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September 17, 2019

Review: 2019 Toyota Vios 1.5 G Prime

A pack of lemmings, populists, brand loyalists—say what you want about people who gravitate towards the Toyota Vios, but the fact of the matter is: it is the country’s best-selling vehicle. The Vios, and by extension, Toyota has built a solid reputation centered around quality, durability, and reliability—adjectives that has made the default choice for the majority of the population. The question is, can it hold on to that crown?

The Vios’s conservative, but steady evolution has led to this: the fourth-generation model. Despite the label, it carries over the same platform and even hardpoints as the previous one, and in turn, traces its origins to something circa 2007. The fancier wrapper attempts to spruce it up, and bringing some of Toyota’s new-generation styling elements is welcome, but the end result is just too contrived; too caricature for the typically conservative folks who buy Vioses. The overstyled front-end, taken in relation to the rest of the body, weighs it down. The Prime body kit—a clear tack-on that doesn’t sit flush with the rest of the body work—does visually make it more appealing, but only just.

Limited by the carryover platform and hardpoints, the Vios’s interior attempts to add some jazz over an existing frame. However, the end result is still a pretty somber affair. There are some interesting curves added to portions of the dash, but they don’t do much except to visually break the vast expanse of hard, black plastic. There’s a severe lack of storage space, especially considering the amount of stuff a typical car owner brings with him nowadays. Aside from the cup holders, small utility tray beside the hand brake, and the rather small lidded center console, there’s pretty much no storage available. The iPhone will have to share its space with a cup of iced latte, and the iPod, will need to be plugged with a one-meter cord. The glove box is so small, it can’t even fit the owner’s manual without scrounging it up. Oh, and planning to plug a dash cam? The powerpoint is inconveniently placed behind the hand brake.

Equally odd are the Vios’s ergonomics. Since it’s pretty much the third-generation model, visibility remains its strong point. Despite having no corner sensors or camera of any kind, it’s still a very easy car to place on the road. The seats are also largely comfortable, except for very long stints behind the wheel (you’ll start to wish for better upper back support by then). The controls and their placement allow for easy tactile operation, but some oddities remain—not only are the gauges slightly off center in relation to the tiller, but the steering column itself is too far in relation to the driver’s seat.

Running on a carryover 1.5-liter 2NR-FE engine, the Vios makes solid 106 horsepower and 140 Nm of torque. Mated to a CVT, suffice to say, the performance is more for relaxed, everyday driving than spirited weekend hill climbs. The initial pickup is good and the Dual VVT-i motor scoots itself up to around 80 km/h with no hesitation. Of course, as the speeds climb, the drivetrain starts to get vocal. Hitting the legal speed limit is easy enough, but anything beyond that, say above 120 km/h, and progress almost grinds to a halt. Nonetheless, it is the quietest car in its class, quelling the outside world with little difficulty.

Unlike the 1.3-liter models, the Vios 1.5 comes with changeable driving modes. Regardless of the setting—Eco, Normal, or Sport—the sensation largely remains the same with the only discernable difference being the throttle’s sensitivity. It’s akin to pushing down on the accelerator with a foam pad underneath—Normal would have a soft one; Eco, a hard one; while Sport removes the foam altogether. Left to its own devices, the CVT gets confused whenever a sudden burst of acceleration is required, but driven sensibly through, it’s smooth and unobtrusive. The flappy paddles on the CVT are also surprisingly response, moving through pre-determined ratios quickly. Fuel economy is 9.0 km/L, matching its 1.3-liter sibling (surprisingly) at the same sort of speeds.

Like its powertrain, the Vios trades agility for a heightened sense of comfort. Despite seeing it attack the circuit in its own one-make race, the steering comes across as slow-witted around the center. It’s weighty, great for long highway drives, but not so when darting through traffic is required. The suspension it’s attached to is pliant, soft, and well-damped allowing it to absorb the heaviest road cuts and cracks. There’s a degree of body roll during cornering, but it’s well-controlled. Its kryptonite is quick left-right-left transitions. Faced with this, it’ll understeer heavily. A great plus is its feeling of heft and solidity—this particular test drive unit has clocked in close to 9,000 kilometers—or as a running joke in motoring media circles, twice the mileage (and punishment) a regular driver would put on it, and there’s not a single rattle whatsoever.

