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2015 Toyota Corolla vs. 2015 Toyota Yaris: What's the Difference?

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ADDITIONAL MODEL INFORMATION

author photo by Doug DeMuro December 2014

If you're looking for a reliable new car that won't break your budget, you might be trying to choose between Toyota's two small cars: the compact Corolla and the subcompact Yaris. Both offer reasonable pricing, good fuel economy and Toyota's excellent reputation for long-term dependability. But what's the difference between the two models? We took a closer look at the 2015 Toyota Corolla and the 2015 Toyota Yaris to see what separates them.

Exterior

The biggest difference between the Corolla and the Yaris is clear from the moment you look at the two cars: The Corolla is only available as a 4-door sedan, while the Yaris is offered as a 3- or 5-door hatchback. Aside from that obvious distinction, there are a few other differences that separate the two cars, such as the fact that the Corolla looks a little larger and more substantial than the Yaris. Until 2015, the Yaris and Corolla looked totally different in front -- but the updated 2015 Yaris has adopted the Corolla's bolder front-end design.

Interior

Surprisingly, interior variation between the Yaris and Corolla isn't as substantial as the cars' exterior differences. That's especially true for 2015, as the Yaris now uses an updated dashboard that mimics the larger Corolla's. But there are still some differences in material quality. The Yaris uses cheaper plastics, for example, which is immediately obvious when compared to the Corolla's slightly more upscale interior. Another difference: As expected, the Yaris has less room inside.

Mechanicals

The Yaris is powered by a 108-horsepower 1.5-liter 4-cylinder engine, offered with 5-speed manual or 4-speed automatic transmissions. Fuel economy numbers reach as high as 30 miles per gallon in the city and 37 mpg on the highway with the manual, or 30 mpg city/36 mpg hwy with the automatic.

The Corolla features a more refined 132-hp 1.8-liter 4-cylinder engine, mated to either a 6-speed manual, a continuously variable automatic transmission (CVT) or -- in base-level L models -- a 4-speed automatic. Most drivers will choose the CVT, which returns up to 29 mpg city/38 mpg hwy, or 30 mpg city/42 mpg hwy in "Eco" guise. The 4-speed automatic returns 27 mpg city/36 mpg hwy, while the 6-speed manual is rated at 28 mpg city/37 mpg hwy.

Features & Technology

Given the difference in base price between the Yaris and Corolla, most drivers won't be surprised to learn that the Corolla offers more equipment than the Yaris. But that's not to say that the subcompact Yaris isn't without features. On the contrary, 2015 models now include Toyota's Entune audio system -- complete with Bluetooth, voice recognition and a 6.1-inch touchscreen -- as standard equipment.

With that said, the Corolla certainly offers more standard, and available, equipment than the Yaris. The Corolla offers heated seats, for example, which aren't available in the Yaris, along with 17-in wheels instead of the Yaris's 16-inchers. The Corolla also touts an available factory navigation system, which is a "dealer option" in the Yaris, along with Toyota's high-tech Entune App Suite feature, which isn't available in the Yaris. Additionally, the Corolla boasts other available unique items such as paddle shifters, a leather-wrapped steering wheel and a Sport driving mode.

Driving Experience

Both the 2015 Toyota Corolla and Yaris offer largely similar driving experiences. Both are somewhat uninspired behind the wheel, with light steering, mediocre acceleration and a reasonably smooth ride. The Yaris is a little less refined than the Corolla, but neither car offers impressive levels of ride comfort or refinement.

Nevertheless, the Corolla's CVT automatic is dramatically better than the Yaris model's highly outdated 4-speed transmission. In fact, we think the Corolla's CVT is smooth, mostly noise-free and largely preferable to many traditional automatic transmissions. Conversely, we found the Yaris to be a little more enjoyable to drive than most subcompact cars, thanks to better handling than most of its rivals. Still, it's no sports car, but it's more fun than you might expect.

Safety

Both the Yaris and the Corolla come standard with all the safety basics, including items such as side-curtain airbags, anti-lock brakes and traction control. Only the Corolla offers a backup camera, which is standard on all models except the base-level Corolla L. Unfortunately, neither the Corolla nor the Yaris offers the latest in safety gadgets and technology -- and that means no blind spot monitoring system, no lane-departure warning, no rear cross-traffic alert and no parking sensors. To us, that's a shame, since many rivals -- especially Corolla competitors -- offer some, or all, of these features.

In government crash testing, the Corolla earned a perfect 5-star overall score, trumping the Yaris model's 4-star rating. Both cars demonstrated the same above-average performance in testing conducted by the nonprofit Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS).

Conclusions

With a starting price of around $15,300 with shipping, the Yaris could easily be considered a "cheaper Corolla" -- especially given the Corolla's $17,500 base-level MSRP. We think that assessment is largely accurate because the Yaris offers less interior room than the Corolla, fewer features, less safety equipment and slightly lower fuel economy. As a result, we recommend spending more and getting the Corolla if you can afford it. If not, rest assured that the Yaris is still a competent, efficient vehicle that will likely serve you well for years.

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2015 Toyota Corolla vs. 2015 Toyota Yaris: What's the Difference? - Autotrader