2021 Toyota Vios XLE CVT

The Toyota Vios is arguably one of the more popular vehicles that the Japanese brand sells in the local market today. You can see it almost anywhere being used both as transport service, as private vehicles, and as a race car, although the latter is heavily modified. The point is the Vios is so common and so versatile that there is a variant for almost everybody. An entry-level model for those who want a fleet vehicle, a balanced model for those on a budget, and all the bells and whistles for those who want a little bit more creature comforts for their daily driver. Enter the Toyota Vios 1.3 XLE CVT the middle variant of the model range that strikes a great balance between features and fuel economy. With that said here is our take on the middle child of the Vios range.

3.8 / 5
2021 Toyota Vios 1.3 XLE CVT Review
Engine Output (HP), Acceleration, Transmission, Handling
Exterior & Interior Design, Quality, Fit and Finish, Ergonomics
Ride Comfort
Cabin Comfort, Suspension, NVH Insulation
Safety and Technology
Convenience Technologies, Active and Passive Safety Features
Value for Money
Amount of the vehicle you get for the price, Fuel Efficiency
What You Will Like
  • The 1.3 and CVT pair well to give you good fuel economy
  • Good ride comfort for its price point
  • A good balance of features for its price
What You Won't Like
  • CVT struggles to get the car moving on inclines
  • No Apple CarPlay or Android Auto
  • Could use better lighting elements
How We Do Our Reviews

When it comes to its looks, as an update to the latest iteration of the Vios, the XLE carries with it the same familiar shape and design. As part of its refresh, the changes that were done included an update to the front bumper along with new bezels for the foglights and a new lower grille. The new grille design now starts off thinner and gradually widens up as it gets to the bottom of the bumper. This is opposed to the wider design of the previous model that got thinner as it approached the lower bumper. With the new look, it does give the sedan a little bit of a sportier appeal from certain angles. 

Another addition to the vehicle is its new LED fog lights, while it can clash with the halogen bulbs found in the headlights, it’s still a welcome addition to the vehicle as it helps light up the road well when visibility is low.

Overall the Vios XLE delivers a balanced set of exterior features given its affordable and attainable price point. It still comes with alloy wheels like the previous generation and is on par with the rest of the competition when it comes to its lighting elements.

Entering the Toyota Vios 1.3 XLE, you are greeted by its black interior with a gray headliner. While the look remains the same as the previous model, we couldn’t help but notice the askew gauge cluster. A minor nitpick but once you get used to it, it becomes unnoticeable when it comes to actual driving. Aside from this, the Vios comes with durable plastics on the inside along with a couple of piano black materials near the infotainment and gear selector.

As the middle variant,  it only comes with durable yet still comfortable fabric seats. Toyota did add blue accent stitching to the seats which is a nice touch to help spruce up the cabin. Aside from that the XLE also comes with faux-stitching on the dashboard which marginally helps elevate the aesthetics of the interior.

Just like in the previous model trunk space is still generous, but expandability is not present due to the rear seats not being able to fold forwards.

2021 Toyota Vios city background

Comfort remains a strong trait with the Vios even in its middle trim level. The seats are a balance between soft and firm, but cushion you well when it comes to bumps. This is further aided by the sedan’s generally soft suspension that delivers a good ride as it reasonably absorbs bumps and road imperfections without it reaching the cabin. Speaking of the cabin, it is well insulated from outside noise just like its older model, the 1.3-liter motor hums quietly along the highway thanks to the CVT and only light tire noise makes its way inside the vehicle.

The Toyota Vios XLE comes well equipped for its price point. It comes with power-features such as for the windows and centralized locking. However, it is important to note that there are no speed sensing door locks and no power-retract option for the side mirrors. You also get a decently sized 7-inch touchscreen display that comes with Bluetooth and USB connectivity, along with Aux input and weblink. Great features to have, however, we wish it came with Android Auto and Apple CarPlay capabilities just like in its smaller stablemate the Wigo. Aside from that everything works well and the head unit also comes with a neat party trick as it can tilt upward and downward to make way for the CD inlet. 

