IT’S A BEST BUY BECAUSE:
With its commendable fuel-economy figures, generous level of standard equipment, affordable pricing, and fun-to-drive character, the Toyota Yaris iA is a subcompact-class standout.
Rear-seat space is tight, the sedan body isn’t quite as cargo-versatile as a 4-door hatchback configuration, and the hyper-assertive grille design is a love-it-or-hate-it styling quirk.
The Yaris iA is the product of a partnership between Toyota and Mazda; it’s essentially a re-trimmed version of the current-generation Mazda 2 sedan, which isn’t being sold in the U.S.
WHAT IS IT?
The Toyota Yaris iA is a subcompact 4-door sedan that debuted for 2016 as the Scion iA. With Toyota’s discontinuation of its youth-market Scion division for 2017, the iA lives on as a Toyota. (Likewise, the Scion iM, a compact four-door hatchback that debuted alongside the iA last year, is renamed Toyota Corolla iM.) The Yaris iA’s basic architecture and mechanical layout are mostly standard fare for the subcompact class, but its swoopy body shapes and gaping-maw grille are anything but conventional.
Also unconventional is the generous list of standard equipment. Despite its rebranding as a Toyota, the iA sticks to its previous Scion-style simplified model lineup, with no trim levels or factory options other than transmission choice and dealer-installed accessories. Among the Yaris iA’s unexpected standard features are a rearview camera, automatic climate control, cruise control, keyless entry with push-button start, 7-inch multimedia touchscreen, voice recognition, connected services (including Aha, Pandora, and Stitcher), and a low-speed pre-collision system. That last item is a forward-collision warning and mitigation feature that works at speeds below 18 mph; it can apply the brakes automatically to avoid or mitigate a front-end impact.
The lone engine is a 1.5-liter 4-cylinder that puts out 106 horsepower. The Yaris iA is no ball of fire, but it’s on par with most subcompact contenders. Plus, its Mazda-sourced architecture and tidy dimensions mean that the Yaris iA is quite nimble and entertaining on twisty roads.
Naturally, the iA swaps its Scion badges for Toyota emblems, but otherwise sees no significant changes.
The Yaris iA’s EPA fuel-economy estimates are admirable. It’s rated at 30 mpg city/39 highway with the 6-speed manual transmission, and 32 city/40 highway with the 6-speed automatic. In Consumer Guide® testing, an iA with the automatic averaged 35.3 in 65-percent city driving.
VALUE IN CLASS
By any name, the Toyota Yaris iA is a formidable contender in the subcompact category. Chief among its strengths are excellent fuel economy numbers, rare-for-the-segment standard equipment, a pleasant interior, lively on-road demeanor, and very competitive pricing. In this class and price strata, the simple, no-fuss pricing structure holds a lot of appeal as well. If you’re cool with its in-your-face face, the Yaris iA is a clear-cut subcompact winner.