By on November 28, 2014

???????????????????????????????

2015 promises to be a big year for Toyota. The US market is increasingly important for Japan, Inc., and that market is growing. 16.4 million new light-vehicles are expected to be sold in the US in 2014, and 2015 estimates are as high as 17 million. The updated Camry will help capture a large slice of that growth, but you need competent product across the board when every basis point counts.

Yaris sales have never led the subcompact segment, but they’ve become particularly soft lately with over 50% going to fleet buyers. The new “European flavor” of the refreshed 2015 Yaris is arriving without a moment to spare then.

Will the refresh be enough to return the Yaris to relevance, or can we still only say that “it’s a car”?

The Yaris’ changes do not represent a full redesign, but this isn’t just an aesthetic nip and tuck at the hands of the French design team either. Interior, exterior and suspension tweaks are all welcome changes to the three- and five-door hatchback configurations. The sedan layout, dead since 2012, stays buried.

???????????????????????????????

On the outside, buyers will immediately notice the new corporate fascia. A lower windshield angle, reshaped side mirrors and underbody shields aid aerodynamics. 15-in. wheels are steel on the base L trim and alloy on the LE. The SE meanwhile, receives distinctive 16-in. wheels, LED daytime running lights and piano black trim. It isn’t a dramatically more aggressive look than before, but I think the additions are cohesive in a way previous iterations of the Corolla S never managed. Amusingly, the enormous single-blade windshield wiper also returns.

???????????????????????????????

The interior is both more conventional and more functional than before. Ergonomics are better, which is to say that the cupholders are no long in front of the air vents. HVAC performance is also improved, but some popular features like heated seats aren’t available. I was genuinely impressed by the steering wheel though – the stitching was good, the leather was of decent quality considering the price point and the indents in the shape fit my hands exceptionally well.

???????????????????????????????

Perhaps the brightest aspect of the outgoing Yaris was its steering in SE configuration (Car & Driver was particularly outspoken in their praise). That steering tune is now standard across all trim levels. Chassis stiffness increases thanks to 36 additional spot welds, enabling Toyota to reduce spring rates compared to 2014. Shoppers will notice the welcome increase in compliance. The short 98.8-in. wheelbase still causes some back-and-forth pitching over expansion joints though, and large bumps upset the whole car as a unit.

On the upside, stability at speed is better than expected. Wider tires are more effective in resisting tramlining than before. The front sway bar, now solid across all trims, and stiffer torsion bar in the rear both do their part to increase the sense of precision. Overall capability won’t threaten true hot hatches like the Fiesta ST, but the package is certainly well-sorted and fun.

???????????????????????????????

Toyota says road and wind noise are both reduced thanks to 25% more sound deadening than before. I won’t dispute that. However, being that they planned on keeping the same 1.5 liter four cylinder, they should have added more. Allow me to offer a roundabout explanation:

The Honda Fit and Toyota Yaris both entered the US market in model year 2007. The Honda utilized a 1.5L inline four making 109 horsepower, while the Yaris’ 1.5 made 106. Fast-forward to 2015. Both models have been multiple times updated. The Honda now wrings 130 horses from 1.5 liters. The Toyota? Still 106.

Make sure to close the barn doors at night because you need every last horse on the road too. The engine note is pervasive at nearly all speeds, and it isn’t always pleasant. Keeping up with traffic isn’t Mission: Impossible on relatively flat terrain, but 2,500 RPM shifts won’t keep up pace during rush hour either. Whereas the Fit maximizes its engine output with a new CVT transmission, the Yaris soldiers on with the same 4-speed automatic or 5-speed manual. If you kvetched about this gearbox back in Jack’s 2013 review, you may as well copy-paste your comments here – they’re still fully relevant.

Fun fact: With yesteryear’s automatic, the EPA rates the Yaris just 1 mpg better on the highway than the four-cylinder Camry. Midsizers have certainly made greater efficiency gains than subcompacts over the last few years, but this is still a dubious distinction for the Yaris. The EPA calls for 30/32/36 with the autobox and 30/33/37 with the 5-speed manual.

???????????????????????????????

For a few buyers though, that sort of powertrain continuity could be a selling point if construed as an indicator of reliability. In that case, you’ll likely also be pleased with the ease of servicing it. Lay a newspaper on the ground under the engine bay, open the hood and stare straight down – there’s enough space around the block to read entire stories. Compared to the plastic-shrouded aggravation DIY-types frequently have to endure these days, it’s a welcome surprise.

