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November 20, 2018

Review: 2018 Toyota Vios 1.3 E Prime A/T

It’s hard to get excited about driving the Toyota Vios; it is, the quintessential commuter car after all. However, there’s also no doubting its contribution to Toyota Motor Philippines’s bottom line. And among all the Vios variants, it’s the 1.3-liter that’s most important. Therefore, it’s time to cast all prejudice aside and find out if the 2018 Vios is all it’s cracked up to be.

Let’s tackle the most controversial thing about the 2018 Vios first: the styling. Toyota officially refers to this as the “fourth-generation model” when in reality it carries over the same platform and even hardpoints as the previous one; thus, it’s probably closer to being Version 3.99 than Version 4.0. Still, kudos to Toyota for coming up with a fancy new packaging with the same Vios experience.

Of course, taste is entirely subjective and in this particular case, it comes across as too saccharine, too contrived. The front clip looks over styled with its large maw and headlights that flick upward towards the end like fake eyelashes. As the more pumped up Prime variant, this one also comes with a full aero kit which adds some contours to the Vios’s predominately jellybean shape at the expense of making those 15-inch rims look too small. But you know the biggest crime here? Those so-called “unique” Prime front and rear bumpers. They’re not molded at all; instead, they’re a little more than slapped on top of the regular bumpers. Thus, they don’t align cleanly with the rest of the body. Toyota is known for restraint and it’s something they clearly should have practiced here.

For all of the Vios’s caricaturized sheet metal, inside it remains a pretty somber affair. Yet, what it lacks in character, it delivers in quality. The materials are typical Toyota—crisp and sturdy; while the build quality is pretty convincing for its class.

Ergonomically, it’s pretty much a facsimile of the third-generation model and for that, it’s comfortable and flawed in equal measure. The basic layout remains the same as before and for that, all the controls, stalks, and buttons are clearly marked and chunky enough to be operated by feel. Seating comfort is also solid as is the visibility. The Vios is one easy car to place on the road, even if it lacks any sort of sensors or cameras. Oddly enough, the oddities of the outgoing model are all present from the off-center placement of the gauges in relation to the steering wheel, and a steering column that feels too far in relation to the driver’s seat.

Keeping the same wheelbase and overall interior packaging as before, the Vios pretty much retains its interior space vis-à-vis its predecessor. Space, front or back is quite generous although the lack of storage space continues to be a problem for those who travel regularly with lots of stuff. There are two decent-sized cup holders in front of the shifter, but placing a smartphone or loose change there means there’s no other place to place your cup of vanilla latte. Oh, and if you’re looking for the power point, it’s not where it usually is. Here, it’s near the handbrake and this means plugging in a dashcam can prove to be a somewhat difficult.

Under the hood, the Vios 1.3 E Prime offers a respectable 98 horsepower and 123 Nm of torque. It’s a carryover engine from the previous model and for that, the performance remains more of a relaxed than spirited affair. The initial pickup is good up to around 3,000 rpm meaning it’s perfect for the city commute. Push down on the accelerator though and it’s quickly strained; the power delivery falling off the cliff sooner than expected. Still, there’s no doubting that this is quietest car in its class.

The accompanying CVT is also tuned for sensible driving too. Gently tapping the accelerator keeps the revs down and the fuel efficiency reasonably high: 8.87 km/L at 13 km/h. With no changeable driving modes though, pressing down on the gas confuses the transmission easily and always feels like it’s a step behind. It’ll let the engine spin for a split-second before dropping the revs as it gets into rhythm. Paddle shifters or a manual override would have helped, but the Vios 1.3 doesn’t come with any.

Like its powertrain, the Vios is made to be more safe and secure rather than sporty and spirited. Quietness aside, it’s extremely pliant and capable whatever the road surface. The steering is well-balanced, but slow-witted around the center making it easy to drive and stable on the highways. Additionally, the well-damped suspension helps it absorb the heaviest road cuts and cracks easily. On the twisty bits, it tends to understeer more, but remains obedient. Plus, compared to other sub-compacts, there’s an unmatched feeling of heft and solidity. And when all else fails, at least 7 airbags, ABS with EBD, and vehicle stability control all come as standard equipment.

