Perfect for city dwellers desiring economical reliability, the Toyota Yaris offers its’ namesake’s strengths in a subcompact size. After debuting a full-redesign in 2012, the hatchback arrives with little changed for 2013 besides a standard USB port and Bluetooth on the base model.
The Yaris comes in one body-style but offers two versions: a 3-door hatchback (offered in L and LE trims) and a 5-door hatchback (offered in L, LE and SE trims). With very similar interior/exterior dimensions between the two, the key advantage held by the 5-door is in rear passengers having an individual point of entry/exit rather than needing to squeeze past the front seats.
Plus the top-level SE trim is only available on the 5-door body-style. Still, all styles and trims seat five passengers and are powered by the same 1.5L 4-cylinder engine. A four-speed automatic is the sole transmission equipped on the 5-door L as well as both versions of the LE. However, that same automatic is an option on the 3-door L and 5-door SE, which receive a manual transmission as standard. When equipped with the automatic, the Yaris powertrain gets up to 30/36 mpg city/highway. Bumping highway mileage up to 37 mpg, the five-speed manual transmission is also better at highway speeds where the four-speed automatic fails to find the engine’s power-band. Inside the Yaris, passengers will find a modern cabin filled with standard features but a good amount of plastic as well. Nevertheless, it is quite spacious for a subcompact and fits adults comfortably in the rear seats.
First introduced to the American market in 2007, the Yaris (and similar subcompacts) had been a rarity, yet now has its’ hands full within this rapidly growing segment. Though the 2012 redesign was greatly needed, it did not do enough to put the tiny Toyota at the top-of-the-class. Competitors like the Chevrolet Sonic and Mazda2 come with exciting performance yet a similarly spacious interior cabin as the Toyota. On the other hand, the Yaris does have more standard equipment and a lower base price than either the Sonic or Mazda2. A model that is not speedy but offers fuel-efficiency plus some upscale features as well is the refreshed Hyundai Accent. The Kia Rio is available as a hatchback or sedan and - unlike the Yaris - has an optional infotainment system.
While not the most refined subcompact, Toyota understands the priorities of economy-car shoppers, and this Yaris is proof.