Every change Toyota made to the Yaris was for the better, the proven powertrain will probably start every time you twist the ignition for the next 20 years and pricing increases are modest versus 2014 models. The changes barely keep pace with the segment though. This refresh is almost certainly a stopgap measure, a placeholder for the fully redesigned version being developed with Mazda. In the meantime, the 2015 Yaris is an improved vehicle whose buyers still can’t say much beyond the fact that “It’s a car”.

???????????????????????????????

Toyota provided airfare, accommodations and the tested vehicles for this review.

Get the latest TTAC e-Newsletter!

Recommended

69 Comments on “Capsule Review: 2015 Toyota Yaris...”


  • avatar
    petezeiss

    It probably won’t rust as willingly as the forthcoming Mazda-partnered one. I’d buy now if I wanted an unkillable econobox.

    Edit: Can’t really say econobox anymore; econoblob.

  • avatar
    frozenman

    Perfectly sensible transportation appliance, this is what the wise person buys, but since I’m not, a Fit would be my choice :)

  • avatar
    jmo

    “Compared to the plastic-shrouded aggravation DIY-types frequently have to endure these days”

    IIRC the primary purpose of the plastic is to control engine noise. Seems a shame to put up with that droning for 15 years before the lack of plastic pays off in a slightly easier DIY service.

    • 0 avatar
      krhodes1

      Those 3-4 nuts to remove the shroud are just sooooo incredibly difficult to deal with.

      • 0 avatar
        NoGoYo

        I remember a magazine (I forget which magazine) which embarked on a project to turn their Lexus GX470 into an off-road vehicle, and by the time they were done removing all the plastic from the body panels and under the hood they had like 50 pounds of the stuff.

        Me, unless the engine looks like a Lovecraftian nightmare, I’ll try taking the underhood plastic off.

        Speaking of shrouding, is there any engine that has fake intake plumbing built into the shrouding on top? That must be amusing.

        • 0 avatar
          Lie2me

          The plastic shrouding in my car consists of the entire cold air induction system. I don’t understand a “fake” intake under the hood. There is no reason for a style or design element there

      • 0 avatar
        Lorenzo

        It’s not that easy! You have to remove the oil dipstick and oil filler cap too.

  • avatar
    JimC2

    Let’s talk about engine rpm, in top gear, cruising on the highway. It took me some digging, but it looks like the base model Yaris with the manual transmission turns 2500-2600rpm at 60mph in top gear. The equivalent version of the Fit is 2800-2900.

    Some of us manual transmission fans actually like low rpm during highway cruise and what’s more, we don’t actually mind having to *downshift* to climb a steep grade.

    While Honda infamously doesn’t care about the gearing in the Fit, it appears that Toyota isn’t overly concerned either…

    • 0 avatar
      probert

      I could cruise all day at 80+ in a Fit with no strain, and getting near 50mpg on flat ground. Hondas are happiest at higher revs. What’s the beef?

      • 0 avatar
        JimC2

        The beef is there is no need for that engine to turn that fast to motivate that car along level roads or moderate grades- and it would get quite a bit better fuel economy with a proper highway gear ratio. It’s wasteful.

        (You would still have the choice to stay in the next highest gear to do what makes you happy.)

        • 0 avatar
          dolorean

          Correct me gentlemen if I’m wrong for I’m no engineer, but as I understand the higher revolutions, especially in a peaky little motor such as the Fit, this is its most efficient range of work. I will admit the droning of the engine can tend to make one beg for a sixth gear as I face in my lowly ’99 Astra G 5-door.

      • 0 avatar
        30-mile fetch

        50mpg at 80+mph? Are you sure about that?

        I’m used to quieter cars (by that I mean cheapo Jetta, not Lexus LS), and as such cruising all day at 80+ in either a Fit or Yaris is not something I’d describe as “no strain”. They’re loud, they’re nervous, and the engine note is not pleasant.

  • avatar
    daver277

    The plastic takes between 10 seconds and 2 minutes to R&R.

  • avatar
    psarhjinian

    You know what? I miss the centre-mount gauges and the smaller steering wheel and the tiny dash (and epic knee-room) it enabled.

