LAS VEGAS -- Toyota Division will replace a rare U.S. dud, the Echo car, with the Yaris in early 2006.
Unlike the lumpy Echo, the Yaris is stylish. It's a good bet to add momentum to the relentless Toyota sales machine in the United States.
The company unveiled the three-door subcompact at the Specialty Equipment Market Association show here last week. The sedan will be shown at the Los Angeles auto show in January.
The Yaris will have different sheet metal and wheelbases for the hatchback and sedan. The hatchback will have a 96.9-inch wheelbase; the sedan will be 100.4 inches.
Both are a big jump from the 93.4-inch wheelbase of the Echo, although the car's overall length will remain about the same by pushing the wheels to the corners.
The Yaris will be powered by a 1.5-liter four-cylinder engine, generating 106 hp and 103 pounds-feet of torque.
While Hyundai and Kia are pushing safety as standard with their subcompacts, Toyota is pushing comfort and convenience. Standard features will include air conditioning, tilt steering wheel, and body-color mirrors and door handles. But side airbags are optional.
Pricing is expected to be under $13,000.
U.S. sales for the hatchback and sedan in 2006 are expected to be about 50,000 units, rising to 70,000 units in 2007. A five-door version will be sold in Canada as well.
Through 10 months of this year, Toyota sold 1,527 Echos, down 55.4 percent from the year-ago period. The Echo's base price is $10,995, including a $540 shipping fee.
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