2015 Toyota Yaris: Small,sporty, and yeah–even a bit sexier

8 Jul 2015 | 831 views | No Comment
By Don Hammonds Toyota's tiny Yaris is looking pretty good these days. Thanks to a sporty new appearance package and a makeover of the interior, which called for replacing the old controversial off center dashboard gauges, with a more conventional yet contemporary design, the Yaris is a lot more able to compete effectively in today's growing city car market segment. The exterior redesign is particularly noteworthy up front. 2015_Toyota_Yaris_SE_002 The new design is one of the best ones in this market, and strongly resembles the family grill design that Toyota now uses. It looks sporty, racy and with a blacked out grille element, appears right up to date. The full impact makes the Yaris  strongly resemble Fiat's sexy little 500, though there are enough differences that you won't get it mixed with Fiat's pride and joy. It's actually kind of sexy and fun to scoot around in. Add Toyota's legendary toughness and reliability, and you've got a pretty good urban car. The 2015 Yaris comes in two and three door liftback (hatchback) versions, and in L, LE, SE versions, with prices starting at $14,845 and climbing to $17,620 for a fully equipped SE Liftback with a four speed automatic. More about that later. Gas mileage is 30/35 city to 30/37 highway, depending on type of transmission. That figure for mileage is quite competitive, and bests some of the other competition. But by sticking with a outmoded four speed automatic, the company is missing out on a potential selling point--the possibility of even higher mileage with the extra gears. Lets hope Toyota decides to change that and go with a six speed version instead. Now about that 106 horsepower, four cylinder engine.  It's peppy and lots of fun to drive--until you have to punchy it to blend into highway traffic, or, as is the case here in Pittsburgh, head up hills. Hills prompted the little Yaris to become the Little Engine That Could, like the much loved children's story, but it really had to chugga chug like crazy to make it. Inside, you'll find way better materials for the 2015 Yaris than you ever saw with the previous models.  But what really shocked us was that the Yaris was actually pretty roomy. You will even be able to fit two people in the back seat. Standard safety features include antilock brakes (rear drums for all models except the SE, which gets four-wheel discs), traction and stability control, active front head restraints, front seat side airbags, front and rear side curtain airbags, front seat cushion airbags and a driver knee airbag. 2015_Toyota_Yaris_SE_004 Worried about safety since the Yaris is so tiny?  Don't fret. The government rated the Yaris four-door hatchback rated the Yaris four out of five stars for  overall crash protection, with four stars for frontal-impact protection and five stars for side-impact protection. The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety gave the Yaris hatchback a high rating of  "Good"  in its moderate-overlap frontal-offset, side-impact, roof strength and head restraint (whiplash protection) tests. But for the  small-overlap frontal offset test, the Yaris scored a second-lowest (out of four) "Marginal" rating. We found the Yaris to be a hard-to-beat ride for city driving---and you'll have a lot of fun to boot.

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