Not that economical
Ignition switch relay failure on very cold weather, causing steering and airbag light to go off, and complete steering failure (steering would not turn no matter how hard I pulled). Not a safe situation when driving down the road, fortunately this occurred only right after the engine started up, so the car wasn't moving at that time.
Bought this car for two reasons : mileage and reliability. While reliability is on the low side, mileage is disappointing. Good highway mileage on long trips (average 40 US mpg) yet city driving with some highway gets consistently 27 mpg (US), with gear shifting between 2000 and 3000 rpm. At this point the engine should have been broken in. Surprisingly, wife's automatic Echo (same engine) gets the same mileage in the same driving conditions. Her car has 15000 miles on the clock. No doubt, this car is economical on highway, but the engine it's not optimized (in terms of fuel economy) for stop and go driving.
Second weakness of this car is it's manual transmission. Unless you swear only by stick shifting, go with the automatic. The car is much easier and dare I say funny to drive with the automatic transmission. When saying this I compare my 5 speed Yaris with wife's automatic Echo. Clutch and shifting action are difficult on this car. It is also very hard to use the clutch when trying to get off the snow, despite using winter tires.
Another point to mention for all those young drivers looking for some spirited driving. Don't get mislead by the car's (especially hatchback's) appearance. It has nothing to do with the way this car drives. Especially because of the clutch/shifting action, soft rear suspension and short wheelbase (the car has a poor "turning" stability). Not talking here about sporty driving, just about that "funny" driving feel some other cars use to have.
In response to other reviews, I found the car to be surprisingly stable and to have a "solid" feel on the highway. The steering feels somehow weird in crosswinds, yet the car is very stable and keeps going in a straight line. The Echo is everything, but stable in the same conditions. It is also very easy to park, not only because of it's length, but because it is able to turn in very tight spaces. BTW, the 2 doors hatchback has a very important blind spot on the driver's side.
All in all, a reasonable car with poor fuel economy for it's size. One year ago I believed that Honda and Toyota were the leaders in economical engines. I'm asking myself today if Toyota still deserves the title?
Would you buy another car from this manufacturer? No
Review Date: 9th November, 2007