By Kelsey Mays on July 23, 2014
Competes with: Nissan Versa, Ford Fiesta, Chevrolet Sonic, Honda Fit
Looks like: The 2012-2014 Yaris got some Darth Vader treatment
Drivetrain: 106-hp, 1.5-liter four-cylinder with five-speed manual or four-speed automatic transmission; front-wheel drive
Hits dealerships: Aug. 3
Toyota calls the subcompact 2015 Yaris hatchback "redesigned," but it's really just a refresh of the current generation, which dates back to the 2012 model year. The 2015 model gets a lot of visual updates; chief among the updates are a reworked nose with a deeper, Darth Vader-like maw that stretches from the grille to the lower bumper.
The Sith have infiltrated Toyota, whose Avalon and refreshed Camry sport similar bumper treatments. And so it goes with the Yaris — at least the range-topping Yaris SE four-door hatchback, which is what you see in these photos Toyota released. The car also comes in base L and midlevel LE trims, which are also available in two-door hatchback form. (The SE is four-door hatch only.)
The Yaris goes on sale Aug. 3. Pricing runs from $15,670 for a two-door, stick-shift Yaris L to $18,445 for a four-door automatic Yaris SE (prices include destination). Prices for equivalent trims have increased $280 to $490 versus the 2014 Yaris, Toyota claims; this is for a car whose 2014 model placed midpack for small-car affordability.
A new grille sports a chrome line that visually continues into the headlights. Immediately below it stretches the large bumper opening, which the SE flanks with fog lights. The Yaris L has 15-inch steel wheels with plastic covers, while the LE adds 15-inch alloy wheels. The SE gets 16-inch alloys, plus LED daytime running lights and a rear spoiler.
The Yaris' shelflike dashboard carries over from last year, with straightforward climate knobs below a now-standard 6.1-inch touch-screen with HD radio, USB/iPod compatibility, six speakers and Bluetooth phone/audio streaming. Dealer-installed navigation is optional.
Power windows — previously unavailable on the Yaris L — are now standard. So are power door locks and air conditioning. The LE adds cruise control, power mirrors, steering-wheel audio controls and remote keyless entry, while the SE adds a leather-wrapped steering wheel and shift knob, sportier gauges, unique seating fabric and gloss-black interior accents.
Toyota's familiar 1.5-liter four-cylinder is back, with 106 horsepower and 103 pounds-feet of torque. It works through a five-speed manual or four-speed automatic transmission. Toyota says it retuned the Yaris' suspension, stiffened the chassis and added more sound insulation to reduce noise and smooth out the ride. SE models have a sport-tuned suspension.
The Yaris' low-30s EPA combined mileage should carry over, Toyota says. That's a few mpg short of the competitors like the 2015 Honda Fit and Nissan Versa Note.
The Yaris' nine standard airbags include front-seat cushion airbags, which deploy in a frontal collision to keep occupants from sliding under their seatbelts. Other features include the federally required antilock brakes — front discs and rear drums on the L/LE, with four-wheel discs on the SE — and an electronic stability system.
Senior Consumer Affairs Editor Kelsey Mays likes quality, reliability, safety and practicality. But he also likes a fair price. Email Kelsey