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2015 Toyota Yaris: New Car Review

Editor’s note: If you’re looking for information on a newer Toyota Yaris, we’ve published an updated review: 2019 Toyota Yaris Review.

 

Originally on sale in 2007 and updated in 2012, the entry-level Toyota Yaris offers some major updates for the 2015 model year. Along with a new grille, the Yaris includes updates to the rear end, the interior and even the equipment list, as well as the addition of LED daytime running lights and other updates for 2015.

Unfortunately, the 2015 Toyota Yaris didn’t get the full redesign that it really needs. The Yaris continues to use a 4-speed automatic transmission, for example, which hinders both acceleration and highway fuel economy. Most rivals have five or six speeds by now. The Yaris model’s status as Toyota’s entry-level car is also very obvious when you’re behind the wheel — even with the updates for the new model year.

The Yaris does its best to compensate for its shortcomings with a few special ingredients. First, its feature content is a strength by subcompact standards. The suspension is also surprisingly capable, delivering more fun-to-drive smiles than expected. And in spite of its outdated transmission, the Yaris still manages to have respectable fuel economy figures.

Indeed, the Yaris may not be a superstar, but it’s a solid competitor with the added bonuses of Toyota’s traditionally strong resale value and reliability. See the 2015 Toyota Yaris models for sale near you

What’s New for 2015?

The Yaris offers several updates for 2015, including redesigned front and rear fascias, a heavily revised interior and a few extra features such as LED daytime running lights on SE models.  

What We Like

Good overall fuel economy; standard Bluetooth and USB/iPod connectivity; accommodating back seat; stylish interior; nimble handling

What We Don’t

Outdated 4-speed automatic transmission; noisy engine; steering wheel doesn’t telescope

How Much?

$15,800-$17,800

Fuel Economy

The Yaris is powered by a 106-horsepower 1.5-liter 4-cylinder engine. A 5-speed manual is standard, while a 4-speed automatic is optional. Both transmissions have about the same gas mileage ratings. The manual transmission returns 30 miles per gallon city/37 mpg hwy, while the automatic comes in at 30 mpg city/36 mpg hwy.

Standard Features & Options

The 2015 Toyota Yaris is available as a 3- or 5-door hatchback. Three trim levels are offered: L, LE and SE. The L and LE trims are available in 3- or 5-door body styles, while the SE trim is only available on the 5-door model.

The base Yaris L ($15,800) is well-equipped with 15-inch steel wheels, air conditioning, a 6-speaker stereo with iPod/USB connectivity, Bluetooth, a tilt-only steering wheel (a telescoping function is unavailable), side-curtain airbags and a fold-down back seat.

The Yaris LE ($17,400) adds features such as a height-adjustable driver’s seat, cruise control, a 60/40-split folding back seat and steering-wheel-mounted audio controls.

The sport-themed Yaris SE ($17,800) tacks on 16-in alloy wheels, unique exterior styling cues, sport fabric upholstery, a leather-wrapped sport steering wheel and special instrumentation.

Safety

The Yaris comes with standard stability control, nine airbags and whiplash-reducing front seats. In government crash tests, the Yaris received an overall rating of four out of five stars, including four stars for frontal impacts, five stars for side impacts and four stars for rollover safety. The independent Insurance Institute for Highway Safety awarded the Yaris its top rating of Good in every crash-test category except for the difficult new small overlap front crash test, where it received a rating of Marginal.

Behind the Wheel

The Yaris is one of the most enjoyable entry-level cars to drive. The steering is noticeably tighter and more responsive than before, and the car zips around with an eagerness that usually can’t be found in subcompact cars.

The raucous engine and outdated 4-speed automatic transmission are killjoys, though, and the ride cannot be described as supple. In other words, the Yaris is something of a mixed bag from behind the wheel. Make sure you take it up to highway speeds during your test drive, and try to find some bumpy pavement to sample, too.

The Yaris model’s front seats are nothing to write home about, though the SE model’s sport fabric upholstery does seem to add a bit of grip. A potential deal-breaker for taller drivers is the tilt-only steering column, which requires a serious reach forward if the seat has been moved all the way back. The updated dashboard, though, has far more style than ever before, pushing the Yaris to the head of the class in this respect. The materials aren’t bad, either. No, the plastics aren’t luxurious, but at least they have distinctive grains and everything seems to be bolted together well.

The Yaris model’s accommodating back seat is proof that subcompact vehicles don’t have to punish rear passengers. Even full-sized adults can ride back there for a while without complaint. Kudos to Toyota’s engineers for figuring out how to make this happen in such a tiny car.

Other Cars to Consider

Chevrolet Sonic — The Sonic excels at cruising on the highway and it has some neat interior touches, not to mention superior power and fuel economy with the 1.4-liter turbo. Overall, it’s a tough competitor for the Yaris.

Toyota Prius c — If you have up to $20,000 to spend and you want to use less gas, check out the new Prius c, which is based on the Yaris but runs at an impressive 50 mpg.

Used Honda Civic — The Civic offers excellent reliability, available hybrid and performance models and two different body styles: a sleek coupe and a practical sedan. New Civics are more expensive than the Yaris, so consider going used.

Used Toyota Corolla — If you need a little more space than you can get from a Yaris, consider a pre-owned Corolla. You’ll find that it offers many of the Yaris model’s virtues, including excellent gas mileage and Toyota durability.

Autotrader’s Advice

We think the base Yaris L model offers the best value. But pay attention to the height of the driver’s seat, because it’s not adjustable in the L. For that, you’ll need to upgrade to the Yaris LE. Find a Toyota Yaris for sale

 

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