The 2014 Toyota Yaris comes in three trim levels: the base L, the mid-level LE, and the sporty SE. With the expected feature list and overall sophistication of subcompacts growing yearly, technology is particularly important for the segment. One unusual feature is its single-wiper system, using just one large articulated arm rather than the pair found on most other vehicles. It worked very well.
Every model, even the base Yaris L, now comes with a six-speaker audio system that includes HD radio, satellite radio compatibility, iPod connectivity, USB port and audio input, automatic sound leveling, and both hands-free calling and audio streaming via Bluetooth. Pairing a phone took only 30 seconds, and the hands-free microphone handled road noise well. The HD radio had some of the best sound we’ve heard, without the compression or dithering that these systems can suffer from—although HD radio reception remains quite limited. Overall, it’s an impressive package in a car with a base price around $15,000.
The Yaris L also includes power locks, air conditioning, and intermittent wipers—although the windows are hand-cranked, a rarity these days. Moving up to the mid-level Yaris LE gets you power windows and mirrors, along with cruise control, audio controls on the steering wheel, and keyless entry.
At the top of the range, the Yaris SE includes 16-inch alloy wheels, sport-tuned suspension, six-way adjustable driver's seat, sport seat fabric, fog lamps, and appearance items like a rear spoiler, a chromed exhaust, a color-keyed grille.
The Yaris doesn’t offer some features, however, in any model. Those include a navigation system, leather upholstery, or heated seats. And to our surprise, we observed that the Yaris didn’t automatically turn on the air-conditioning compressor when you turn the dial to defog.