By on March 22, 2017

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If you didn’t stay up to the wee hours last night excitedly singing the Toyota Yaris’ praises in an internet chat group, you’re forgiven. Demand for the subcompact hatch has fallen to remarkably low levels compared to years past, as newer, more dynamic hatches increasingly hijack buyers’ attention.

Still, the subcompact segment isn’t one Toyota wants to yield to its rivals. As such, the little Yaris (not to be confused with the Mazda 2-based Yaris iA) is due for a makeover. While the refreshed 2018 Yaris hasn’t been to the gym, it does look like it stared in the window and took notes.

For 2018, the Yaris presents a new face to the world, and it’s a slightly meaner one than before. Well, the fact that there’s any hint of malevolence in its visage is noteworthy, as the former model had all the edginess of an episode of Paw Patrol.

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A slightly re-shaped grille opening more closely mimics that seen on larger Toyota models, and looks less like a gown blown open by a gust of wind. The vestigial upper grille is gone, replaced with a Toyota badge flanked by chrome whiskers and slightly revised headlamps. Re-shaped bumpers front and rear add visual width and the opportunity for more chrome accents, while the SE version sees its grille filled with black mesh and its hubs shod with black-accented 16-inchers. Remember, more chrome always means “more luxury,” regardless of content.

In this case, there is more content. Both the base L and mid-grade LE gain the same sport instrument panel found on the SE. That unit contains an LCD display to help owners keep tabs on the vehicle’s performance numbers, should such a thing be to their interest. They’ll likely be more interested in the fuel economy readout in their base Yaris, if this crystal ball is correct.

Those lower-run models also see an audio upgrade. Toyota has added its Entune Multimedia Bundle to the L and LE, comprising a 6.1-inch infotainment touchscreen, Bluetooth, Siri Touch Free, iPod connectivity, a USB port, among other features. Moving up to the SE nets buyers a 7-inch touchscreen, hands-free calling, voice recognition, SiriusXM satellite radio and other upgrades.

While a couple of new paint colors join the Yaris’ palette, there’s no drivetrain improvements for 2018. That means the familiar 1.5-liter four-cylinder remains, making 106 horsepower and 103 lb-ft of torque. Helping corral all of that, ahem, power is a five-speed manual or a four-speed automatic, one of the few left in the industry.

The 2018 Toyota Yaris hits dealers this summer, with pricing announced in the near future.

[Images: Toyota Motor Corporation]

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34 Comments on “2018 Toyota Yaris: A Slightly Meaner Hatch, in Looks Only...”


  • avatar
    indi500fan

    Sad/angry face.
    Small cars need to be happy cars.
    Everybody knows that.
    I know the low end stuff gets dumped off to interns to work on, but not good.

  • avatar
    bumpy ii

    I like the seats, and yes I’m a weirdo.

    The big problem the Yaris has is that it gets squeezed out between volume discounts on Corollas, the better mpg of the Prius c, and the extra hatchback space of the iM and regular Prius.

    • 0 avatar
      mcs

      and right next to it is the iA with 6-speed manual or 6-speed automatic.

    • 0 avatar
      spookiness

      I like those seats too. Would be nice in the iA sedan. The iA is my favorite cheap car of the moment, but interior seems a bit austere, and a sea of black. Its a shame the Mazda2/iA hatch isn’t available. I’d probably be among the dozens who would pick one up if it had a few more amenities available. I can even get past the butterface, but I’d prefer the Mazda front.

    • 0 avatar
      warrant242

      Are the seats more comfortable than the previous gen? My maximum tolerance for that driving position is about 40 minutes. My commute is 38.

  • avatar

    Serious question: How many years has it been since Toyota changed the underlying structure and engine of the vehicle? 10 or 11 years?

    Mechanical reliability, especially in the face of mechanically reliable competitors, is not a good enough reason for anyone to buy this car. But its the only one I can think of.

  • avatar
    FreedMike

    Still outclassed by the Mazda sitting 10 feet away on the same showroom floor…

  • avatar
    threeer

    In spirit, it kind of reminds me of my son’s 1997 Tercel. With a manual trans, I almost sort of like the little Yaris, despite all of its shortcomings.

    • 0 avatar
      redmondjp

      I rented one two weeks ago, and I was surprised by how much I liked it. I’ve actually been looking at used ones now. It’s one of the few cars left that can be considered basic, reliable, affordable transportation. and one for which you can get a replacement key for under $100.

    • 0 avatar
      Ryoku75

      The Yaris may as well be a Tercel with its vintage 4-speed auto, and rear drums.

      • 0 avatar
        threeer

        Perhaps…but maybe that’s also why my son’s ’97 now has over 250k on the original engine/trans/clutch with no major issues. Other than wear and tear items, it’s been the most rock-solid car we’ve ever had in the family. And he won’t give it up. With just under 100hp, manual windows and virtually no electronic do-dahs, it’s no wonder the thing won’t break. I see the Yaris in much the same light and could see owning one as a back and forth to work vehicle (especially in SE trim, metallic grey with the manual trans). But priced as-new, it makes it hard to recommend. Maybe in six years when the kid (adopted daughter) is in need of her first car, she’ll follow her big-brother’s footsteps into a nice, basic Toyota, as well!

        • 0 avatar
          FreedMike

          Yes, I know the thing’s going to run perfectly for 10 years.

          The question is whether I’d put up with the damn thing being so bad to drive for 10 years.

          • 0 avatar
            Ryoku75

            Theres plenty of nice cars that’ll last 10-15 years, even some older Hyundais can be reliable ( and will go beyond 250k).

        • 0 avatar
          Dave M.

          My college roommate replaced his ’83 Celica with a ’91 base Tercel (only a/c) and loved that thing for 22 years and 300k miles until he finally upgraded to an Accord V6 coupe. He would have kept at it but he figured airbags would better protect his two small kids.

  • avatar
    Land Ark

    That’s not a gaping maw, that’s a Tom Selleck moustache.

  • avatar
    sirwired

    This is one of those sensible cars that’ll run like the proverbial Swiss watch forever, but you’ll be praying for something expensive to break to give you a good excuse you can tell all your similarly-frugal friends as to why you dumped it.

  • avatar
    OldManPants

    I love how the slight bulge where the badge sits makes like a little nose.

  • avatar
    eggsalad

    Is it still made (assembled?) in France, like the current model? Because that French build quality can’t be beat!

  • avatar
    Tosh

    Wait: A Corolla wagon is an iM (or Matrix or Vibe), but a rebadged Mazda2 is another Yaris? “Yaris” must have a secret meaning.

  • avatar
    Moparmann

    The car looks as though it’s angry about its station in the automotive pecking order! LOL!! :-)

  • avatar
    Joss

    May be able to survive four fat yanks. But could they survive it?

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