Bluetooth pairing can initially be confusing, however, once connected it works like a charm. Even after you leave your car and turn it back on again, the reconnection happens seamlessly which is great. An important thing to note with the infotainment system is that it is the same model found in the higher trim levels albeit without the reverse camera connection. As such it comes with reverse camera support as the screen will turn black when putting the vehicle into reverse. This makes it easier for those who want a rearview camera to have it installed by Toyota later on as the head unit already supports the functionality.

2021 Toyota Vios XLE airbag

When it comes to safety the Vios XLE is decently equipped. It comes with driver and front passenger airbags, vehicle stability control, hill start assist control, ABS with EBD, ISOFIX tethers, and seatbelts all around for all occupants. Overall it’s within the realm of what you would expect for a vehicle of its trim level and price point. Simple but still effective safety features to have.

2021 Toyota Vios XLE CVT

When it comes to driving the Toyota Vios in its XLE CVT variant, power is ample. It’s enough to get the vehicle going and up to cruising speed smoothly. However, when it comes to its transmission, it is still one of the vehicle’s limiting factors. It works smoothly and delivers the optimum ratios when needed, but isn’t too responsive when you want abrupt changes in speed. It also has moments of hesitation, especially when going up inclines as it searches for an ideal ratio for the sedan. Putting it into the manual model does help get the most of what the engine can offer which is great for these kinds of situations.

With that in mind the Vios XLE very much so a relaxed city car and a decent highway cruiser. The revs are kept below 2000 RPM when cruising on the highway giving you the right balance of speed and fuel economy. If you want a more engaging drive then opting for the manual version of the XLE co the trick as the CVT from the get-go is geared more towards fuel economy rather than performance.

Handling-wise the Vios has nicely weighted steering that is easy to use in the city and gives you a stable feel on the highway. Understeer is present with the sedan when taking corners at speed, however, it’s understandable given its front-wheel-drive layout. Similar to the rest of its lineup the suspension is tuned more for comfort, with a bit of body roll here and there but it isn’t uncomfortable. The car still remains composed and stable despite this and still communicates with you when doing higher speed turns. Overall it stays true to the essentials of a city car, being easy to use and designed to get you the most out of your fuel.

2021 Toyota Vios enginebay

The Vios XLE delivers well when it comes to fuel economy. In bumper to bumper city traffic, we were able to get 8.3 km/L which is pretty good for its class. On weekend trips where the traffic clears up a bit, the Japanese sedan delivers 13.5km/L at an average speed of 60km/h. On the highway, however, with realistic driving and with speeds that bounced between 60 to 80km/h due to slower moving traffic, the XLE got 23.3km/L. Overall the Vios XLE does what it was designed to do very well, and that is being an economical vehicle. 

2021 Toyota Vios XLE CVT road test

The Toyota Vios will always be a top-selling vehicle in the Philippines due to its versatility and its wide range of variants and the XLE is no different. As the middle variant, it delivers on what it promises well. It’s a comfortable and affordable sedan that will be able to reliably get you where you need to go. While it doesn’t quite have an “it” factor to it, it’s an ideal choice for those who want a reliable and no-frills sedan that just works really well.

If you want to stand out a bit and get more features then the Vios G is ready to answer the call. Not only does it come with more power under the hood, but it has a few accessories that can help your vehicle stand out in a sea of traffic.

Despite this, the Vios and its XLE variant will still prove to be one of the top-selling cars in the Philippines based on its badge alone. With a powerhouse like Toyota backing it and with parts so plentiful it’s still a great choice to go for, especially for those looking to get a reliable and balanced sedan. 



1.3 L

Fuel Type



98 hp @ 6,000 rpm




Name Toyota Vios 1.3 XLE CVT
Body Type Sedan
Price ₱902,000
Transmission Category CVT



Economy & Environment


Safety & Security




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