    • 0 avatar
      Lorenzo

      Next you’ll want the gear selector on the steering column to eliminate the console for more footwell room, and plush split bench seats with separate arm rests. Where will it all end?

  • avatar
    King of Eldorado

    I always thought the cupholder in front of the air vent was a feature, not a bug. It’s one of the things I like about my 2011 Honda Fit. It puts the beverage a short reach from the steering wheel and away from the often-cluttered center console area, and in some likely scenarios — cold soda in summer, hot coffee in winter — it helps keep the beverage cold or hot, respectively. Otherwise, I just close the vent temporarily.

  • avatar
    River

    Fit or Yaris is a easy decision I can’t stand Toyota float.

    • 0 avatar
      wstarvingteacher

      A little bit strange to be named River and not like any sort of float. You are right. Between Yaris and Fit it’s an easy decision. Between Yaris and Versa, not so much.

  • avatar
    DeeDub

    So what does it cost?

    It looks reasonably attractive and functional, but with that sealed-in-amber drivetrain from the last millennium, I can’t see how anyone would choose it over the Fit unless there’s a significant price difference.

    • 0 avatar
      psarhjinian

      The Yaris gets slightly better mileage, has more comfy seats, is (a little) quieter and (a little) softer-riding. And you (used to) be able to get a sedan bodystyle.

      But you have to give up the Fit’s handling and cargo versatility.

      But yeah, it usually comes down to price. The Yaris can usually be had for less.

  • avatar
    VW16v

    The updated Camry will help capture a large slice of that growth, but you need competent product across the board when every basis point counts. Last weeks Motorweek had a sedan comparison test. The 2015 Camry was voted tenth place out of ten sedans. Maybe that slice of pie is getting smaller for Camry.

  • avatar
    hammerlock

    from what I have seen here in Canada, Mazda has solve the rust issue. there is no reason not buy a mazda with their unlimited miliage warrenty.

  • avatar
    caltemus

    Really? Not a single decent picture of the front of the car, where much refreshing has taken place.

    • 0 avatar
      petezeiss

      Caltemus,
      When TTAC reviews a car that interests me I immediately seek out photos elsewhere from professional photogs, not cellphone funhouse-mirror shots.

      But in fairness and cons*dering the car, the author may have been exercising a kindness by not dwelling on the front end.

      • 0 avatar
        Lie2me

        If he really wanted to be kind he would have drove it off a cliff

      • 0 avatar
        caltemus

        I prefer the cell phone camera, just from better angles. It makes the car seem more real than the manufacturer-supplied glamour shots or auto-show pictures with way too much light.

        • 0 avatar
          petezeiss

          True, but there’s a sizable middle-ground of competent photos on the internet by various entities with no company-specific axes to grind.

          My main gripe with cell-phone class photos is the cheap, under-corrected lenses they get that barrel distort to the max. The top photo here makes the Yaris look as cab-forward as the last generation Fit.

          • 0 avatar
            Lie2me

            Every halfway decent cellphone has a photo editor. If it doesn’t every Windows computer has a really good photo editor, MS Paint, so there really is no excuse for mediocre photography

          • 0 avatar
            Banger

            My own contribution to the “decent photos” effort vis-a-vis the new Yaris SE here: http://www.technologytell.com/in-car-tech/11299/yarr-blows-get-taste-toyota-yaris-se

            Fun little car, but needs better MPGs to be taken seriously in this segment nowadays. The handling is worlds better than the Nissan Versa Note that sells well beyond 100,000 units a year — I have an article or two and tons of photos of a 2015 Versa Note SR on the same site, above.

            All else being equal, the Yaris’ deft handling and nicer interior would probably win my dollars over the Versa’s “most-car-per-dollar” interior space. But the fuel economy of the Yaris is worse than my Nissan cube, itself shaped like a barn door. No way am I putting up with both segment-trailing fuel economy AND a tighter rear seat (I have a toddler in a huge car seat right now, so that’s an important consideration) just to have something that has better steering feel and chassis composure.

            For what it’s worth, my wife thought the Yaris SE rode too hard compared to the Versa Note SR. Then again, the cube is her daily, and in the matrix of subcompact hatchback suspension setups, it’s as soft as a Sealy pillowtop mattress.

