Review: Toyota Vios - This over the Honda City?

Shaun/Feb 10, 2020 10:00 AM

Toyota Vios cover

(2019 Toyota Vios prices and specs | Gallery)

To begin with, a full disclosure – my daily is a 2014 (third generation pre-facelift) Toyota Vios and some bias may be involved in this review, but not in the way that you think, it’s actually against the Vios.

Personally, the Toyota Vios has never been appealing because to me, it is merely a means to avoid our national brands. And when my family decided to get one back in 2014, needless to say I wasn’t particularly thrilled by the news.

2014 (third generation) Toyota Vios

But personal preferences aside, the reasoning behind getting a Toyota Vios was and still is perfectly understandable. It’s comfortable, relatively cheap to maintain and most importantly, reliable. There’s also resale value but its importance could spark a whole debate.

The Vios’ merits are difficult to argue against, but the biggest issue of the pre-facelift Vios is the equipment level. There were only 2 airbags, no stability or traction control, not even in the range-topping variant. It’s clear why the Honda City overtook the Vios as the B-segment sedan leader.

Toyota Vios rear three quarter

Thankfully, Toyota is well aware of it and introduced the 2019 Toyota Vios. Not an all-new model, but a heavily revised version of the third generation Vios. This major facelift saw a boost in equipment level; airbag count is now at 7 with traction and stability control standard across the range, plus blind spot detection with rear-cross traffic alert on selected variants.

Toyota Vios overview

Toyota Vios highlights

The Toyota Vios went from one of the most scarcely equipped cars in its segment to, presently, the most well-equipped one. Credits where it’s due, good on you Toyota.

Exterior

Toyota Vios exterior dimensions

Looks are of course subjective, and some bias is probably at play here but from the front, I prefer the pre-facelift model. The current one looks rather fussy with too much going on.

Toyota Vios side view

I do like the skirts on the bumpers and sides however, they make the car look like it’s sitting lower. Depending on the colour option, the red highlights may or may not tickle your fancy. The ducktail spoiler is a nice touch too. 

It looks well-proportioned from the sides and although the wheels appear a little small, they are actually 16-inch wrapped with 195/50 section tyres, one size up from before.

Toyota Vios rear view

Over to the rear, I think Toyota has nailed it with this one. It now seems wider thanks to broader tail lamps that stretch to the sides. And yes, from the rear, I prefer this over the previous model.

Now to more objective matters, paint and built quality. Paint thickness averaged in the 90s of micrometers while panel gaps deviated by no more than 0.5 millimeter from either side.

Interior

Toyota Vios interior

The interior gets a makeover in this facelift. Its basic layout is largely similar, the infotainment system sits on top of the air-conditioning vents, silver bits here and there, faux stitching, and even the driving position feels similar.

Which brings me on to one of the very few gripes I have with this car – it still lacks telescopic adjustment on the steering wheel. For years I have been moaning about how I couldn’t find an ideal driving position in the previous model because the steering wheel is unable to reach closer to me.

It’s the same with this one, I would either have to set the backrest to a very upright position or move the seat closer to the wheel, or both. Though individuals with a smaller build or those who are used to driving with their arms stretched might not face this issue.

Toyota Vios interior

Seeing how this is not a complete model change, another issue carried over is space at the rear. Kneeroom is fairly decent for a car of this size but headroom is quite limited. Sitting up straight, my head touches the headliner and I am 177 cm tall. Six footers will have to slouch in the rear bench. The Honda City offers just a tad more headroom.

Toyota Vios rear space

And that’s about all the negatives I have for this car. Storage spaces have slightly improved; the space north of the gear lever is better utilized now, with 2 cupholders but they did remove the rather clever ones that pop out from the dashboard in the previous model. There’s also a drawer on the driver’s side beneath the switches to store your cards and whatnot.

Toyota Vios instrument cluster

The new Optitron instrument cluster looks great with clear and easy to read fonts, and a 4.2-inch multi-info display that puts on a nice startup animation each time. Air-conditioning is now automatic with digital display. Still no rear air vents but it should be said that the air-conditioning, set at 24 degrees, is able to sufficiently cool the cabin on a hot day. And this isn’t the salesman in me speaking, really.

Toyota Vios air-conditioning

Toyota Vios boot space

Boot space is at 506 litres. Large, but not quite as large as City's 536 litres.

Material quality is par for the money but build quality is rather good. The interior is well put together without any inconsistent gaps or rattling and squeaking noises.

Moving on to the infotainment system, no Apple CarPlay/Android Auto compatibility here, only smartphone mirroring. But what stood out here is the audio from the six-speaker set-up. 

