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2015 Toyota Yaris

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2015 Toyota Yaris Review

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KBB Expert Rating: 8.2

The 2015 Toyota Yaris hatchback looks dramatically different from last year's model. The grille is bigger, the tail sharper, and the new Yaris interior is nicer. It's all part of Toyota's effort to counter the onslaught of superior subcompacts like the Kia Rio, Ford Fiesta and Chevrolet Sonic. However, while the upgrades this year are worthwhile, little was done to fix the fundamental problem facing the Toyota Yaris, namely, that it's sort of a shrug to drive. The engine and transmission are the same, and despite structural changes, the car behaves pretty much the same from behind the wheel. Impeccable Toyota reliability, improved creature comforts, and undeniably better looks are strong selling points, but for those looking for more pizazz, there are more appealing cars.

You'll Like This Car If...

Reputation counts for a lot, and Toyota's reputation for quality and longevity certainly merits attention. Combined that with the low price and high resale value, and it makes a good long-term financial proposition.

You May Not Like This Car If...

Despite being a sound vehicular investment, the 2015 Toyota Yaris isn't particularly engaging to drive. Think that's too tall an order? Then check out the Honda Fit, Mazda2 or Ford Fiesta, for starters. It's also handily outpaced on fuel economy by many other competitors.

What's New for 2015

For 2015, the Toyota Yaris gets new front- and rear-end styling, along with an upgraded interior. The new Yaris looks more aggressive than before, and the new interior offers more soft-touch surfaces and more modern technology.

Driving the Yaris
Driving Impressions

The 2015 Toyota Yaris boasts a stiffer body than last year's model, but the reality is that there's not much difference felt from behind the wheel of this little hatchback....

... The small 4-cylinder engine offers adequate acceleration under most conditions, but pushing your foot to the floor results in more noise than additional acceleration. It doesn't help that the automatic transmission is an antiquated 4-speed, which pales next to the 6-speeds and continuously variable automatics available in the competition. While there's a 5-speed manual available, it's not much of an improvement thanks to its vague and rubbery feel. The Yaris SE offers up slightly better driving dynamics, and fuel economy is pretty good with the manual, which offers up to 37 mpg on the highway. Still, other cars offer better fuel economy (Nissan Versa), a better driving experience (Ford Fiesta), or both (Honda Fit).

ENTUNE
Every new Toyota Yaris gets Toyota's Entune audio system with a 6.1-inch touch-screen interface. It includes HD radio, iTunes tagging, a USB port, voice recognition, and Bluetooth wireless music streaming, a pretty sophisticated suite of technology for such an inexpensive car.

NINE AIRBAGS
The 2015 Toyota Yaris boasts a total of nine airbags, a total large enough that we wonder how they'd all fit in the tiny car were they to all inflate at once. Add this to the standard stability and traction control, and you have a surprisingly safe little car.

2015 Toyota Yaris Details
Interior

The much-needed upgrades added two major things to the new Toyota Yaris interior. First, there are more soft-touch surfaces, giving this least-expensive Toyota a slightly more premium feel. Don't get too excited, however, this is still a budget-priced economy car, not a Lexus. The other addition is the new dash design integrating Toyota's Entune touch-screen infotainment system. However, that's about it. There's no telescoping steering wheel – limiting driver comfort – and rear-seat passengers will find themselves with limited legroom. There's decent cargo space behind the folding rear seats, although the Yaris lacks the Honda Fit's cargo flexibility.

Exterior
2015 Toyota Yaris photo

Toyota has fit its big-mouth grille to the new Yaris, as if somehow the vast expanse of black plastic on the front of the car had somehow failed to grab your attention. That, plus less dramatic changes to the rear, gives the 2015 Yaris an unmistakable appearance in a crowded market. We're not sure we're 100 percent behind the new look, but it's certainly distinctive, especially the SE model with its aluminum-alloy wheels, fog lights and rear spoiler. The Yaris's small size makes it easy to park and maneuver in traffic.

Notable Equipment
Standard Equipment

You can get the 2015 Toyota Yaris in two hatchback body styles, with two or four doors. The base L model gets the Entune touch-screen infotainment system standard that includes USB and Bluetooth, along with a 60/40-split folding rear seatback, tilt steering, power windows, and air conditioning. The more premium LE model adds cruise control, a steering wheel with audio controls, and remote keyless entry. SE models include a leather-trimmed steering wheel and shift knob, and better instruments, as well as 4-wheel disc brakes. The Yaris also comes with ToyotaCare scheduled maintenance and roadside assistance for two years or 25,000 miles.

Optional Equipment

About the only noteworthy standalone option is actually an accessory: an $800 or so navigation system that's available as an add-on to Entune. The rest of the options are divided firmly into the model levels – if you want cruise control, you have to get an LE or SE, since it's not available with the L at all.

Under the Hood

The new Toyota Yaris uses the same engine as the old Toyota Yaris, namely, a 1.5-liter 4-cylinder engine with Variable Valve Timing with intelligence (VVT-i) that's good for 106 horsepower. Sending that power to the front wheel is either a 5-speed manual transmission or a 4-speed automatic. For around town, the engine is fine, but on the highway, it becomes the little engine that barely can, especially if you're trying to pass on a 2-lane highway. The transmissions both feel antiquated as well. The manual's shift action isn't particularly smooth, and the 4-speed automatic is outclassed by competitors offering 6-speeds or continuously variable automatic transmissions. Fuel economy is pretty good though, and the little engine only requires regular-grade gasoline.

1.5-liter inline-4
106 horsepower @ 6,000 rpm
103 lb-ft of torque @ 4,200 rpm
EPA city/highway fuel economy: 30/37 mpg (manual), 30/36 mpg (automatic)

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