  • avatar
    30-mile fetch

    What more is there to say about this car? It’s good Toyota can use it to practice crafting responsive steering and suspension tunes. It is nice you can finally get a decent steering wheel. It stands a good chance at being an unkillable cockroach for the 3rd or 4th owner. The rest of it fails wholesale to compete in the segment.

    The Yaris was competitive in 2007. It stopped being competitive in 2009. This refresh doesn’t change that.

  • avatar

    Market reality – No one buys the Yaris because for about four cents more a day, you can get a Corolla.

    If you have a job, you can get a Corolla.
    If your job is collecting social security for a disabled family member, you can get a Corolla.
    If your job is collecting soda cans off the freeway and you have 6 months of receipts from the Renynolds aluminum machine, you can get a Corolla.
    If you can write nine non-sequential numbers as your SSN, you can get a Corolla.
    If your FICO is over 380, you can get a Corolla.
    If you can fog a mirror with your breath, you can get a Corolla.
    If you can do lines off the same mirror, you can sell Corollas.
    A priest, a rabbi, and a nun walk into a bar…except its not a bar, its a Toyota dealership and they all drive away in Corollas.

    Why would anyone buy this over a giveaway Corolla?

  • avatar
    danio3834

    By the way, has anyone taken note of how badly this car’s sales have tanked in the last 5 years? In the hard times of 2008 they managed to move over 100k of them in the US, but this year they won’t even break 15k.

    This car alone should be added to the gasoline price chart in the other thread to support the premise.

    • 0 avatar
      petezeiss

      That’s interesting because of the degree of decline plus the fact that they weren’t hideous until this most recent “refresh”. What changed so dramatically in their disfavor between 2008 and 2014?

      • 0 avatar
        danio3834

        The decline is definitely due to a combination of factors, not the least of which would be the economy. One has to wonder how long Toyota will continue to offer a low margin car with such low volume.

        • 0 avatar
          JimC2

          “One has to wonder how long Toyota will continue to offer a low margin car with such low volume.”

          Maybe the entry-level market is simply low profit for them or even a “loss-leader.” When you’re at a point in your life with limited income but you have reliable, inexpensive transportation, perhaps there is some long-term brand loyalty for that transportation. Later on, when your life changes and you have more income…

          I don’t know enough about the business of running a major car company to comment on that as a viable business strategy, just stating the theory here.

        • 0 avatar
          petezeiss

          The Yaris’ decline doesn’t puzzle me so much as the fact that it ever had a peak from which to decline. It has always been in the situation Flybrain describes relative the Corolla.

          Maybe the fact of its being a hatch mattered? But when it was more popular there was still the Matrix, only modestly more expensive. The Matrix’ demise in the US should have boosted Yaris sales.

          I’ve driven the previous generation. I guess I just don’t get why the Yaris was ever offered in the US. It was just a miserable, penurious little car for a serious entry-level chunk of money once AT and any options were added.

          • 0 avatar
            30-mile fetch

            In 2007, the Yaris had a sticker nearly $2500 lower than a comparably equipped Corolla. At this end of the car spectrum, that kind of price difference matters.

            Besides, at that time the Yaris was one of the nicer B-segment cars, particularly the sedan. Don’t forget what the Accent, Aveo, and the Echo it replaced were like. The problem is this segment exploded after 2008 and Toyota didn’t make any effort to progress with it.

          • 0 avatar
            Lorenzo

            It must sell well globally, with American sales being gravy, or having it sold in America gives it some extra sales value overseas. Flybrain’s equation doesn’t work in some other countries, where the Corolla is a luxury car.

      • 0 avatar
        Lie2me

        “What changed so dramatically in their disfavor between 2008 and 2014?”

        Their owners got jobs

      • 0 avatar
        DeeDub

        “What changed so dramatically in their disfavor between 2008 and 2014?”

        What changed was the competition, and what didn’t change was the Yaris. In 2008 there wasn’t the current Kia Rio, Hyundai Accent, Honda Fit and Nissan Versa Note to compete against. All of them are better cars than this little dinosaur.

        • 0 avatar
          petezeiss

          Didn’t the Fit start selling here in ’06 or ’07? But it’s always been in a class by itself because TARDIS.

          • 0 avatar
            DeeDub

            Yes, and there was an Accent as well But those previous generations weren’t nearly the cars the current versions are.

