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1 Year Toyota Vios Ownership Experience

What is Toyota Vios?  It's Toyota's small sedan.  It is called Toyota Yaris Sedan in Australia.

Synopsis: this car is small, not very fast, but very swift and never feel power outage on any road.

Main features and explanation:

ABS + EBD + BA (this combination is also called AB-i, Active Braking with intelligence)

enables the driver to do more extreme manoeuvres, harder braking with less stopping distance without worrying that the car will skid out of control.

VVT-i (Variable Valve Timing with intelligence)when driven carefully, enables the driver to drive more on more mileage, however when the driver floors the throttle, the car will accelerate faster.  Read here on how to drive VVT-i enabled car.
ETCS-i (Electronic Throttle Control System with intelligence)This feature will safe the car from jumping around when driven at slow speed and passing the speed hump (Polisi Tidur), therefore helping to save fuel.
ECT (Electronic Controlled Transmission)This feature will lock the transmission on the 3rd gear when hill climbing or going down the hill. 
Smart Key Entry, engine start button and remote boot openingA clever feature first introduced with Toyota Prius, now almost standard across all Toyota sedans.  This feature will remove the need of the key and remote to open doors, locking and cranking the engine. 
Dual AirbagsHope that you'll never need to use them!
2 parkng sensors on the rear bumperEases your parking process

My Car

Now, per 6th August 2009 had around 19.800 km, and will receive oil change on 20.000 km.

My car is standard without any addition, but seat cover to make it more comfortable.


The good 1NZ-FE 1.5L power plant. 

Although this engine only delivers 110 HP and 145 Nm torque, which is not a big deal.  VVT-i make the torque curve flat, as if it is a 6 cylinder machine.   With the power available across wide range of RPM, this engine made driving this car a real fun!  This car have power on demand and there is no lack of power, even though the power is small, the power is there, all within your control and prediction.  

This is exactly what make this car really fun and save!

Engine roars: the exhaust note is nice and pretty heavy, however the engine's couldn't produce any roars.  It is 1.5L power plant anyway.  

Exhaust smell: NONE!  Tested by keeping the car on a closed garage for 1 minute, then smell the exhaust fumes.  Please don't do this at home! 

Fuel economy

This car is very economical consumes 1:16 km/L or 6.25 L per 100 km on combined cycle, 1:14 km/L or 7.1 L per 100 km on city cycle and  1:20+ km/L or less than 5 L per 100 km on highway. 

This figure is get by using RON 91 fuel and Nissan 10w-30 oil.  On Shell Helix Plus, it is a little worse.

However, this car requires VVT-i driving technique to make most of its fuel economy.  

Maximum speed

Max nominal speed is the maximum achievable speed on a quiet highway with reasonable time to achieve.  Tested 150 km/h, pretty fast for a small car.  I can accelerate up to 150 km/h, when turning, brake to 130, accelerate again to 150.  It appears this car can go even faster on more straights  

Max street speed is the maximum save cruising speed sustained for 60 seconds or more on a quiet road.  Tested 90 km/h on average Indonesian road, tested on Magelang to Semarang and Magelang to Jogja.  

Max highway speed is the maximum save cruising speed on a quiet highway, which mean sustaining the speed for 60 seconds or more.  Tested 130 km/h on average Indonesian highway, tested on Cipularang Tollway  

Optimal speed is tested at 60-90 km/h will yield 1:18 L/km, faster than 100 km/h will increase the fuel consumption  

Top speed: untested, but calculated and believed to be 200 km/h.  Pretty fast for a small car!  Please let me know if you have tried this, but I didn't recommend anyone sane to run this fast.


Tested - however not accurate - 0-100 around 11 seconds in full auto mode.  Manually shifting from 1-2-D3-D will not only make your car runs slower, it is also damage the transmission system.  Occasional manual shifting is alright, but not too often and not at overly high rpm.  


Automatic transmission is a genius, therefore it has no need of paddle shift or manual override.  It chooses the right gear based on climbing degree and adjust the gear based on your throttle position. 

Adjusting gears can be done with your feet's position and how hard you push the throttle, effectively making your feet works as the paddle shift.  

Moreover, the automatic transmission is smart enough to do engine braking on heavy braking, as if reverse thrusters on aircraft.  You can see this happens when you see your rev meter goes up when heavy braking.

Hill climbing performance

Is excellent!  The car didn't go fast, however it's stiff suspension, smart transmission made climbing a windy twisty hill very good experience as I can maintain speed and the sensation of speed.

Power is widely distributed and available across 1500-5000 rpm, this make the car very controllable and save for hill climbing.  

On downhill, this car is also very controllable, thanks to engine braking from the smart transmission.  


Providing you know how to race a car, this car have a good suspension and excellent handling.  Well, this car is basically a 4 door little sport car and in fact, it is used by Toyota Team Indonesia and winning in some racing competition. 

The downside is it's suspension is a bit too stiff for elderly.

