Toyota’s smallest car doesn’t deliver much more than its tagline: it’s a car.
A 1.5-liter four-cylinder is mated to either a manual or automatic transmission; fuel-sipping economy is the order of the day.
Even though the entry-level market is littered with excellent vehicles from Nissan, Ford and Mazda, Toyota continues to only offer the workmanlike Yaris in response. The two- and four-door hatchback models appear to be as small as Toyota is willing to go, although both offer plenty of passenger and cargo volume despite their small and lightweight frames. For the most recent 2012 redesign, Yaris received a more prominent with larger air intakes and angular headlight pods. More obvious physical changes included the installation of a single windshield wiper arm (containing a built-in washer nozzle) replacing the traditional dual-wiper system. Many of the Yaris’s critics are thrilled that Toyota abandoned the center-mounted instrument cluster and returned the gauges to a more natural position in front of the driver. Other cabin improvements included reshaping the front seats, increasing sound insulation and installing nine airbags, including front and rear side airbags, side-curtain airbags and driver’s side knee protection. Base L models use a one-piece folding rear bench, with the 60:40 split-folding seat standard on LE and SE versions. Yaris uses a familiar 1.5-liter four-cylinder engine that makes 106 horsepower and 103 pound-feet of torque. Completing the powertrain is a five-speed manual transmission, or a four-speed automatic option, the latter of which is rated at 30 mpg city and 35 mpg highway. However, maximum fuel efficiency can be achieved with the manual gearbox: 30/38 city/highway values. Base L models are built as two-door hatchbacks and provide relatively basic transportation. However air conditioning, power door locks and a four-speaker stereo are included. A more inclusive suite of features comes on the two- and four-door LE, such as power windows and mirrors, remote keyless entry and a six-speaker audio package with hands-free Bluetooth communications. The top-rung SE adds a sport-tuned suspension, front and rear disc brakes, alloy wheels, six-way adjustable driver’s seat and other distinctive interior and exterior content.
Base price (incl. destination): $14,900 (2013)
Type: Two- /four-door hatchback; four-door sedan
Engine (hp): 1.5-liter DOHC I4 (106)
Layout: Front-engine, front-wheel-drive
Transmissions: Five-speed manual; four-speed automatic (opt.)
MPG (city/hwy): 30/38 (AT)
Safety: Front airbags; front/rear side-impact airbags; side-curtain airbags; anti-lock brakes, traction control, stability control
Weight (lb.): 2,300