By on May 10, 2017

2017 Toyota Yaris

Last week, my Ace of Base selection was met with loud derision from certain corners of the web. My intent was to prove how it’s possible for one to get into a comfortable, well-equipped, diesel-powered Canyon pickup without springing for an SLT or Denali trim. Nevertheless, my efforts were met with a chorus of WHY DON’T YOU JUST DO AN ACE OF BASE ON A ROLLS-ROYCE RABBLE RABBLE RABBLE.

Well then, without further delay…

Nah, dear reader. I wouldn’t do that to ya. Not today, anyway.

Instead, we have a sampling from the folks who are bringing us a new Supra. For every Supra though, there is a C-HR, a vehicular oddity so searing to the eyeballs that even the Aztek went on record as saying “Dude! Wait until it’s dark out!” Few can accuse Toyota of being totally beige these days, though, and I do think that is s a very good thing.

With that in mind, let’s examine what Toyota has to offer the base-model shopper, pointing our build-and-price tools to the Yaris. No, not the fish-faced, gawping Yaris iA sedan, but rather the Yaris hatchback.

The base model 3-Door L starts at $15,250, which definitely inhabits the upper financial limits of the small-car marketplace. It’s a funky looking but not wholly offensive little hatch, with a single windshield wiper continuing the Toyota tradition of affixing odd-numbers of wipers to its panes of glass. (Remember the dual wiper setup on the rear of the Camry wagon?)

Under the hood of the Yaris 3-Door L, drivers will find a 1.5-liter inline-four making 106 horsepower. A five-speed manual is standard equipment and is, in fact, the only way to row-your-own Yaris as all the other trims, save for the top-rung 5-door SE, are solely slushbox affairs. Weighing in at 2315 pounds, the Yaris L may not be blazingly fast, but at least it’s efficient; this driveline pair is good for a near-as-makes-no-difference 40 miles per gallon on the highway.

Fifteen-inch steelies are found at all four corners, shod with 175/65 rubber. There are two advantages to the diminutive donuts. First, their replacement cost will be about the same as a the price of a Starbucks Mocha Venti Extreme Chai Soy Latte. Secondly, the elitist 5-Door Yaris SE has a five foot wider turning circle thanks to being fitted with 16-inch rims. Better to make any hasty U-turns with the base model, then.

Nine airbags are an amount of pillowy safety once only experienced in the fanciest of luxury cars. The steering wheel tilts, and calls can be made via Bluetooth and Toyota’s Entune system. Critically, A/C is standard on the base model. Satellite radio is a $379 stand-alone option, but at least you can get it on a base trim — *ahem* Honda *ahem*.

Are there cheaper base model hatchbacks than the 3-Door Yaris L? Definitely, but I do think the Toyota stands a better chance than some other brands of hanging on to some of its value come trade-in time. It’s list of standard equipment earns it a spot on this list, too.

Now, which way to the nearest Rolls dealer?

 Not every base model has aced it. The ones that have? They help make the automotive landscape a lot better. Any others you can think of, B&B? Let us know in the comments. Naturally, feel free to eviscerate our selections.

The model above is shown with American options and is priced in American dollars absent of freight and available rebates. As always, your dealer may sell for less.

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65 Comments on “Ace of Base – 2017 Toyota Yaris 3-Door L...”


  • avatar
    sirwired

    I’ve never understood the wheel-size creep so common in automotive journalism. Here, on a tiny, tinny, light penalty box with a weak drivetrain, 15-inch wheels are declared to be “diminutive.” It’s not terribly long ago that 15-inch wheels were the standard on MUCH larger cars (my B5.5 Passat Wagon had 15″ wheels, which was quite normal for the time) and on smaller cars, 15″ was considered an upper-trim upgrade.

    So how did this size end up as “Hahahahah… what pathetic tires” on a much smaller car?

    • 0 avatar
      dividebytube

      Heh – my 80s Monte Carlo SS had 15″ rims, an upgrade over the standard 14″ rims. Oh for the days of sidewalls.

    • 0 avatar
      gtemnykh

      I was going to say, it’s funny how perceptions change when 15″ 175/65 is considered tiny. Our old Civic wagon had 175/70R13s, when I swapped on alloys from a ’99 Si the little wagon looked like it was rolling on dubs or something. My ’12 Civic had 15s, replacement tires were certainly affordable ($64 a tire for General Altimax RT43), but not the dirt cheap $25 a pop 13s used to sell for in the local PennySaver when I was growing up. Current Ranger has 14s, when it comes time to replace them, I’d really like to find some ‘teardrop’ 15″ Explorer alloys and mount up some fatter rubber.

    • 0 avatar
      JimZ

      bigger wheels = bigger brakes.

      bigger brakes = longer pad life (generally.)

      we’re in an era where people expect brake pads to last 100,000 miles. time was Audi had to use inboard brakes on a couple of their cars because they couldn’t fit the ones they wanted inside the wheels of the day.

      • 0 avatar
        djsyndrome

        This breaks down when you need the larger pad surface area to stop heavier cars. An early 90s Tercel was 300 pounds (or 15 percent) lighter than this thing.