This car also feels to stick to the road when driven at high speed, which is unlike Nissan Grand Livina which tends to float.

Body control

Vios has a lightweight body - about 1050 Kg - this made the suspension system works really well and maintains the body in control.

Moreover it has good cross wind fighting ability, which means this car will stick to the road when some cross wind happens.

Driving test

Thanks to large driver and passenger window, this made sight seeing very easy.  Moreover it's mirror

Brake testing

ABS+EBD+BA works very fine when heavy braking on straight road.  The braking distance is very short.

This car had very good brakes and coupled with ABS+EBD, enabling car to be controlled even under heavy braking.  The only problem is the steer becomes heavy to turn and vibrates strongly.  In this case, do not panic and just keep braking and steer the car into safety.

FYI, for once some motorbike crosses my way when cruising at high speed, therefore I had to make emergency braking and some evasive manoeuvres which this car performed flawlessly. 

Just don't be overly confident, since safety driving practice is the one that will help you survive on road.


This car features big legroom on back and front, I'm 180 cm tall, and my brother is 176 cm.  He has no problem sitting behind me.  The real problem lies with the rear seat, which is narrow and small, therefore it can't really support someone as big as me.  Rear ceiling height is also too short for me. 

Although not very fluffy, I love Vios's thin seat.  It is very thin and supportive.  Making an 8 hours journey with this car is not tiring.  Therefore this car has visited more cities in 1 year compared to my 2003 Honda City in 6 years.  It's front seating is much more comfortable and didn't make me tired, however it's rear seat is cramped.  

Interior is not a very expensive material.  No leather, just heavy and slippery fabrics.  However the steering wheel is nicely covered in Oscar, and knitted nicely.  

There are so many pockets, glass holder, bottle holder and storage around the interior, even I lost count. 

This car also have grocery bag holder holder behind passenger chair  


Audio quality is just so-so, due to noisy interior, although it has SRS and ASL to improve audio quality, they didn't contribute much to the whole audio listening experience.  

Vios's standard head unit already features MP3 and WMA playing capability.  Moreover, its audio control is also available on steering wheel.

Air conditioning

Air conditioning is good and quiet.  Cooling this car after sunned under hot tropical sun can be done within minutes.  Although without hot and cold air conditioning, Vios's air conditioning can be set to low, and the air becomes warmer and not freezing.  Therefore reducing me from turning the air conditioner on and off.

Vios's air conditioner noise at fan setting 2, is the same as Nissan Grand Livina's air conditioner at fan setting 1.


The driving light is HID which is pretty bright, moreover it was equipped with auto levelling which saves me from changing it's illumination direction, therefore I got less high beams from other cars.

Boot space

Is not very big.  I have never measure this, so I'll have to trust the manufacturer specification.  However it is comparably smaller to previous and current Honda City.  

Parking test

This car is small, therefore very parkable, even on small parking lot.  However its rear windscreen is small, therefore making reversing less visible.  Thanks to the parking sensor which helps me reverse.

In addition, Vios's left and right mirrors are big and very comfortable to see.

Recommended oil

  1. Nissan's 10w-30 will gave better fuel economy however it is very thin and made the car feels wild and jumpy
  2. Shell Helix HX7 10w-40 will not gave fuel economy as good as Nissan's 10w-30 however the car feels milder and not as jumpy.

Recommended fuel

Any RON 91 such as Pertamina Pertamax or Shell Super will do, just remember to put injector cleaner every 10000 km altogether with servicing and tyre rotation.


Well, although I had committed to write this review as complete as possible, I love my car and myself more than my commitment.  I'm really sorry I can't test it for you. 

PS: if any of you had tried Vios's airbag, please let me know!  


Good clean engine

Smart transmission

Fuel economical

Very fun to drive


No hot and cold air conditioning.  I prefer somewhat warm air of 25o C - 26o C.  Dawn in Magelang will bring the temperature to reach 22o C, which means I need heating. 

Jumpy characteristic, she loves to jump with a light touch on her throttle.

Back seat only good for kids, not for adult, especially a big one like me.

Small boot space

Noisy interior and so-so audio quality

Problems encountered

I've heard some noise from passenger airbag compartment.  Some locks are loose apparently, however Toyota fixes this for free, so no need to worry.

On an unlikely situation, Vios's smart entry system hung and freezes, therefore rendering engine start button, lock disengaging door handle, and door locking button disabled.  Don't panic if you met this situation, just put the key over the engine start button for 1 minute or more.  This will reset car's computer, then assuming a fresh start. 

Therefore, the car will operate as normally.

Front wind screen is made of glass with inconsistent thickness.  Distortion is everywhere with on this glass.  Well, probably that's because of this car is on 2nd quality.


If you drive yourself, have no or small kid and needs a small sedan and love to drive, then get this car. 

This car loves to speed, and can follow you anywhere on road.  It is likely that you'll find yourself as the limit of this car's performance.  It is a small car with big fun! 

However, if you prefer to stay on the back seat, get a Camry or Toyota Corolla Altis instead.