Daihatsu Terios DX Car Reviews NRMA Motoring & Services

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Daihatsu Terios DX Car Review

Author: NRMA Motoring Date: 1 June 1997

Daihatsu is going after the youth leisure market with the release of its new small 4WD wagon called the Terios.

Terios isn’t super powerful and it’s not designed with heavy duty off-road work in mind, but it’s affordable, bright and breezy inside and out, and comes reasonably well equipped.

It’s not hard to imagine the Terios finding favour with the surfboard set and there could be quite a few of them seen on, or around, the beach this summer.

The styling of the Terios looks a little unusual, being quite tall and narrow, but it has the edge over its two-door Feroza and Rocky stablemates by providing the convenience of four-door access.

Two Terios models are available; the DX and the SX. Both are powered by a modified version of the 1.3 litre Charade engine, with five speed manual transmission standard and four speed automatic an option. Drive is full-time to all four wheels and a mechanical centre diff lock is included.

Standard features in the $17,990 DX include dual front airbags, power steering, electric door mirrors, two-tone metallic paint, spare wheel cover, tinted body glass, 50/50 split fold rear seats, a rear washer/wiper and an AM/FM radio/cassette player (but with just two speakers). Surprisingly, the interior mirror lacks an anti-glare tilt function and the wipers don’t automatically switch on when the washers are activated.

Additional items on the $19,990 SX include central locking (including rear door), front electric windows, a chrome plated front grille, roof rails, alloy road wheels, a roof spoiler, four speakers for the sound system and rear head restraints. Automatic costs an extra $1,600 and airconditioning is $1,793.

Though the Terios’s skinny girth effectively precludes carrying three adults across the back seat, there is quite reasonable space for four occupants. Rear leg room is a little cramped with the front seats set right back, but put them just a notch forward and you’re OK. Front and rear seat comfort is basic and lacking in good lateral support, but overall, rates as satisfactory for the class.

With both the backrest and rear cushion able to be folded in a 50/50 arrangement, a luggage area of useful proportions is available, depending on the number of occupants to be carried. Even with all seats in use, the Terios has a better-than-average load length.

With just a 1.3 litre engine, the Terios isn’t over-endowed with power and performance, however it’s satisfactory for the conditions where it’s destined to spend most of its time — that’s running around town and the suburbs.

To help the Terios get off the mark well, and for more power in slow 4WD conditions, first gear is an extra low ratio.

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Out on the open road, the Terios’s engine gets pretty busy when cruising around the limits — at 100 km/h, it’s revving at around 4,000 rpm.

Four-wheel-drive vehicles never handle as well as cars, but the Terios’s high, narrow stance exacerbates the feeling of instability in difficult conditions, or on sudden changes of direction. The Terios was noticeably affected by cross winds and jumped around a bit over corrugations. You need to exercise caution and don’t expect too much of the Terios when it comes to handling and roadholding.

Though it lacks a dual range transmission, the Terios acquitted itself quite well in off-road trials. The low first gear allows it to crawl over obstacles without stalling and the good clearance and minimal front and rear overhang means you can get most places without scraping anything.


Though its handling failed to inspire and there were times when more power would have been welcome, the new Daihatsu Terios impressed in enough areas to predict that it should win a fair share of buyers.

Perhaps even more importantly, the Terios is affordable to its target youth market and its design and versatility will appeal to those who want something different to run-of-the-mill sedans and hatches.

Test vehicle supplied by Daihatsu Australia.

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