        • 0 avatar
          30-mile fetch

          “What changed was the competition, and what didn’t change was the Yaris”

          Bingo. The Fit, Yaris, and Versa were surprisingly good in 2007 when this was a sad, sad neglected little segment. It took off after they had success and for some reason Toyota just didn’t care to keep up.

        • 0 avatar
          Dave M.

          I would suggest plenty of in-house cannibalism as well, from the Prius C to the Corolla – which was firesale priced until the new generation came out.

          I also see Camry LE ads here in Houston all the time for $17-18k.

  • avatar
    Zackman

    I’d buy one instead of a M-B smart, but that’s not saying much.

  • avatar
    petezeiss

    “The new “European flavor” of the refreshed 2015 Yaris”

    Yurrup in invented the Angry Fish look? Or does that mean something more positive, like it’ll rattle ass even more because they stiffened the shocks?

  • avatar
    daviel

    I’m sold. When my current Kia Sportage passes into the next plane, I’ll need an indestructible econobox.

  • avatar
    SCE to AUX

    This is the same drivetrain used in the 2004 Scion xA/xB. Mine was the 05 xB, rated for 108 hp at the time.

    Actually, I believe this drivetrain has been around since dinosaurs ruled the earth, and is ultra-reliable. But it’s really had no improvements in power, NVH, or fuel economy. And the Yaris is really tiny inside.

    I’m surprised anyone would buy this when there are so many better products out there today.

  • avatar

    I own a 2008 2-door 5-speed Yaris. I bought it used at a good price back in 2009. It had only 6,000 miles on the odometer when I bought it. It now has 120,000 miles on it; all trouble-free. It consistently gets between 36 and 37 miles per gallon in a combination of stop and go traffic and highway runs up to 80 mph. In addition to serving as a bullet-proof commuter car, I have used it as a pickup truck to haul garbage cans full of yard clippings, bottles, and paper to the local recycling center. That’s something you can’t do with a sedan. I have also driven it in time trials at Summit Point and Monticello raceways and I’ve had a blast with it. Soon after I bought it, I installed a rear anti-sway bar, wider wheels, and larger stickier tires on it, and that made a considerable difference in handling. And although the interior is spartan, the front seats are reasonably comfortable, even after long drives. And yes, I’m a cheap skate!

  • avatar
    Joss

    Love what the French do with the wipers.. Yari follows Citroen CX’s single mid-point arc. Then there was 50’s Renault 4 CV park em upright in the middle of the shield job. Perhaps Toyota are trying to capitalize on previous generation Versa hatches garlic origin. Compared to the Note they sold a boatload.

    You’ll catch a spoof on French wipers in Jacques Tati’s ‘Trafic’ 1971.
    Sad Cit & Peu aren’t situated in NA to take advantage of the upswing…

  • avatar
    threeer

    Looks to be the spiritual successor to my son’s 1997 Tercel. She ain’t fancy, but the wee beasty is well north of 200k on the odometer, running the original engine and transmission still. 97 (or so HP), 5 speed, cloth on the doors and a soft(ish) dashboard and an A/C that would freeze large slabs of beef. We should all have a car that serves us as well as that one has. My son can easily afford something newer/sexier, but the Tercel just won’t die. I could see living with a new four-door hatchback that I didn’t have to worry about until near-retirement age…:)

  • avatar
    tmport

    Ahh, the magical Yaris SE with the manual transmission. It baffles me to no end that Toyota handed out the MT to all the auto journalists, yet won’t actually sell it to the general public. If you go on cars.com and run a search, guess how many SE 5MTs there are within 500 miles of where I live in Washington, DC? Zero.

    • 0 avatar
      Banger

      For what it’s worth, Toyota sent me the SE, but with an automatic. http://www.technologytell.com/in-car-tech/11299/yarr-blows-get-taste-toyota-yaris-se/

      It’s ancient, has too few speeds, and I would have preferred the manual transmission by far.


Back to TopLeave a Reply

You must be logged in to post a comment.

Recent Comments

New Car Research

Get a Free Dealer Quote

Staff

  • Contributors

  • Matthew Guy, Canada
  • Seth Parks, United States
  • Ronnie Schreiber, United States
  • Bozi Tatarevic, United States
  • Chris Tonn, United States
  • Corey Lewis, United States
  • Moderators

  • Adam Tonge, United States
  • Kyree Williams, United States