      • 0 avatar
        Sigivald

        I’ll be shocked if that Yaris has Ginormous Calipers behind those wheels.

        (Who the hell expects 100kmi brake pads?

        Is that actually a thing?)

    • 0 avatar
      tallguy130

      But bigger tires make my weiner bigger, right? God help me if I put a spoiler on the car too. I would have to buy bigger pants…

    • 0 avatar
      sutherland555

      I remember when my Mom had to replace the 16s (which were almost unheard of bac then on mass market cars) on her Probe GT back about 20 years ago now. Each tire was about $250 CAD as I remember. 16s are practically the minimum now unless your in a sub-compact or base compact. The 14s on my 99 Civic were wonderfully cheap to replace. Better tires now for sure but miss the days of cheap replacement tires.

    • 0 avatar
      Sigivald

      Yup.

      I’d think the Yaris would be more pleasant to drive and look better with *14s*, maybe 13s.

      (Just as my XC70 will be getting 16s to replace the oversize and ugly factory 18s, about as soon as it needs a new tire.)

    • 0 avatar
      newenthusiast

      I agree. There is nothing wrong with these wheels and tires.

      I prefer smaller wheels and more sidewall on my tires. I took off the 20″ ones that came with mine and put on the 19’s. SO many more tires options, all quieter and more comfortable. If I could OEM wheels get down to a 17 or 18 I would, but the lug nut patterns don’t match…or none that I could find did.

    • 0 avatar
      Chan

      I don’t think Mr Guy is actually complaining here, but the mainstream market does expect larger wheel sizes and stylish wheel designs as an indicator of trim level.

      Modest tire sizes are critical to operating costs. Actual need for wheel size creep is created from overall weight gain which requires size creep from brake discs and suspension arms.

    • 0 avatar
      Conslaw

      My 1998 Mercury Villager minivan (same as the Nissan Quest) had 15-inch wheels.

  • avatar
    jh26036

    I had 5dr one as a rental in Seattle. It was either this or the Chevy Spark. At $12k, this thing is a poor value. At $15k, it is silly. The Yaris base trim is just a really crappy car. I think I rather have a base Kia Soul.

    I want to add, I drove around a Scion xA for an extended period of time, that car at $13k back in 2006, was a very good car up until it was totaled at 180k. I even got back $4k from insurance.

  • avatar
    Jeff Waingrow

    Not meaning to be especially critical, but might mention of ride, acceleration, handling, noise level, visibility out, seat comfort, instrumentation, etc,. however brief, be in order, (perhaps even to the exclusion of such puff stuff as latte references and such) , and much more useful?

    • 0 avatar
      CaptainObvious

      I don’t think he actually drives the cars in this series.
      Just looks at the specs and prices.

    • 0 avatar
      N8iveVA

      “Not meaning to be especially critical, but might mention of ride, acceleration, handling, noise level, visibility out, seat comfort, instrumentation, etc,. however brief, be in order”

      All awful except for visibility.

    • 0 avatar
      bumpy ii

      At this level, you’re not looking for any of that stuff. What you are looking for is:

      1. Gets me to work every day.
      2. See 1.

      And unless you really need a hatch, you’re just going to get a Corolla.

      Aside from the body style and inevitable feature creep over the years, this is basically the ’99 Echo. Same engine and everything. Some people like to ding Toyota for keeping old tech around, but the company is very conservative (the Prius was a huge exception) and once they find soemthing that works, they won’t change it just for the sake of change.

    • 0 avatar
      zamoti

      I rented one for a three hour one way trip on highway and some twisty backroads. Unsurprisingly, this car is the opposite of fast. It is anti-fast. I was standing on the gas on a long downhill grade and I got to 80mph after about 30 seconds before I gave up and just accepted the limit.
      Handling isn’t exciting, but because it’s so light, it’s kind of enjoyable. It’s not quiet, the seats were unremarkable.

  • avatar
    deanst

    No air conditioning on the 3 door model in Canada – maybe a dealer installed option?

    I could see this as a first car for someone, but that front is just hideous.

  • avatar
    30-mile fetch

    This confirms my suspicion that every car will end up featured in this series.

    Toyota stopped trying with this car in 2008. It’s an ace of malaise.

    • 0 avatar
      ponchoman49

      An Ace of malaise is a perfect description of the current Yaris and Spark. For 15995 I can get into a far superior 2017 brand new Hyundai Elantra SE for 15995 with automatic, 147 HP and A/C, power windows/locks, cruise control with steering wheel mounted buttons, bluetooth, Sirius XM radio and floormats. And there are 20 different ones to choose from in various colors and interior mixes at this same dealer.

      • 0 avatar
        30-mile fetch

        Perhaps this article needs a new title to reflect this reality.

        Ace of Base??? -2017 Toyota Yaris 3-Door L
        A Face to Mace -2017 Toyota Yaris 3-Door L
        Waste of Space -2017 Toyota Yaris 3-Door L
        Dead Last Place -2017 Toyota Yaris 3-Door L
        Don’t Buy in Haste -2017 Toyota Yaris 3-Door L

      • 0 avatar
        Featherston

        From where are you getting the $15,995 figure? In my zip code, at least, the Elantra starts at $17,150, which is $1,900 more than the Yaris. That difference represents a pretty hefty 12.5% of the Yaris’ base MSRP. The Accent, of course, is comparable to the Yaris price-wise.