Toyota Vios interior collage

The sound is rich with meaty low-end and mids with decent imaging from the repositioned tweeters. Highs or treble is a little reserved when all sound effects are disabled and the equalizer flattened, but slight tweaks on the equalizer will easily add sparkle. And that’s all it needs to get a well-balanced sound, just avoid those artificial sound effects.

Driving experience

The 2019 Vios feels less light-footed than before or even the Honda City for that matter. It doesn’t leap off the line as eagerly, which lends itself to a more mature behaviour.

Toyota Vios interior

As much as I would like to bad-mouth the CVT, it actually suits the car’s behaviour. Power delivery is linear with broad spread of torque. Couple that with the retuned suspension and improved sound insulation, the CVT enhances the smooth riding nature.

Compared to the my own daily, the 2014 pre-facelift model, throttle response is now keener with less delay in normal mode. Brakes are better calibrated, now more progressive and easier to modulate without sacrificing the strong bite and confidence inspiring stopping power.

Toyota Vios performance

(Left) 0-100 km/h is completed in 12.7s, 0-100-0 km/h in 16.7s
(Right) Braking distance from 100-0 km/h is 45m

The steering still doesn’t provide much feedback, which is expected of all new cars but it feels stiffer and the weight is spot on. There is also slightly less vagueness on center, making it less of a guesswork to tell which way the wheels are pointing on the highways.

And what a highway cruiser this is. On top of the well-insulated cabin, the CVT allows the engine to relax at just 1,900 rpm at 110 km/h. Although it should be noted that even a slight incline would send the revs climbing as the engine lacks the torque at lower rpm to sustain higher speeds.

Toyota Vios

Initially, the soft suspension wouldn’t boost confidence in the corners. But have faith in it, trust that it will go whichever direction you point it to and stay on track. It is also very forgiving in which it takes a lot to unsettle the car. So its handling is best described as competent and safe.

However, there is only one issue disrupting the pleasant driving experience – the beeping sound from the blind spot monitor when the indicator is engaged. It cannot be disabled and may even startle drivers unfamiliar with the car. Funnily, the Yaris doesn’t suffer from this issue.

Toyota Vios BSM

Ride comfort

This is where the 2019 Vios outshines all its rivals. As mentioned previously, the suspension is retuned for a softer and suppler ride along with a more rigid body.

And boy does it work wonders on the ride quality. Even on larger 16-inch wheels, it is more composed going over rough patches and rarely gets crashy. At higher speeds, the soft suspension may feel a little floaty to some, as it would oscillate once or twice after bumps or undulations, but the comfort it provides cannot be disputed.

Toyota Vios front seats

The seats look and feel the same as before, which in this case is not a problem because it’s comfortable and supportive. The side bolsters hug you in place and the seat sculpture doesn’t give backaches on long journeys, to me at least.

Sound insulation is class-leading, the previous model wasn’t exactly noisy but there is always room for improvement. Engine noise is far better suppressed and only gets vocal when pushed hard, and even then, it’s quieter than before. Tyre noise is also less intrusive which has strangely amplified the wind noise. At 110 km/h, slight ruffling noises can be heard from the side windows whereas in the previous model, it would be disguised by the engine and tyre noise.

Toyota Vios insulation

Sound dampening material (white stuff) on the wheel arches

The sound level meter recorded an average of 69 dB at 110 km/h. Although the traffic conditions were quite busy and road surface was on the coarser side.

Fuel consumption

Toyota Vios fuel consumption

Distance travelled is 44.9 km and amount refuelled is 3.047 litres

Based on the calculation between distance travelled and amount of fuel filled up, the Vios returned 6.8 litre/100 km. However, the trip computer indicated an average of 16.9 km/litre which is about 5.9 litre/100 km. Find out how it compares to the pre-facelift model here.

Conclusion

The 2019 Toyota Vios does everything its predecessors were known for and does it even better. It’s exceptionally comfortable, returns great fuel economy, and is finally well-equipped.

Toyota Vios

Compared to the Honda City, the Vios comes up short on interior space, telescopic adjustment on the steering wheel and full LED headlamps on the range-topping V variant. But the Vios is better equipped in terms of safety features, has a quieter cabin and rides better, never mind the all-round disc brakes.

If you ask me, and as much as I’ve never been a fan, the Vios wins this round. It’s an improvement over the pre-facelift model from just about every aspect, which makes me like mine even lesser now.

Toyota Vios tail lamp

Would I trade my current daily for the new Vios? In all honesty, no. But only because I am looking forward to what comes next. Perhaps a TGNA based Vios like the globally revealed Yaris. Can’t wait.

Toyota Vios alternatives

Comments