Three years into its model run, the 2018 Toyota Yaris iA – a Mexican built, re-badged Mazda2 – continues to offer buyers an upscale interior, supple ride, excellent fuel economy, and a charming driving character. But its back seat is on the small side, while the single-spec trim lacks a sunroof and a number of advanced safety features.

Best Value

An orphan from the Scion brand, the Yaris iA's mono-spec heritage means pricing begins at $16,845 for a six-speed manual and ends at $17,945 with a six-speed automatic (both prices include the $895 destination charge).

Those prices are remarkable when you consider a list of standard features that includes air conditioning, push-button start, tilt/telescope steering column, and a rear view camera along with low-speed forward collision warning and automatic emergency braking. Adding to the mix is an infotainment system consisting of a seven-inch touchscreen with Bluetooth phone and music streaming, two USB ports, and an auxiliary input. Steering wheel audio controls are also standard.

The six-speed manual is a real kick to drive, but realistically most buyers will choose the automatic, which looks like this:

  • Model: 2018 Toyota Yaris iA
  • Engine: 1.5-liter four-cylinder
  • Output: 106 hp / 103 lb-ft
  • Transmission: Six-speed automatic
  • Drivetrain: Front-wheel drive
  • MPG: 32 City / 40 Hwy
  • Options: None
  • Base Price: $17,945 (including an $895 destination fee)
  • Best Value Price: $17,945

Performance

Toyota Yaris iA

Excellent fuel economy, a smooth, high-revving engine, a supple, composed ride, and nicely-weighted steering with excellent feedback vault the iA to the top of its class. This is a fun car to drive everyday, challenging the very best in the segment (the Chevrolet Sonic and Honda Fit). Thanks in part goes to Mazda, which engineered the bones of the Yaris iA as the Mazda2.

But the issues that affect some other Mazdas rear their head here. There's plenty of road, tire, and engine noise at all speeds. The 1.5-liter engine is particularly buzzy, which is a frustrating trait considering its modest power output – there's only 106 hp and 103 lb-ft of torque to deal with 2,400 pounds of sub-compact Asian sedan.

Interior and Exterior

The face is kind of tragic, but the profile and tail of the Yaris iA are less able to hide the handsome Mazda creases. More importantly, the cabin is comfortable, with nicely-bolstered front seats, a seven-inch touchscreen, soft touch surfaces, and elegant styling cues give the interior a class-above look and feel. Again, the Yaris iA's Mazda heritage shines through in the material choices.

But there's no sunroof option and, despite the seatbelt count of three, realistically there's room for just two adults in back. A meager trunk yields just 11 cubic feet of storage, so if you're planning on loading up regularly, the Yaris iA might not be a great choice.

The Best and Worst Things

The Yaris iA's nicely-weighted steering, agile, composed ride, and – when chosen - slick manual transmission make it a standout in its class. This is a genuinely fun car to drive.

But limited cargo space and the absence of some active safety features present on other Toyota products disappoint.

Right For? Wrong For?

Toyota Yaris iA

A fun-to-drive personality, smooth, controlled ride, room for four in its class-above interior, and decent amount of trunk space make the Yaris iA a top choice for singles.

While a rear view camera and low-speed automatic emergency braking are standard, the iA lacks a number of advanced safety features that are found on most of of Toyota's lineup – that could prove to be a turn-off to many safety-conscious buyers.

The Bottom Line

Despite its unfortunate front styling and limited space, the Yaris iA is among the most entertaining and value-focused entries in this class. It may be an orphan from the now-dead Scion brand, but this sub-compact sedan should have no problem finding a home in plenty of driveways.