If you’re looking for information on a newer Toyota Yaris, we’ve published an updated review: 2019 Toyota Yaris Review
The 2017 Toyota Yaris iA sedan is a curious creature. It’s in no way related to the Yaris hatchback, while its iA suffix dates to the lone year it was sold as a Scion. In fact, it’s not even made by Toyota: It’s actually designed, engineered and built by Mazda, which sells it as the Mazda2 in other markets. Despite this confusing pedigree, however, you really only need to know one thing: If you’re interested in a subcompact sedan, the Yaris iA should be on your radar.
Beyond its Toyota-specific front styling and the logo on its steering wheel, the iA is all Mazda, which is a very good thing, as it looks and drives very much like a miniature version of the company’s excellent Mazda3. It’s therefore blessed with sharp driving dynamics, superior fuel economy and a cabin that’s both stylish and well-made. It’s certainly a much better car than the other Yaris.
Yet there’s actually one area that’s all Toyota, and even a little Scion: its fully loaded features list, which boasts niceties like a standard 7-inch display, push-button start and most impressively, a forward-collision warning system with automatic braking. Now, that does mean the iA has a higher starting price than other subcompacts, but if that price is right for you, we think it’s probably your best small-sedan option.
What’s New for 2017?
The Toyota Yaris iA is officially a new model for 2017, but it was technically sold as a Scion last year. Nothing changes aside from the new name and badge. See the 2017 Toyota Yaris iA models for sale near you
What We Like
Long list of standard equipment; excellent crash-test scores; excellent handling and driving experience; high-end cabin
What We Don’t
Unusual front-end styling; narrow size makes for tight interior; higher price than other subcompacts; no options How Much?
The Toyota Yaris iA is only offered with front-wheel drive and comes with only one engine choice: a 106-horsepower 1.5-liter 4-cylinder, which is mated to a 6-speed manual or 6-speed automatic transmission. Fuel economy is rated at 32 miles per gallon in the city, 40 mpg on the highway and 35 mpg in combined driving with the automatic and 30 mpg city/39 mpg hwy/34 mpg combined with the manual.
Standard Features & Options
The 2017 Toyota Yaris iA is only offered in one trim level, and you really only choose which color and transmission you want ($16,000 manual; $17,100 automatic).
Standard features include 16-in alloy wheels, keyless access with push-button start, cruise control, air conditioning, power accessories (locks, windows and mirrors), a backup camera, forward-collision warning and automatic braking, a tilt-telescopic steering wheel, a 7-inch display with a console-mounted controller and limited touchscreen capability, Bluetooth phone and audio connectivity, a USB port and a 6-speaker sound system. A navigation system is the only option apart from dealer-installed accessories.
The iA comes standard with front side airbags, side-curtain airbags, anti-lock brakes, a backup camera and forward-collision warning with automatic braking. Only the other Yaris matches that content.
The government gave the iA its best possible 5-star rating in the overall, frontal- and side-impact categories. That’s excellent. The nonprofit Insurance Institute for Highway Safety named it a Top Safety Pick due to its top performance in all crash tests, along with the Advanced score its frontal crash prevention system received.
Behind the Wheel
For a car with a 1.5-liter 4-cylinder engine that makes just 106 hp and 103 lb-ft of torque without a turbocharger in sight, the iA is surprisingly enjoyable to drive. There’s no doubt the car’s relatively light weight of just under 2,500 pounds is a factor here, although the engine is eager to rev. Steep hills are no big deal, and there’s plenty of pep for most commutes and excursions.
The standard transmission is a 6-speed manual, but most buyers will pay the extra $1,100 and go for a 6-speed automatic. It’s a regular, planetary-geared unit (as opposed to a continuously variable transmission), and it shifts just as smartly as it does in other cars produced by Mazda. If anyone does go for the stick shift, the action is fairly quick and slick, though the clutch bites quite high within the pedal’s range of travel.
The rest of the driving experience is true to its Mazda engineering rather than its Toyota badge … that’s a good thing. Although certainly not as sharp to drive as the pricier Mazda3, the iA is nevertheless blessed with responsive steering and sharp reactions that make it one of the best subcompacts to drive. It’s also sufficiently solid and quiet for a small, inexpensive car, though the ride can be a bit firm.
As for interior room, there’s no hiding the fact that the car is narrow — the result being that shoulder room is somewhat tight. Meanwhile, legroom is fine for an adult of average size, even in the back. Your feet can slide under the seat in front, and it’s bearable for more than a short trip. Headroom is also okay for someone who’s not of above-average height. The more irritating issue for the front occupants is that the center armrest is too short, doesn’t slide forward and quickly becomes uncomfortable.
Other Cars to Consider
2017 Chevrolet Sonic — Available as a hatchback or a sedan, the tiny Chevy Sonic touts excellent fuel economy and a peppy driving experience. The iA has a nicer interior, though.
2017 Ford Fiesta — The tiny Fiesta is offered in hatchback or sedan guise. Available with a fuel-saving 3-cylinder engine and a lot of tech, the Fiesta is a good alternative to the iA.
2017 Honda Fit — It’s only available as a hatchback, but when you’re dealing with a car this small, that can be a good thing. Especially when you consider the Fit’s back seat and cargo space challenges that of some small SUVs. It’s also reliable and great to drive.
Used Mazda3 — If you like the iA’s styling and upscale interior but want more space, consider the larger Mazda3. You’ll find many familiar switches and buttons in the larger Mazda and you’ll get more features, but a higher base price means you may have to consider a used model instead of a new one.
There’s only one trim level, so we can only recommend so much. Among the two transmissions, the manual will get the most out of the tiny engine, but unlike the regular Yaris, at least the iA has a capable automatic transmission choice. Find a Toyota Yaris iA for sale