The 2015 Toyota Yaris gets a mid-cycle refresh that improves on the entry-level subcompact by giving it European styling in an affordable package.
The subcompact car market is a crowded one that includes the popular Honda Fit, Ford Fiesta, and Nissan Versa Note to name a few, so manufacturers have to keep their little cars fresh and new if they don’t want to be left out. Toyota understands this so they’ve given the Yaris a much needed refresh that makes it look thoroughly modern and trendy. It’s also very European thanks largely to being designed in France, where it is also built.
Styling changes are most noticeable when you take a look at the front end. There’s new hood sculpting, a large Toyota emblem, and a big trapezoidal grille with a black mesh design that make it downright bold. Take that emblem off the front and you won’t peg this as a Toyota at all.
The interior features more soft touch surfaces than before but this is still an economy car so don’t be expecting luxury. It is comfortable and appealing with seats that get extra bolstering up front to add to their comfort. Rear seats are narrow, but there is still enough legroom for even taller passengers to sit easily.
The overall ride is smooth without a lot of the bounce you often get in subcompacts, but it does suffer from a lack of sound deadening materials that make it very loud. Engine, road, and wind noise are all intrusive, especially at higher speeds. City dwellers won’t notice this as much, and will love that it’s small enough to wedge into the tiniest of parking spaces on tight city streets.
The Yaris is available in L, LE, and SE trims with the SE benefiting the most from this mini-makeover as the sportiest version of the lot. It gets a new fog lamp design and rear diffuser, 16″ wheels, leather-wrapped steering wheel, and is the only trim aside from the base 2-door L that is available with a manual transmission.
There is only one engine option for the 2015 Toyota Yaris and that’s the same 1.5-liter 4-cylinder that it’s had for quite awhile now. There’s nothing fancy about this tried and true engine with no supercharging or direct-injection which make it feel a little old-fashioned. It provides 106 horsepower and 103 lb-ft of torque in a car that comes in at about 2,300 pounds making it something of a lightweight. Unfortunately, that’s not enough to make up for an engine that lags behind the others in its class.
The aging 4-speed automatic does not hold up well compared to the 5- and 6- speeds you’ll find in the competition. The situation is made better by the available 5-speed manual, but as we mentioned, you can only get this in the absolute lowest base model L or the sporty SE with nothing but the automatic on the trims in between. The automatic’s shifts are somewhat harsh, power is desperately wanting on the highway, and even fuel economy numbers are hit by this outdated engine. It’s rated 30/36/32 city/highway/combined which are good numbers, but if you’re looking for a subcompact primarily for fuel economy, then those numbers will not impress.
The 2015 Toyota Yaris earns an overall 4-stars from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) and comes with 9 airbags and a full suite of safety features as a part of its Star Safety System. This includes vehicle stability control, traction control, anti-lock brakes, electronic brake-force distribution, brake assist, and smart stop technology. One safety feature that it’s missing is a rear view camera which isn’t even available as an option.
The infotainment system isn’t as fancy as some, but it’s very well-designed and you won’t feel like you’re missing out on something better. The Entune Audio system includes a 6.1″ touchscreen, AM/FM, CD Player and HD Radio with 6 speakers that sound great in the little Yaris. There’s also Bluetooth with voice recognition to help keep your eyes on the road.
Pricing on the Yaris is very affordable with the base L coming in at $14,845 for the 2-door with a manual transmission. That’s downright frugal. The LE as tested came in at $17,060 and even the top tier SE starts at only $17,620. Keeping things below that $20,000 mark make this subcompact very attractive.
The 2015 Toyota Yaris presents a fresh new face that makes it a strong entry in the subcompact market and, despite an aging engine, it remains a well-equipped and economical car.
2015 Toyota Yaris
Base Price: $14,845
Price As Tested: $17,060 (not including destination charge)
- Updated Styling
- Great Pricing
- Improved Interior Quality
- Outdated Engine
- Noisy Drive
- No Rear View Camera