As comfortable in its role as the country’s default car of choice, the Vios’s biggest challenger comes from a very unlikely source: its bigger brother, the recently-launched Corolla Altis. Priced just P 17,000 above this Vios 1.5 G Prime, is the entry-level automatic: the Corolla Altis 1.6 G. There are trade-offs for sure in terms of luxury and convenient features, but overall, the Corolla Altis is the better value car—it’s bigger, promises to be more solid (it’s underpinned by the TNGA platform, after all), and comes with a larger. Plus, it adheres to the very same Toyota qualities in an even snazzier, sexier package.

And there’s the rub. With its wide price range and more variants, the Vios is and will still appeal to a much larger audience. However, it’s hard to ascertain where the Vios 1.5 G Prime is going for. On one hand, it is the top dog of Toyota’s sub-compact sedan, and for that, it is loaded with all sorts of luxury and comfort features. On the other though, it is getting a wee too much for a segment that should put emphasis on sticker price and value. Typically, a buyer going for a top-trim small car is swayed by the razzle-and-dazzle be it styling, tech, or whatever; but by playing conservative, the Vios doesn’t tug on those qualities. It misses the styling-savvy, tech-hungry Filipino buyer by quite some ways.

2019 Toyota Vios 1.5 G Prime
Ownership 2019 Toyota Vios 1.5 G Prime
Year Introduced 2018
Vehicle Classification Sub-compact Car
Warranty 3 years / 100,000 kilometers
The Basics
Body Type 4-door sedan
Seating 5
Engine / Drive F/F
Under the Hood
Displacement (liters) 1.5
Aspiration Normally Aspirated
Fuel Delivery EFI
Layout / # of Cylinders I4
BHP @ rpm 106 @ 6,000
Nm @ rpm 140 @ 4,200
Fuel / Min. Octane Gasoline / 91~
Transmission CVT
Cruise Control No
Fuel Economy @ Ave. Speed 9.00 km/L @ 15 km/h
Dimensions and Weights
Length (mm) 4,425
Width (mm) 1,730
Height (mm) 1,475
Wheelbase (mm) 2,550
Curb Weight (kg) 1,100
Suspension and Tires
Front Suspension Independent, MacPherson Strut
Rear Suspension Torsion Beam Axle
Front Brakes Vented Disc
Rear Brakes Disc
Tires Bridgestone Turanza ER33 195/50 R 16 V (f & r)
Wheels Alloy
Safety Features
Airbags 7
Anti-Lock Brakes (ABS) Yes, with EBD
Traction / Stability Control Yes
Parking Sensors No
Front Seatbelts 3-pt ELR with pre-tensioner x 2
Rear Seatbelts 3-pt ELR x 3
ISOFIX Child Seat Anchor Yes
Other Safety Features Hill Hold Assist
Exterior Features
Headlights Halogen
Fog Lamps Yes, Front
Auto Lights Yes
Rain-sensing Wipers No
Interior Features
Steering Wheel Adjust Tilt
Steering Wheel Material Leather
Seating Adjustment (driver) Manual, 6-way
Seating Adjustment (front passenger) Manual, 4-way
Seating Surface Fabric
Folding Rear Seat No
On-Board Computer Yes
Convenience Features
Power Steering Yes
Power Door Locks Yes
Power Windows Yes
Power Mirrors Yes
Proximity Key Yes
Climate Control Yes
Audio System Stereo
Smartphone Mirroring
# of Speakers 6
Steering Controls Yes


  1. I think the Vios is a wise purchase only up to the E variant. Buyers who look for the fancier trims should just look at similarly priced competitors or pony up to the Corolla.

    1. I agree with you. Same with the City or Mazda2 for me.

  2. TOTL variant just doesn't work for me. For a bit more, you can get a much roomier subcompact sedan, or get a bit on the taller side with the CUV's. at 1.1M range, Civic, Corolla and Mazda 3 base variant are good options.

  3. just get a repossed 2019 G model it will come at a significantly cheaper price


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