With last year's redesign the Toyota Yaris got a number of things that improve comfort and functionality--including a retuned suspension, improved seats, and a better instrument-panel design.
Whether as a three-door or five-door Liftback, the Yaris is sized for tight city streets, and that means that you trade off quite a bit of interior space in the name of maneuverability and parking ease. While front-seat accommodations are right on par with vehicles a class larger, like the Corolla, what you give up is some back-seat space.
Front seats (admittedly, the SE's “exclusive sport seats”) feel much improved compared to what you got before in the Yaris, or what you get in the Nissan Versa. They're somewhat wider and noticeably longer, and have a little bit of natural contouring and side support, and they no longer feel like short benches, cutting off circulation to the thighs. But we did note that the fabric acted as a lint brush of sorts to our clothes, collecting stray pet hair and the like. In either of the Yaris models, there's a relatively high seating position, yet with enough spare headroom for taller drivers. One oversight that could be a deal-breaker for some driver sizes is that there's no telescopic steering adjustment.
Rear seatbacks fold forward, although not fully flat, and the cargo floor isn't nearly as low as that in the Honda Fit. Cargo space is a respectable 15.3 cubic feet, though--even if you don't fold down the seats, plenty for a modest grocery run.
There's a lot to like in the new instrument panel and dash design, which includes several well-placed bins for storage--including one good for a wallet or smartphone just ahead and to the left of the driver. Ahead of the front passenger is a shallow shelf--with no texturing at the bottom, leaving whatever small items are placed there to slide back and forth.
Last year's changes lengthened the Yaris' wheelbase somewhat, and that, combined with a retuned suspension, brought better ride quality than the previous model--or much of the subcompact alternatives, for that matter--with less of the bobbing motion that you might have grown to loathe in small cars. Unfortunately there are modest amounts of road and wind noise inside, and above 3,000 rpm or above 70 mph the engine note becomes a coarse presence inside the cabin.