2017 Toyota Yaris iA Review

2017 Toyota Yaris iA - The entry level appeal of the 2017 Toyota Yaris iA.


If the 2017 Toyota Yaris iA looks somewhat familiar, that is because it was formerly known as the Scion iA. Parent company Toyota discontinued the Scion brand in 2016, and moved the iA over into the Yaris lineup and is sold alongside the original Yaris hatchback in showrooms.

That bit of information will help, as a visit to a new car dealership for a buyer of modest means can be intimidating. The show floor is covered by vehicles costing $20,000 to $50,000 and the buyer only wants an inexpensive sedan or hatchback for the family. The wife might say to the husband, or vice versa, "Is there anything we can afford here?"

The answer is "Yes there is."

They are not sedans in the midsize or large class of sedans. Neither are they in the compact class, where prices can begin at $18,000 but swiftly increase to $25,000 or more. Examples of these are the Honda Civic and Toyota Corolla.

There are vehicles in the subcompact class of sedans or hatchbacks where prices begin and end before the $20,000 plateau is reached.

The list of these front-wheel-drive compacts is fairly lengthy. They include Nissan Versa, Chevrolet Spark, Hyundai Veloster, Ford Fiesta with the three-cylinder engine, Kia Rio, Honda Fit, Mitsubishi Mirage and a recently tested Toyota Yaris iA.

Engines are small, seating is tight and fuel economy is tremendous. In fuel usage, engines average in the mid to upper 30s of miles per gallon of gasoline usage in the city and in the mid to high 40s mpg on the highway. The light (2,385 pounds) Yaris iA averaged 33 mpg in combined city and highway driving with two adults aboard. Weather and road conditions were not factors. The Environmental Protection Agency rates the car at 30 mpg city, 39 mpg highway (driver only aboard).

Toyota's $15,950 Yaris iA is typical of what a buyer can expect from a subcompact car. A 1.5-liter, 106-horsepower, four-cylinder engine is the only engine offered, and it comes mated to a six-speed manual transmission. A dealer can install an automatic six-speed and the price still will not exceed $17,050 for this four-door sedan with a 13-cubic-foot trunk which rides on 16-inch, five-spoke alloy (not steel) wheels supporting all-season tires. A temporary spare is stored under the trunk floor.

A chrome tip for the exhaust is one of the high notes on the design side along with alloy wheels, wraparound halogen headlights and a barely discernible spoiler on the trunk lid. For the most part, the iA is a plain Jane sedan.

Do not expect attributes such as a navigation system, satellite radio, leather trim, sunroof, power and heated front seats, four power express windows, stop-start and hill-hold technology, pulldown rear seat armrest, moon or sunroof in this $15,950 entry-level car. Several of these features can be installed as options. Nor does the iA have front seat armrests.

Even so, the iA offers much to commend it to entry-level buyers, such as keyless remote entry, pushbutton start, cruise control, air conditioning, upgrade fabric trim, Bluetooth hands-free phone with voice recognition, intermittent windshield wipers plus rear window defogger, rear view backup camera, power exterior mirrors, door locks and front windows (driver's express up and down), and a  six speaker sound system for AM-FM radio, two auxiliary ports, iPod connection, plus Pandora, Aha and Stitcher audio.

Besides antilock brakes, air bags in front, front sides and overhead for two rows, stability control and brake force assist/distribution; the iA has a low speed pre-collision system and tire pressure monitor.

For a small sedan, the trunk is huge at 13 cubic feet, the ride is tolerable if not splendid, the sound and climate controls are simple and easy to operate, and the pricing is attractive.

2017 Toyota Yaris iA
Type: five-passenger, four-door subcompact sedan
Price: $15,950
Engine: 1.5-liter, 106-horsepower four-cylinder
Transmission: six-speed manual
Fuel: regular
Fuel tank: 11.6 gallons
Wheelbase: 101.2 inches
Length: 171.7 inches
Width: 66.7 inches
Height: 58.5 inches
Ground clearance: 5.5 inches
Leg room: 41.9 inches front, 34.4 inches rear
Trunk: 13 cubic feet
Tires, wheels: 16-inch
Brakes: ventilated discs front, drums rear
Turning curb-to-curb: 32.2 feet
Suspension: struts front, torsion beam rear
Warranty: three years or 36,000 miles with roadside assistance, five years or 60,000 miles powertrain
Assembly: Salamanca, Mexico
Information: www.toyota.com/yarisia

M.J. Frumkin and J.E. Kuyper

M. J. Frumkin and J. E. Kuyper covered the auto industry for decades. Frumkin was with Consumer Guide for 14 years, has authored four books and co-authored three more. He is also the historian/archivist for the Chicago Automobile Trade Association/Chicago Auto Show. Kuyper has been an automotive writer, editor and columnist for newspapers in the Chicago area the past 25 years. His reviews currently appear in the daily Northwest Herald newspaper. Frumkin and Kuyper are founding members of the Midwest Automotive Media Association.