2015 Toyota Yaris Review

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2017
The Car Connection
2017
The Car Connection

The Car Connection Expert Review

Bengt Halvorson Bengt Halvorson Deputy Editor

The 2015 Toyota Yaris gets an eye-catching new face, spruced-up interior trims, and a somewhat quieter interior, but it lags behind the current crop of U.S.-market subcompacts in many ways.

The 2015 Toyota Yaris isn't the company's smallest model, but it is Toyota's lowest-priced car. The Yaris slots below the best-selling Corolla and Camry sedans. With some overlap with the same-sized Scion xD and Toyota Prius C hybrid the Yaris takes a more traditional tack on what a small car should be.

Overall, though, the 2015 Toyota Yaris ends up feeling a little lost in the 1990s, when a small economical engine, a low sticker price, and great maneuverability were together enough to appease budget-strapped commuters. The Yaris remains a competent subcompact hatchback, yet one with very little that causes it to stand out above other subcompacts in this increasingly competitive market segment.

Thanks to some design work originating in France, where the Yaris is built for the U.S., this model is more visually appealing, and it gets even more suave, sharp, and Euro-influenced for 2015. The overarching design has been preserved—tall yet nicely proportioned from the side, in either three- or five-door versions—the Yaris gets new detailing, with new hood sculpting, a swooping line of brightwork around a large Toyota emblem, and a larger trapezoidal grille with new black ‘mesh’ design texturing—results in a visual sum that isn’t just bolder, as Toyota likes to point out, but more flamboyant and original, as we see it. Inside, the cabin remains far more stylish and practical than previous Yaris generations (yes, we've *almost* forgotten about the center-mounted gauge cluster of its predecessor). The 2015 revamp also brings soft-touch materials to the instrument panel, a new sport gauge cluster for the SE, and new metallic and chrome accent trim throughout.

Overall, the interior impresses as refreshingly straightforward and intuitive next to the gimmicky interior layouts of some other models in this class. The dash has horizontal, shelf-like lines and the controls are simple, cheerful, and easy to understand. There’s also a large cohort of built-in storage spaces, in the form of trays, cupholders, bins, and the like—including a long tray at the bottom of the dash for the passenger.

As impressive as the styling is in reaching out of the comfort zone of Camry and Corolla, it's what's under the hood that lets down the whole package. The only engine offered in the 2015 Toyota Yaris is a 106-horsepower 1.5-liter four-cylinder. Even compared to much of what's now offered in this class, it's remarkably low-tech—no direct-injection or turbocharging here—and trying to access its power zone will feel a lot like you're behind the wheel of a 1990s econocar again. Performance is relatively tepid, and that's if you shift your own gears with the standard five-speed manual gearbox. The four-speed automatic that most will pick is one of the only ones left on the market, with a painfully wide gap between third and fourth gear as it seems, while competitors from Chevrolet, Ford, Honda, and Nissan have five- or six-speed automatics or continuously-variable transmissions (CVTs)—with better fuel-efficiency ratings reflecting the newer technology.

Once you're underway and in the right gear, the 2015 Yaris feels light; and at around 2,300 pounds (it's about 20 pounds lighter yet this year), it's one of the lighter subcompacts on the market. This year also brings suspension improvements that include softer springs, a stiffer torsion beam in back, and stiffer shocks altogether, plus some other engineering improvements. The Yaris has better electric power steering than many other Toyotas, while the Yaris SE in particular has a stiffer suspension and thicker anti-sway bars, which deliver flatter handling without much impact on ride comfort, which is good. Brakes on all models work well, and the pedal is firmer and less mushy than in some competitors. If you want rear disc brakes, they're the exclusive domain of the Yaris SE.

The interior is best described as straightforward but unremarkable. Storage space inside is good, and the front seats are comfortable and supportive, with plenty of room. Rear seats are a different story; they're smaller than those in many competitors, particularly the Nissan Versa Note, and the Yaris is more usable for two adults than for four. Neither cargo space nor flexibility are as good as the perennial class leader, the Honda Fit. Ride quality is even better than it was, though, and with more sound insulation for 2015, the Yaris is now a relatively quiet cruiser—if you're not pushing the engine.

