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2015 Toyota Yaris REVIEW

Edmunds.com logo Edmunds.com 4/6/2017

Con: Less cargo capacity than some rivals; outdated four-speed automatic transmission; no telescoping steering wheel; no sedan body style.

Interior: The Yaris' interior couldn't be simpler or easier to use. There are just a couple of gauges to read, and the large speedometer is mounted directly in front of the driver. Those worried about a subcompact car affording a low view of the road will find the high-mounted front seats help provide good sight lines. However, the lack of a telescoping steering wheel and firmly padded seats can make long journeys uncomfortable for some folks. In back, there's a refreshing amount of rear-seat legroom, but the sloping headliner restricts rear headroom a bit. Two average size adults will fit in the back seat just fine.

Materials within the 2015 Toyota Yaris are an improvement from the previous generation, but there is still a lot of hard plastics and top rivals feel more refined. The car comes standard with all the basic tech features you're likely to want, including a user-friendly touchscreen interface, Bluetooth with streaming audio capability and a USB input -- amenities you'll often have to pay extra for in this price range.

The four-door Yaris has 15.6 cubic feet of cargo space (15.3 in the two-door) behind its rear seat. You'll find more room for your carry-ons in Chevrolet's Sonic (19 cubic feet) and the Hyundai Accent (21.2 cubic feet). The split-folding rear seat helps make the most of the available space, but even then, the Yaris still trails most competitors – especially the ultra-practical Honda Fit.

Body: The 2015 Toyota Yaris is a subcompact economy car available as either a two- or four-door hatchback. The L and LE trims are offered in both these configurations, while the sporty SE trim is offered only as a four-door.

Standard features on the L include 15-inch steel wheels, power door locks and windows, air-conditioning, a height-adjustable driver seat, a tilt-only steering wheel, a trip computer, a 60/40-split folding rear seat, Bluetooth phone and audio connectivity, and a six-speaker sound system with a 6.1-inch touchscreen, a CD player, HD radio, an auxiliary audio jack and a USB/iPod interface.

The LE adds or substitutes 15-inch alloys, power side mirrors, keyless entry, cruise control, metallic interior accents, chrome interior door handles and steering-wheel-mounted audio controls.

Those who opt for the SE trim get 16-inch alloy wheels, projector-beam headlights, LED running lights, foglamps, special exterior styling elements, a rear spoiler (available as an option on L and LE trims), a sport-tuned suspension, sportier tires, four-wheel disc brakes, a leather-trimmed steering wheel and shifter, and upgraded cloth upholstery.

A navigation system is available on all Yaris models as a dealer-installed option.

Driving: Given the expectations that most people have for this class of car, the 106 hp provided by the 2015 Toyota Yaris will probably be sufficient. There's enough gumption to deal with the cut-and-thrust of suburban traffic flow and the Yaris has no problem holding common freeway speeds, though getting up to those speeds can take some patience. Its main competitors are usefully more muscular.

Not helping things is the four-speed automatic, which is a relic given the six-speed automatics or continuously variable transmissions in newer competitors that make better use of the power available from their small-displacement engines. If you don't mind dealing with a manual transmission, it's the better bet on the Yaris from the standpoint of both acceleration and fuel economy.

The Yaris is steady around turns and has a reasonably smooth ride. The SE model's quicker steering calibration and upgraded brakes and suspension add a sportier bent to the 2015 Yaris' economy-oriented mission, but we wouldn't go so far as to actually call it sporty.

What’s New: For 2015, the Toyota Yaris gets more distinctive front and rear styling. The interior has also been spiffed up with upgraded materials. Finally, every trim level gets a touchscreen infotainment interface and the option of a navigation system.

The front-wheel-drive 2015 Toyota Yaris is powered by a 1.5-liter inline four-cylinder engine rated at 106 hp and 103 pound-feet of torque. Two transmissions are available: a five-speed manual and a four-speed automatic. The manual is standard on the two-door L and the four-door SE, while the four-speed automatic is optional on these models. The four-speed automatic is the only transmission you can get on the four-door L hatchback and all LE models.

