Jamaica Gleaner
Published: Sunday | February 1, 2009
Home : Auto
2009 Daihatsu Terios ... has grown up
Mario James, Gleaner Writer

View from the front. photos by Mario James

DAIHATSU'S 1500-cc four-wheel runabout has grown up - well, sort of. The Toyota-owned Japanese company has decided that this market needs seven seats, and has upped the ante on the cute little 4x4. However, the model tested has lost the four-wheel drive capability that we so adored last year, much to our chagrin.

Last year's four-door was a firm riding, gas- sipping, value-filled compact SUV that cost less than $2.3 million and had the trail performance of a modded Wrangler CJ. It skipped across sand and had six inches of articulation. It was wonderful, and enough units were sold for the Japanese to try something new. So what did they do? They added four inches to the body and installed a third row of seats. Now, Terios the first was by no means a fire-breathing monster; it sounded very busy on the highway because it needed high gearing to overcome the inertia of the four-wheel drive. To keep down the price, Toyota Jamaica speculated that the same 1500 cc be retained for its new people-mover. But, it took out the all-wheel drive option for its seven-seater.

nifty roof

This makes sense; the platform the engine has to carry is now heavier. All-wheel drive would mandate a bigger engine to maintain the status quo at highway speeds. And the new Terios comes with a nifty roof mount air re-circulator that allows the rear occupants to feel breeze more quickly when the air conditioner is switched on. They have thought it through, really, they have. The dash is almost upright, which makes the front seem positively airy, controls are all within reach and the button hieroglyphs can be understood. Terios' stereo, a single CD unit, functions adequately and sounds OK.

Without the four-wheel drive, the larger Terios is downright sprightly. One could be deceived, as I was, that the engine had grown a few ccs as it responds so much better! Zero to 100 kmh comes up in 10.8 seconds and the buzziness at highway speeds is now a non-issue. One no longer has to say a dozen Hail Marys while overtaking yon lumbering 18-wheeler! The steering is still a little numb, but hey, she is going to become someone's tote 'em all, and is not really for corner carving. The Terios ride too has become more sophisticated, with the choppiness of the last model firmly consigned to the past. Body roll has been held to an absolute minimum, even though she stands rather tall.

munchkins only

Now, as a package this seven-seater comes together. Except for one thing ... the third row is meant for munchkins only. Entry to the third row is easy, if a bit undignified ... larger folk have to bend almost double to get in there ... but the second row folds and tumbles and there is enough space there for the entry. But there is no leg room once the second row returns to the upright position, unless you sit as a Coronation Market vendor and spread your legs. However, the back seats do fold flat, and that opens up huge cargo space.

The value that Terios represented has not been diminished with this model. The four-door model is still available, and its interior is almost as versatile as the seven-seater's. The new version has not got four-wheel drive, but the extra space can be utilised. With its better ride, bigger trunk and unburdened power plant, there is still value in the new package, but less utility.

With proper gearing, mileage should be spectacular (Toyota does not advertise mileage figures locally and Automotives did not have the vehicle long enough to make an estimate). The five-seater is more raw, but fun and purposeful. New Terios is a soccer mom's dream - cheap, frugal and spacey, with the build quality of a Toyota. But is that niche big enough to make Daihatsu's Terios a success story?

Daihatsu 1500cc engine feels more at home in this package.

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