Toyota has bolstered the Yaris structure somewhat for 2015, although it doesn't qualify as anything completely new, so we're not sure if it will be retested by either of the U.S. safety agencies. IIHS and federal crash-test results have been a mixed bag.

There are essentially just three factory builds of the 2015 Toyota Yaris: the base L, the mid-level LE, and the sporty SE. But the bright side is that there really isn’t much to bump the sticker price all that higher. Top SE models are the ones that really stand out; they add 16-inch machined-finish alloy wheels, rear disc brakes, projector-beam headlights, LED daytime running lamps, a black front grille, a rear spoiler, upgraded seats with sport fabric, a sport instrument cluster, and leather trim for the steering wheel and shift lever.

For 2015, even base L versions of the Yaris include a split-folding rear seat and height-adjustable driver's seat—both items that were only in the upper trims last year—and all 2015 Yaris models gain an Entune Audio system that has a 6.1-inch touch screen, HD Radio, a USB port, an auxiliary input, voice recognition, and Bluetooth audio streaming—complementing Bluetooth hands-free calling. At every trim level you get six speakers; you can now add navigation as a dealer- or port-installed option, although it's worth noting that Yaris models don't get the Entune App Suite connectivity now offered on most other Toyota models.

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September 22, 2015
2015 Toyota Yaris 3-Door Liftback Manual L (Natl)

Our Yaris is an excellent commuter car that is completely reliable and economic.

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Our current Yaris is our third Yaris. It is a 2011 model 3 door hatchback. We currently have 93,109 miles on it and we've never had any problems. We drive it hard and fast, 65-75+mph routinely, and have never... + More »
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April 14, 2016
2016 Toyota Yaris 5-Door Liftback Manual SE (GS)

Very good balance between quality and comfort.

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To be my first Toyota, this model (called ETIOS in my Country) is a very well done car.
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February 12, 2017
For 2014 Toyota Yaris

Watch for blind spots

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Overal love this vehicle, it's comfy and compact yet spacious, however there is one issue that has been creating problems with blind spots on many occasions. The frame around the windshield on the drivers side... + More »
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February 12, 2017
2014 Toyota Yaris 3-Door Liftback Automatic L (TMC/CBU Plant) (GS)

Good low priced reliable economy car

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I've had the car for a year, bought it used , and so far it's been very reliable. Gas mileage is in the low 30s in city driving and 40 to 45 mpg hwy. at low highway speeds. The car is basic, but came with... + More »
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April 19, 2015
For 2012 Toyota Yaris

Great city car!

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I really wanted a prius c but as that was too dear I bought a 5spd manual Yaris. In the year I've had it it hasn't let me down. I look forward to driving it and now that I'm used to manual I find it a pleasure... + More »
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June 14, 2015
2011 Toyota Yaris 3-Door Liftback Automatic (SE)

As with my 1980 Toyota Celica it is a heck of a quality vehicle!

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Fit and finish of exterior and interior materials far exceed that of cars rated equaly for the same class. It takes a beating and keeps on ticking...(TIMEX)
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February 27, 2016
For 2010 Toyota Yaris

Even better than our 2007 Yaris

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The car has everything we liked about our first (2007) Yaris plus some more modern features. The ABS and traction control give the car even better performance in snow as compared to the 2007. Side curtain... + More »
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July 14, 2015
2008 Toyota Yaris 3-Door HB Manual (SE)

Really good basic car

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My Yaris was purchased as a replacement for my '02 VW Beetle Turbo Sport. Overall, I am happy with it as a replacement. The only things I really miss from the VW are the turbo and the sunroof. I have had to... + More »
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April 22, 2015
2007 Toyota Yaris 3-Door HB Manual (SE)

Most satisfying car I've ever owned.

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Although a small car for a large guy I have adequate room - especially headroom. The gas mileage keeps improving as the car gets older - we've been getting over 40 mpg overall during the non-winter months... + More »
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