2015 Toyota Yaris Review
Quick: name the only Toyota (or Lexus) that is imported to the US from Europe?
The header here is a solid clue. It is indeed the 2015 Yaris.
Designed and built in Europe, the land of hot hatch excellence and cheap/cheerful mini cars, the Yaris embodies all the frisky spirit of the Fiat 500 or the MINI Cooper — but with a giant discount.
The 2015 Yaris hopes to sell on more the efficiency and low entry pricing, however. It brings a full suspension redesign, a cabin upgrade and even funky LED lighting on some top-line trims.
We really like the 2015 Yaris in person. Objectively speaking, it is a far cuter car than the Fiat 500 — which is a pretty catfish-looking thing without knowing what the original looked like.
The new Yaris is defined by its flowing waterfall grille in contrast black. Even the cheapest Yaris trims have this cool and fresh look on their side, but it takes the SE or the LE to nab the upgraded projector-beam lights and quad-LED accents on both sides.
Together, the latest lighting forms a distinctly premium look at night, and this new nose widens the Yaris pretty convincingly on the road.
The Yaris looks low and sporty and playful on its wider wheels for 2015, while the five-door bodyshell is incorporated effortlessly. It really does look better than the 500 — which is a tiny two-door only.
Out back, a new lower backup light element is a unique touch, and firms the new appearance with blocky side lamps very well indeed. A mini exhaust pipe pokes out from behind a diffuser element, while the hatch is a full-sized extra door to enter the trunk area.
The way-back is not huge at about 16-cubic-feet, but the real packaging miracle comes in the back seat actually having decent legroom. For such a city-friendly car, that is no small achievement.
Where the scale comes back into play is in cabin width, where the Yaris is an elbow-bumping affair. With the five-speed manual shifter, expect to grab some passenger knee every once and a while by accident. Fun on dates, less fun among dudes.
But there will be ample style, sound dampening and stereo functionality to dull the intimacy a bit. All Yaris models pack touchscreen audio and Entune Bluetooth for 2015, which is a major advantage of this new car versus a pre-owned something.
The latest dash shape is a bit more endearing overall, and the extra padding all around is welcome in this economy segment.
Check out the drive video above to enjoy some full-throttle action in the new Yaris SE with the manual transmission. It will bring a smile and sounds pretty eager overall with a snorty exhaust note to thrum through the redline with. Is it a rocket-ship of speed? No, it is not.
But the Yaris does handle brilliantly with its clever rear suspension and firm steering imparting MINI Cooper-style confidence and fling-ability. This is one for threading past slow-moving SUVs with ease.
Sporty new looks? Check.
Fun and fresh colors to brighten your day? Check.
Thoroughly modern Entune touchscreen audio system as standard? Check.
Overall, the Yaris is the fun and playful kid in the Toyota lineup, with pricing from just $14,000 to the as-tested price of $17,000. The Yaris might not be as big as the Nissan Sentra or Chevy Sonic, but it handles better and is more fun in the corners. European styling and handling precision, plus serious Toyota reliability and real-world pricing that is a cool $10,000 less than the Fiat 500 or MINI?
That is a niche the Yaris SE five-door proudly owns for 2015.
Tom Burkart is the founder and managing editor of Car-Revs-Daily.com, an innovative and rapidly-expanding automotive news magazine.
He holds a Journalism JBA degree from the University of Wisconsin – Madison. Tom currently resides in Charleston, South Carolina with his two amazing dogs, Drake and Tank.
Mr. Burkart is available for all questions and concerns by email Tom(at)car-revs-daily.com.