 2NZ-FE. Ewan ko lang sa bagong dual vvti ng vios ngayon.

    1. Ps. My vios has Goodyear Eagle NCT5 set to 35 psi on all tires(i know theyre higher than recommended but i know what im doing :)) my cousin's has Yokohama i think its DB from factory.

  8. Personally I find it difficult to justify this over an entry level Honda City (or even an Amaze for that matter)

    Same engine displacement, but the City's got more power. City also beats this in terms of cabin storage space. On the dash, there's not much difference, but the City looks cleaner.

  9. Last year, I had a lot of sleepless nights choosing between Vios 1.3 E and the base City 1.5 E MT. Ended up with the Vios because it had better rims/wheels, better head unit, and a larger discount. For the higher variants, no question, city is the better car over all. But for the lower variants or if you really want to drive a manual trans, less headache yung vios since wala ka nang kailangang palitan unless you really want to upgrade. Never had a bad experience with Toyota after service with my prev cars. The longest I had to wait was 5 days for a Japan imported part, but usually parts ordered were delivered to the CASA within 1-2 days. I don't care if people think its boring or cheap. My wallet's not complaining with Toyota, we have a 25 yr old corolla as a daily car up to now. Hopefully tumagal din yung Vios.

  10. The vios 2017 g variant has a traction control sign in the pannel but has no traction control feature,so whats the purpose of that in the pannel?


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