2017 Toyota Yaris Review

2017 Toyota Yaris - The 2017 Toyota Yaris iA is a decent small sedan for the budget-minded.


 Prices: $15,950-$17,050

Not to sound confusing, but the 2017 Toyota Yaris iA is built by Mazda and is based on the new Mazda 2, which isn't sold in America. Also, this Toyota is really last year's iA model from Toyota's discontinued Scion division.

The subcompact Yaris iA's background really isn't important because this an affordable, economical small four-door sedan for the budget minded who want a fairly well-equipped nicely built car with some flair.

The front-drive iA comes in L, LE and sporty SE trim levels, with a six-speed manual or six-speed automatic transmission. It lists at $15,900 with the manual and $17,050 with the automatic. Freight is an extra $865.

The Mexican-built iA has a sophisticated 1.5-liter four-cylinder with such things as double overhead camshafts, direct injection and 16 valves. The high-revving engine kicks out 106 horsepower at 6,000 r.p.m. and 103 pound/feet of torque at 4,200 r.p.m.

There's either a six-speed manual transmission or a six-speed automatic.

I tested the $15,900 model with the manual, which shifts slickly and works with a clutch that's smooth with a linear action but long throw.

Estimated fuel economy is 30 miles per gallon in the city and 39 on highways and just a bit less with the automatic. Only 87-octane fuel is required, and an 11.1-gallon fuel tank should help assure few filling station stops.

Acceleration is lively, partly because the iA only weighs approximately 2,300 pounds. The lower gears provide quick in-town moves and third or fourth gears provide decent passing above 65 m.p.h. on highways. Fifth and sixth are overdrive gears that will leave you flat-footed for anything but steady cruising.

No iA with an automatic was available.

The iA has an aggressive looking front end with its large grille and clean lines. Its high belt line caused me to stick my elbow up at an awkward angle when I stuck it out the window during leisurely in-town driving. But why bother driving with an open window on a warm day when air conditioning is standard?

The interior is roomy, but a tall passenger behind the driver will want more legroom. The rear seat center is too stiff for comfort. The quality of cabin materials is above average, and it's quiet in there except for some tire noise.

However, the console cupholders are set a little too far back for easy access, and cabin storage space is just average.

Supportive front seats can encourage sporty driving. So can the iA's quick steering, nimble handling and easily modulated brakes. The ride is generally supple, although some medium-size and large bumps can be felt.

Besides "air," standard items include large color-keyed power outside mirrors with LED turn signals, remote keyless entry, power windows and door locks, a power 6-way driver's seat, adjustable front passenger seat, AM/FM/HD radio with 8 speakers, push-button start, cruise control, tilt-telescopic wheel with audio controls and 60/40 split-folding rear seat backs.

The split seat backs have trunk releases to discourage thieves from getting into the trunk from the back seat. The seat backs significantly increase cargo space, although the pass-through area from the trunk to the rear seat area could be larger. The trunk is fairly roomy for a small car and has a low, wide opening.

The 7-inch color touchscreen takes some time to master. The large manual climate controls are welcome because they're easy to adjust while just momentarily taking taking eyes from the road.

However, my test car's tiny digital tachometer was difficult to read and couldn't be seen at all during late afternoon daylight hours because its readings were blocked by reflections from its surface. I thus had to listen to engine rev levels to help tell me when to upshift and downshift.

Advanced safety items once couldn't be had on a fairly low-cost entry level car, but the Yaris iA has low-speed pre-collision and stability control systems, anti-lock brakes with electronic brake force distribution, front air bags and side curtain bags.

The heavy hood is held up with a prop rod instead of a hydraulic strut but, after all, Toyota wanted to keep this car's list price below $18,000.

Dan Jedlicka

Dan Jedlicka's Website

Dan Jedlicka joined the Chicago Sun-Times in February 1968 as a business news reporter and was named auto editor later that year. He has reviewed more than 4,000 new vehicles for the Sun-Times--far more than any newspaper auto writer in the country. Jedlicka also reviewed vehicles for Microsoft Corp.'s MSN Autos Internet site from January, 1996, to June, 2008.

Jedlicka remained auto editor at the Sun-Times until October, 2008, and continued writing for the newspaper's AutoTimes section, which he started in 1992, until February, 2009. While continuing his auto writings at the Sun-Times, he served as assistant financial editor of that newspaper from 1970 to 1973, when he began his automotive column.

He has appeared on numerous radio and television shows, including NBC's "Today," ABC's "20/20" and "The CBS Evening News." He was a host, consultant and writer for Fox-TV Channel 32's 1991 New Car Preview show and that Chicago-based station's 1992, 1993, 1994 and 1995 Chicago Auto Show Previews.

Jedlicka's auto articles have been printed in national magazines, including Esquire and Harper's. His auto columns have been reprinted in U.S. government publications and economic textbooks and he is profiled in the "World's Greatest Auto Show" history book about the Chicago Auto Show. In late 1975, Jedlicka was host and technical advisor for three one-hour television specials, "Auto Test 76," which aired nationally on PBS and were the first nationally televised auto road test shows.

In 1995, Jedlicka was the recipient of the Better Business Bureau of Chicago and Northern Illinois Inc.'s Consumer Education Award, given annually to a person who has gained distinction in the field of consumer education. He received a Lifetime Achievement Award in the Media category and inducted into the Legends of Motorsports Guild at the Carquest World of wheels custom car show in Chicago in January, 2006.

Jedlicka was a member of the North American Car and Truck of the Year jury, composed of a select number of auto journalists from throughout the country, from 1995 until 2009. From 2010 to 2012, he was a member of Consumer Digest magazine's auto experts panel that gave Best Buy new vehicle recommendations.

He is a 1987 graduate of the Bob Bondurant Race Drivers School and later of the BMW "M" and Skip Barber Advanced Driving schools. He was a member of the U.S. team that participated in the 1987 1,000-mile Mille Miglia race/rally in Italy and has been a race winner at the Chicago area's Santa Fe Speedway.

Jedlicka has owned 25 classic cars, including 1950s and 1960s Ferraris and 1950s and 1960s Porsches, a 1965 Corvette, a 1967 Maserati and a 1957 Studebaker supercharged Golden Hawk. Jedlicka resides with his wife, Suzanne, in the Frank Lloyd Wright historic district of Oak Park. They have two children, James and Michele.

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