In Edmunds testing, a four-door Yaris with the five-speed manual went from zero to 60 mph in 9. 5 seconds, while an automatic-equipped four-door took 10.7 seconds. Both times are decent times for the class, but certain rivals like the Honda Fit or Hyundai Accent are quicker.

EPA fuel economy estimates for the manual-equipped Yaris are 33 mpg combined (30 city/37 highway). With the automatic, these numbers dip to 32 combined (30 city/36 highway). These numbers are solid, but not class-leading.

Safety: Standard safety features include antilock brakes (rear drums for all models except the SE, which gets four-wheel discs), traction and stability control, active front head restraints, front seat side airbags, front and rear side curtain airbags, front seat cushion airbags and a driver knee airbag.

In Edmunds brake testing, a four-door Yaris LE with rear drum brakes stopped from 60 mph in 126, which is a bit longer than average for this segment. A four-door Yaris with the optional rear disc brakes was about average and stopped from 60 mph in 123 feet.

In government crash testing, the Yaris four-door hatchback received four out of five stars for overall crash protection, with four stars for frontal-impact protection and five stars for side-impact protection. The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety gave the Yaris hatchback its top rating of "Good" in its moderate-overlap frontal-offset, side-impact, roof strength and head restraint (whiplash protection) tests. In that agency's small-overlap frontal offset test, the Yaris scored a second-lowest (out of four) "Marginal" rating.

Pro: Agreeable handling; generous standard equipment; adult-friendly backseat; user-friendly standard tech interface.

Edmunds Say: The 2015 Toyota Yaris is what you'd expect from the Toyota of subcompact cars: economical and well-built. But with so many impressive models competing in this segment, Toyota's entry gets lost in the crowd.

Introduction: Over the years, the humbly priced subcompact car has evolved in the best way possible, and today's models deliver much more than just basic transportation. Quite a few choices in this entry-level class offer features that were formerly reserved for cars that are larger and more expensive. In many ways, the 2015 Toyota Yaris hatchback holds its own with the current crop of overachieving subcompacts – but also trails them on certain significant fronts.

The Yaris boasts many appealing attributes. It's a nimble and agreeable companion around town, and its competent suspension helps the car cruise around turns with impressive stability. Overall, this is a pleasant and easy car to drive. This Toyota's interior is spacious, with rear seats that are comfortable even for adults. And the cabin boasts solid design and materials quality. Feature content is generous, and amenities like a touchscreen interface, Bluetooth phone and audio connectivity and USB/iPod integration are standard on all models along with more basic items like air-conditioning, power locks and mirrors, and a height-adjustable driver seat.  

In other ways, though, competition has left the Yaris in the dust. Its outdated four-speed automatic transmission is a step down from the six-speed or continuously variable automatics available on competing models, and leaves the Yaris feeling slow-witted during passing maneuvers. Also, other key models boast a more composed ride quality, more comfortable seats, sharper handling or greater cargo capacity.

The subcompact segment is packed with compelling picks designed to appeal to every stripe of small-car shopper. Buyers seeking outstanding versatility should take a look at the redesigned 2015 Honda Fit, whose unique rear-seat design allows for unmatched passenger and cargo space. Those who prioritize performance should consider the 2015 Ford Fiesta. It's arguably the most fun-to-drive car in the segment, while also having one of the most attractive cabins. Drivers looking for well-rounded alternatives will want to check out the Hyundai Accent and  2015 Kia Rio, as they offer a choice of body styles (sedan and hatchback), spacious interiors, stylish good looks and more horsepower than the Yaris. Shoppers on the tightest budgets should investigate the Nissan Versa sedan, since it's the least expensive new car on the market.

While the 2015 Toyota Yaris is certainly not a segment leader, its generous standard feature content, reasonable price and Toyota's sterling reliability reputation make the Yaris value-rich choice for those after basic transport. Plus, its improvements for 2015 make it more fashionable, better to drive and pleasant to be in. Still, any of those above competitors may go above and beyond to suit you better.

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