The Toyota Yaris iA sure gets around.
It started life as a Mazda2, which never reached the U.S. market; danced over to Toyota’s entry-level Scion line as one of its more highly rated models, and supplanted the Toyota Yaris sedan after Scion was discontinued in 2016. Assembled in Mexico, the Yaris iA sports Toyota logos on the hood, trunk and steering-wheel hub, but the word “Toyota” appears nowhere except on the cover of the owner’s manual. The iA has a similar look to other compact and subcompact Toyotas, but a radically different personality. As such, it continues in the role Toyota originally envisioned for the Scion brand — bringing young drivers into the fold.
Thanks to its Mazda DNA, the Yaris iA corners crisply and provides plenty of road feel. Its ride is on the stiff side, but otherwise, it’s more fun to drive than most cars in its market sector. The engine is rated at just 106 horsepower, but the 6-speed automatic transmission wrings maximum performance from the little 1.5-liter inline Four. To provide the most engaging driving experience, Toyota offers a 6-speed manual transmission.
We liked the seating position — with leg room sufficient for a 6-footer — and the 40-mpg highway fuel economy. The Yaris iA also has a standard-equipment list comparable with those offered by the Korean automakers. These included a rear-view camera; halogen headlights; cruise control; 7-inch color touch screen; an audio system that could be operated by use of a dial between the front seats; hands-free phone and music streaming via Bluetooth; connected service suite with Pandora, Aha and Stitcher audio; power windows and locks; push-button start; and tilt-telescopic steering wheel with audio controls.
The Yaris iA’s trunk is fairly roomy for a subcompact car at 13.5 cubic feet, but some buyers will judge the Yaris hatchback – though quite unlike the iA sedan in personality – more versatile. Room in the iA’s back seat is tight, too.
The base Yaris iA, with stick shift, starts at $15,950. Our test car had a sticker price of $17,915, including delivery, processing and handling fee. It had no optional equipment. A number of desirable features, such as satellite radio, all-wheel drive and blind-spot warning system, are unavailable.
Among the Yaris iA’s major competitors are the Honda Fit, Hyundai Accent, Kia Rio, Chevrolet Sonic and Ford Fiesta.
The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety rated the Yaris iA a Top Safety Pick. The Yaris hatchback, which delivered marginal performance in the institute’s small-overlap crash test, did not achieve Top Safety Pick status. It ranges in price from $15,250 to $17,285, and can be selected in 3-door or 5-door configurations. The next step up is the venerable compact Corolla – which, like the Yaris, is available in traditional Toyota trim or as a rebadged Scion iM. (We test-drove an iM last year and were favorably impressed with it.)
Steven Macoy (email@example.com) is a longtime car enthusiast and full-time editor who lives in Bethel, Conn.
2017 Toyota Yaris iA
Engine: 1.5-liter inline Four, 106 horsepower, 103 lb.-ft. torque
Transmission: 6-speed shiftable automatic
Weight: 2,416 lb.
Suspension: MacPherson strut front, torsion beam rear
Wheels: 16-in. alloy
Tires: 185/60R16 all-season
Seating capacity: 5
Luggage capacity: 13.5 cu. ft.
Fuel capacity: 11.6 gal.
Fuel economy: 32 mpg city, 40 mpg highway
Fuel type: Regular unleaded gasoline