Those looking for a fun, maybe slightly naughty car will call, “pass” on the 2018 Vios. However, for everyone else, it’s a solid but impassionate decision. The latest version tries hard to look snazzier, but in the end, it’s the same no-nonsense car underneath. This is like the girl next door who’s decided to try on a sexy dress. Yes, she’s showing off her killer legs (and perhaps a bit awkward doing so), but more than that, you know she’s always dependable company. Toyota says most buyers choose this car for its design, but realistically, it’s because it’s safe, efficient, easy-to-drive, and comfortable. Those aren’t exactly poster-worthy marketing blurbs, but it’s what made the Vios, the Vios. This new one is no different.

2018 Toyota Vios 1.3 E Prime
Ownership 2018 Toyota Vios 1.3 E Prime
Year Introduced 2018
Vehicle Classification Sub-compact Sedan
The Basics
Body Type 5-door sedan
Seating 5
Engine / Drive F/F
Under the Hood
Displacement (liters) 1.3
Aspiration Normally Aspirated
Fuel Delivery EFI
Layout / # of Cylinders I4
BHP @ rpm 98 @ 6,000
Nm @ rpm 123 @ 4,400
Fuel / Min. Octane Gasoline / 91~
Transmission CVT
Cruise Control No
Fuel Economy @ Ave. Speed 8.87 km/L @ 13 km/h
Dimensions and Weights
Length (mm) 4,425
Width (mm) 1,730
Height (mm) 1,475
Wheelbase (mm) 2,550
Curb Weight (kg) 1,085
Suspension and Tires
Front Suspension Independent, MacPherson Strut
Rear Suspension Torsion Beam
Front Brakes Vented Disc
Rear Brakes Drum
Tires Yokohama Decibel E70 185/60 R 15 H (f & r)
Wheels Alloy
Safety Features
Airbags 7
Anti-Lock Brakes (ABS) Yes, with EBD
Traction / Stability Control Yes
Parking Sensors None
Other Safety Features Hill Start Assist
Exterior Features
Headlights Halogen
Fog Lamps Yes, Front
Auto Lights No
Rain-sensing Wipers No
Interior Features
Steering Wheel Adjust Tilt
Steering Wheel Material Urethane
Seating Adjustment Manual
Seating Surface Fabric
Folding Rear Seat None
On-Board Computer Yes
Convenience Features
Power Steering Yes
Power Door Locks Yes
Power Windows Yes
Power Mirrors Yes
Climate Control Manual
Audio System Stereo
Smartphone Mirroring
# of Speakers 6
Steering Controls Yes


  1. Buyers are better off with the plain E variant.

  2. before this vios, were the factory tires also those low noise ones? Noticed this is vios is using new-ish low noise tires

  3. There is a manual override, yes? The + / - on the shifter?

  4. Goodness this is an ugly car. I prefer the previous gen Vios with a skirt kit and spoiler. This one looks like it's trying too hard.

  5. The previous models of the Vios look better. This one is a NO buy.

  6. "there’s an unmatched feeling of heft and solidity" hmmm Tukayo you mean this toyota feels more solid than the vw santana, peugeot 301 and ford fiesta sedan?

    1. Yes it does over the Peugeot 301 and Fiesta sedan. I'd say more or less the same with the Santana.

    2. Uly, what's your take on 1.3 E Prime M/T? On your point of view, which is better the A/T or M/T on 1.3's?

    3. Personally, if you can drive stick, I'd say the MT is better in getting more performance out of that 1.3. Having said that, the CVT is better suited to our traffic.

  7. this vios prime equipped front and rear parking sensors reverse camera
    g and e

  8. Torn b/n getting this or the Soluto. Any advice? Tks.


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