As a small four-wheel drive wagon, the Terios is inexpensive to buy and good fun to run. It’s also got decent equipment levels for the youth leisure market it was aimed at.
When it was launched, many people criticised its tall and narrow build with four doors as a little unusual, but several other manufacturers have since followed in its design footsteps. It proved popular with surfers and others who enjoy outdoor pastimes. Like other Daihatsus, the Terios is well put together, has a very good reliability record, and is economical to run.
Eventually Toyota got involved and the relaunched Terios in 2007 looked like a Rav4’s smaller brother. Like its predecessors, it was good at what it set out to do, provided that didn’t involve a need to break speed limits on the open roads.
The DX and the SX Daihatsu models are specifically made for the Australian market, with both using a version of the Charade’s 1.3Lengine. A 5-speed manual gearbox was fitted as standard, and there was an option of a 4-speed automatic. It isn’t a powerful engine for the size of the car, and it’s not really designed for doing lots of long distance driving.All-wheel drive on the Terios is permanent with a mechanical differential lock included for those who don’t want permanent four-wheel drive. Despite the engine size, the Terios will do everything that’s asked of it, especially if that involves running around town. Once out the open road, you will find the engine revving quite hard to run at 100km/h.
Driving off road is helped by an extra low-ratio first gear to help gain traction in slow four-wheel drive conditions and help it climb over obstructions at low speed. The Terios is in constant all-wheel drive, though for four-wheel drive you will need to press the switch in the cabin to engage the gears. For many off-road purists, the Terios lacks low-ratio gears. Handling off road is fairly good for the size of the car, but drivers shouldn’t be too ambitious with its potential handling.
The Terios will provide maximum power of 61kW at 6100rpm and maximum torque of 105Nm at 5100rpm. The speed of acceleration is good for the car and engine size; it will do 0-100km/h in 10.5 seconds.
Because of its off-road credentials, the suspension is quite stiff, and this can lead to issues with body roll on some tight corners.
For the price, the Terios came with an impressive list of equipment, with the DX version having power steering, dual front airbags, tinted body glass, and 50/50 split-folding rear seats. The SX had central locking, roof rails, alloy wheels, and a roof spoiler. Air-conditioning was an optional extra.
The Terios will carry 4 adults comfortably, but when the front seats are pushed right back, legroom in the rear becomes tight. Luggage space is quite generous, and it’s useful to have the 50/50 arrangement for the rear seat to create more space.
The latest Terios has a better spec, with things like a CD tuner, alloy wheels, and climate control as standard.
First unveiled in 1997, the Terios is known in different markets around the world under various guises, but it did well for Daihatsu. It picked up fans for being inexpensive and easy to maintain, and for doing what it sets out to do quite well.
Competition would include cars from the Suzuki range, especially the Suzuki Vitara. If you’re thinking of buying a Peroda Kembara instead, don’t; it’s a re-badged version of the Terios.