Often overlooked Toyota's little Yaris Hatchback is a little car that carries on the tradition of dead-reliable, efficient, uncomplaining little cars.
For 2017, the Yaris receives additional standard equipment in the form of the new Safety Sense C package. Standard on all models - including the bare-bones base trim - it includes pre-collision warning and mitigation, lane-departure warning, and automatic high beams as standard. The laser-based system is also able to apply the brakes, slowing the car if an impact is deemed unavoidable. Combined with standard stability control and nine standard airbags, and the Yaris has safety covered from an active and a passive perspective.
Also new this year is a second two-tone paint option, consisting of Barcelona Red with a pearl-finish black roof.
The French-built Yaris Hatchback is available in three-door and five-door forms. The base trim level is CE for the three-door, and LE for the five-door. A sporty SE trim with 16-inch alloy wheels, sport-tuned steering, and suspension, and other amenities is offered exclusively in the five-door body style. A four-door Yaris Sedan is also offered, but is unrelated. It is a Mazda-designed and built product.
From a mechanical standpoint, the Yaris Hatchback favours simplicity over technology. Under the hood is a 106-horsepower, 103 lb-ft of torque 1.5-litre four-cylinder engine. No turbos, no fancy direct fuel injection here, just tried and tested variable valve timing. Transmissions are equally as simple - a shift-it-yourself five-speed manual with a featherweight clutch or a four-speed automatic transmission.
While the Yaris is one of the segment's lighter cars, it isn't as fuel-efficient as some of its rivals. 7.7 L/100 km city and 6.3 highway is nonetheless very reasonable for the manual model, with the automatic consuming 7.8 L/100 km city and 6.6 highway.
Simplicity is the name of the game for the Yaris's cabin. Excellent visibility, helped by a huge windshield (wiped by a comedically large single wiper) and a low beltline make for easy city driving is a boon, as is the car's general simplicity. The standard 6.1-inch touchscreen audio system offers USB and Bluetooth connectivity, and the driver faces an instrument cluster that's as simple as simple can be. Hard plastics abound, but such is to be expected in a car of this price range. A telescoping steering column is not offered. The base CE trim does not come with air conditioning; it's standard on LE and SE trims.
While the Yaris offers a sporty SE trim grade with improved fabrics, soft-touch dash panel, and other interior fripperies, you'll need to look elsewhere for leather upholstery, heated front seats, and push-button start. Cargo space is good, with standard 60/40 split folding rear seats, but trails the Honda Fit with its innovative Magic Seats.
Pricing for the 2017 Yaris starts at $15,395 for the base CE three-door and tops out at $19,430 for the SE with automatic.