By KBB.com Editors - Updated Date: 10/12/2012
In the subcompact category, Toyota's Yaris had fallen behind newer, edgier competitors such as the Honda Fit, Ford Fiesta and Mazda Mazda2, so Toyota completely revamped the car last year. The 2013 Toyota Yaris hatchback pursues younger buyers with its suite of high-tech audio and communications features, attractive styling and the well-established Toyota reputation for reliability and resale value. But the Yaris' mission isn't an easy one. Though roomier and more stylish than its predecessor, the Yaris' looks and performance don't make a huge splash in this competitive category. Newcomers such as the sleek Kia Rio, sassy Hyundai Accent and bold Chevrolet Sonic make the Toyota Yaris look pretty conservative – maybe not the best thing for this audience.You'll Like This Car If...
If you're looking for a small, economical car that is fun to drive, affordable on just about any budget, and is backed by one of the most respected car manufacturers in the world, the 2013 Toyota Yaris hatchback may be it.
If you need your car to be expressive both inside and out, the 2013 Toyota Yaris' black and gray interior schemes don't match the colorful cabins found in the Ford Fiesta, Kia Rio and Chevy Sonic.
Last year, Toyota gave the Yaris hatchback a complete makeover. The only changes for 2013 involve equipment packaging: The good audio system (AM/FM/CD, six speakers, USB port, Bluetooth) is now standard on all trims including the base L, and cruise control, formerly an LE option, is now standard there.Driving It Driving Impressions
Driving the 2013 Toyota Yaris hatchback offers few surprises. The 1.5-liter 4-cylinder engine is rated at 106 horsepower. It feels smooth and acceptably strong under moderate acceleration around town, but can seem strained if more is asked of it. The automatic transmission is only a 4-speed. Steering is light and suspension action nicely compliant. The top, slightly sportier SE trim has firmer suspension and sharper steering response but the same engine output. Fuel economy is in the mid-to-high 30s, which is certainly competitive in its class. But there is no denying the Yaris is built down to a price and this shows in its powertrain. For about the same money, a Hyundai Accent offers a more advanced direct-injection 1.6 that makes a whopping (relatively) 138 horsepower and still tops the Yaris in EPA city/highway fuel economy, 30/40 mpg versus the Yaris' 30/35 (automatics).Favorite Features
Now standard on all Yaris trims, this system makes it far safer to drive and talk on the phone simultaneously and should be standard on every car.
Always a concern when driving a subcompact, the safety issue is addressed by standard airbags protecting the front and rear passengers. Even the driver's knees are covered.
The 2013 Toyota Yaris' interior design is clean and modern but the materials seem rather low-budget, with lots of muted gray and black plastic bits and generic seat fabric. On the plus side, the Yaris' interior is pretty roomy for such a small car, with good headroom front and rear. The hatchback design allows for easy loading of cargo. There is a respectable 15.6 cubic feet of load space behind the rear seats. The 2013 Toyota Yaris includes a nice, thick-grip 3-spoke adjustable steering wheel with a flat bottom to aid entry and exit.Exterior
The Toyota Yaris subcompact grew in every dimension except height in its redesign last year, and has a nice, bulldog stance: leaning forward, ready to pick a fight. The short front and rear overhangs and short hood help make maneuvering through tight spots a breeze, as does the expansive greenhouse that provides excellent 360-degree views. The Yaris is the first Toyota vehicle to employ a single-windshield-wiper design, a feature often found on high-end European cars. Base model L and LE cars ride on 15-inch steel wheels with plastic covers, while the sporty SE gets 16-inch alloys.Notable Standard Equipment
The 2013 Toyota Yaris surely carries the most simplified list of options: there aren't any. Equipment and features are packaged statically across the models and trims. The 3-door body is available in base L trim with either a 5-speed manual or 4-speed automatic, or in LE trim with the automatic only. The 5-doors come in L or LE trim with the automatic only, or in the top, sportier SE trim with either transmission. All configurations include electric power steering, air conditioning, power door locks, intermittent wipers, halogen headlights, HD Radio with six speakers and Bluetooth phone connectivity and streaming audio.
Last year, the one and only Yaris factory option was cruise control, available on the LE trim. Now even that option is gone, as the 2013 Yaris LE includes cruise control as standard equipment. Also bundled in the LE package are power windows and mirrors, remote keyless entry and a 60/40-split folding rear seat. The sporty SE is available only as a 5-door model and adds a sport suspension, 16-inch alloy wheels, 4-wheel disc brakes and higher-bolstered front seats. Dealer-installed accessories include a rear spoiler, mudguards, body-side molding and rear cargo net.Under the Hood
The 2013 Toyota Yaris 3- and 5-door hatchbacks share the same 1.5-liter 4-cylinder engine with Variable Valve Timing with Intelligence (VVT-i), producing 106 horsepower. This is enough power to tool around town, but it might feel marginal when passing on a 2-way highway. Transmission choices are a 5-speed manual and 4-speed automatic, which are functional enough but not very cutting-edge alongside the 6-speed units offered by others in the class. The Hyundai Accent makes a tough comparison: lots more power (138) as well as better EPA fuel economy (30/40) from a direct-injection engine and 6-speed transmission, all for about the same money.
106 horsepower @ 6,000 rpm
103 lb-ft of torque @ 4,200 rpm
EPA city/highway fuel economy: 30/38 mpg (manual), 30/35 mpg (automatic)
The Manufacturer's Suggested Retail Price (MSRP) for a base Toyota Yaris 3-door L hatchback with a manual transmission starts just over $15,000, while a 5-door LE with an automatic transmission sells for over $17,000. The SE trim starts just over $17,000 and tops $18,000 with the automatic. The Yaris' main competitor, the Honda Fit, has a starting MSRP closer to $16,000, and includes many of the same features (and a slightly more powerful engine). The Ford Fiesta starts around $14,000, but can get expensive as options are added. To make your best deal, be sure to check the KBB.com Fair Purchase Price, which shows what others in your area are paying. The Yaris is expected to retain a better-than-average resale value over time, higher than the Kia Rio, about even with the Ford Fiesta but a bit below the Honda Fit.