MAS2018 “Short Review Special” Part 2: Toyota (4 Cars)

MAS2018 is finally over and I finally have some time to continue with part 2. I’ll try to be as brief as I can with each car. This is a “Short Review Special” after all. The only car I was looking forward to drive from Toyota was the C-HR which already is on the road. Last year, people were drooling over pictures of the C-HR on the internet.

Toyota uses CVT for almost all the cars in its Malaysian line-up. Fortunately the CVT from Toyota is not as disappointing as the CVT from Proton. The CVT gives you a “7-Speed” feel which under normal driving conditions is decent. What I don’t like about Toyotas is the usage of the “Gated Automatic Shifter” which feels cheap even when placed in the 'premium' Toyota Camry. The only car to not use the “Gated Auto Shifter” from the 4 that I drove was the C-HR.

Personally I feel that “Gated Automatic Shifters” make a car feel less premium

Lets’s get to the 4 cars.

1.  Toyota Vios

The Vios feels cheaper than the Honda City. It has a gated shifter and the gauge cluster is very funny looking. It has this fancy pattern printed out on a piece of paper that serves as the background to your speedometer and tachometer. Not a good look.

What was it like to drive?

Nothing spectacular but a decent CVT transmission nonetheless. Interior isn’t great.

Why would a person buy one?

The other option you have is also a Japanese brand which is the Honda City. The cheapest Automatic Vios (Vios J) is selling at RM78,000 while the cheapest Honda City (City 1.5L S) is selling at RM76,000. It’s a little more expensive than the City, but in terms of how the car feels on the inside, I’d go for the Honda City. It feels more well done. Toyotas are known to be reliable but I feel Hondas are not that bad either. 

2. Toyota Sienta

The Sienta is a weird looking car in the minivan category. Similarly to the Vios, it doesn’t feel great on the inside. The sliding rear doors are automatic so in a way you can imagine you’re driving an Alphard or a Vellfire.

What was it like to drive?

Decent CVT. The car is tall so don’t take corners too fast. You’ve got two massive cupholders in the dash so that could a plus point if you’re a regular drive-thru customer. It feels standard just like how a Toyota should be. It’s a minivan. It’s not meant for joyful or spirited driving.

Why would a person buy one?

This is minivan territory so an alternative would be a Nissan Grand Livina. The Sienta will cost you RM97,000 (1.5L) while a Nissan Grand Livina would set you at RM91,100 (1.6L) or RM102,800 (1.8).

Benefit of the Sienta?

Sliding doors. It could be handy if you have an elderly. Again, this is minivan territory so think practicality.

Performance wise, the Sienta has a 7-Speed CVT while the Grand Livina has a conventional 4-speed Auto with a torque converter. A 7-speed would feel livelier.

Looks wise the Sienta is very funky looking. The Nissan is more dull and conservative. IMHO, I would prefer a more conventional car when it comes to a minivan (both looks wise and technology wise). I’m still under the impression that a CVT transmission wouldn’t take a beating so well.

3. Toyota C-HR

Alright. C-HR. To me this felt the most premium of the 4 Toyotas I tested. Price is at around RM150,000 which is an CR-V territory but with less space and more funky looks. If the Honda HR-V feels like a jacked-up Jazz or City, the C-HR does not feel like a jacked up Vios. It doesn’t use the gated shifter anymore. The interior is also more comfortable and from the back, it kind of does try to look like a Honda Civic.

What was it like to drive?

Comfortable and premium. Not like your standard Toyota. Engine is a 1.8 L naturally aspirated engine with a 7-speed CVT transmission. All the Toyotas seem to be running this transmission (except for the Hilux & Fortuner). Didn’t have a chance to drive it fast.


Why would a person buy one?

For trend’s sake, and maybe for its looks. It’s way more expensive than a HR-V and the sloping roofline makes it less practical than a CR-V. Are you gonna do some light off-roading with a C-HR? Nahhh you’re not. The only people who I feel would buy one are younger drivers with a good some of money. Or older drivers who are a little young at heart.

I think it’s a poor man’s BMW X6.

4. Toyota Camry Hybrid

I forgot to take a picture of the Hybrid Camry, hence this picture from Toyota’s official website.

The downside of the Camry is the interior which feels like it belongs in 2011 and the gated auto shifter. On the outside, the Camry looks alright as a saloon. I think it would look decent in black with black wheels to match.



What was it like to drive?

Good acceleration. Thanks to the hybrid motor that kicks in together with the engine when you floor it. Suspension is soft so you can feel the car bounce about when you accelerate. Do take note that the Camry uses a Foot Parking Brake (like a 2007 Honda CR-V) which makes it feel less of a luxury saloon.


Why would a person buy one?

It’s a super-duper cheap alternative against the VW Passat, Mercedes E Class, and BMW 5 series and it shows on the interior. It’s priced at around RM170,000. Want a big saloon and have more money left? Get a Toyota Camry.

It’s no E-Class but it doesn’t look that bad.


The 7-Speed CVT from Toyota did impress me and when paired to the hybrid motor in the Camry, it did become quite enjoyable. I still don’t like the usage of the gated auto shifter. Don’t expect much from Toyota when it comes to interior design. Toyota didn’t bring a Prius to the Autoshow. What I’ve heard is that Toyota sales hasn’t been so good as of late. It’s probably time to focus on the models that really sell and maybe put more effort to the interior.


For Part 1 on Volkswagen click here.

For Part 3 on Honda click here.

For Part 4 on BMW click here.

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