      • 0 avatar
        Chan

        The reason why Toyota still makes the 1.5L and 4AT is because it’s cheap to run over 300k miles.

        Even the Spark cannot lay claim to Toyota’s level of reliable legacy componentry, let alone the new-tech-rich Elantra.

        • 0 avatar
          30-mile fetch

          There is something to this, something admirable, but here’s my question:

          How many buyers will be running a Yaris to 300K (or even 200K) miles, and are they willing to overlook the Yaris’s shortcomings relative to its competitors in order to do so?

          The anvil durability is a boon for the 3rd, 4th, 5th owners rather than the first. First buyers are opting for the competition.

          • 0 avatar
            threeer

            Dunno, but my son is still running his 1997 Tercel (now with over 250k on it). And the Yaris kind of reminds me of the Tercel, although I think the Tercel is better in some regards (hey, there’s still actual cloth on the door inserts!). I find the Yaris strangely appealing in that I love the little Tercel so much. Sure, it isn’t fancy, but I’d reckon it would last me forever and a day with minimal issues, and that is worth something to some folks.

          • 0 avatar
            JimZ

            “Dunno, but my son is still running his 1997 Tercel (now with over 250k on it). ”

            so obviously that means every 1997 Tercel is still running out there with over 250k on it.

            confirmation bias is an incredibly strong force.

          • 0 avatar
            30-mile fetch

            threer,
            Sounds like your son has his head on straight, I believe you’ve written before that he could easily afford a new set of wheels. He’s unusual in that most of us don’t have our heads on straight and trade out of a vehicle instead of taking advantage of the longevity. Long live the Tercel.

  • avatar
    FreedMike

    The Yaris iA is a FAR better car than this one…and as it’s base-only, I’d say it’s the real Ace.

  • avatar
    tallguy130

    That’s a big fat no from me for this being a ace of base. For 15k you can get a lot more from a lot of other places. Even on the same lot the iA is vastly superior with better driving dynamics and more standard equipment. Right time of month you could get a Carolla for the same price and get a car that not nearly a decade old and that’s just on the same lot!

    I won’t even get into the Elantras, Focuses, Sentras, Souls that are better cars and could be had for the same price.

  • avatar
    punkybrewstershubby aka Troy D.

    My ’17 Versa S 5-speed was a much better value with a real trunk and rear seat legroom at near-Altima levels. MPH is about neck and neck and the Versa is a “real” car, not with the diminutive look and feel.

    • 0 avatar
      gtemnykh

      I’d say your on the money. If bottom-barrel basic motoring is what your’e after, the Versa S is the car to beat. 15cu ft trunk, awesome rear legroom (if not width), the 5spd+1.6L is actually decently perky.

  • avatar
    TDIGuy

    Great example of a true base model. Interesting that in Canada, at least this is the only way to get the two door. At least it comes in red.

    How exactly does wheel size affect turning circle? Tire circumference, on the other hand…

    • 0 avatar
      bumpy ii

      The larger wheel options are usually wider as well, which means they’ll run out of room to turn sooner (usually by hitting the tie rod on FWD cars. Some tie rod ends have a curve designed into them to provide some extra wheel clearance for turns.

  • avatar
    sportyaccordy

    With a bigger engine…. this car would still be a POS, let’s not fool ourselves.

    And if a car needs stickshift to be fun it’s not fast enough.

    • 0 avatar
      Sigivald

      “It’s more fun to drive a slow car fast than a fast car slow”.

      I drove a Mercedes that took almost twice as long to get to 60 as this thing (18-some vs. 10.2) for over a decade, and had lots of fun doing so.

      (What’s more fun than being able to floor it from *almost every stop*? Running up a curvy mountain road without letting up on the throttle more than once or twice?)

  • avatar
    JimZ

    “Last week, my Ace of Base selection was met with loud derision from certain corners of the web.”

    I wouldn’t call it “loud derision.” more of an undercurrent of grumbling.

  • avatar
    eggsalad

    I can NOT believe you failed to mention that this is the only French-built car sold in the US!!

    Why, it’s practically a Citroen, and TTACers *love* Citroens!

    • 0 avatar
      Joss

      The Yaris hatch is French-built. Fit & finish are not up to the usual Toy standard. I’ve seen Youtube reviews showing this.

      • 0 avatar
        Featherston

        That’s interesting. The previous-gen Yaris also was assembled in France and Japan (as well as Thailand, China, and Taiwan), but I’m 99% sure the US received Japanese-made ones. Build quality on the previous-gen sedan and 3-door that I’ve ridden in and driven is quite good. These are far better cars than the B&B would have you believe. For the price, they deliver assembly quality, durability, reliability, and economy in spades.

    • 0 avatar
      bhtooefr

      Smart ForTwo is also French-built.

      And, although I don’t see it certified, my guess is if you ordered one, the Bugatti Chiron could be certified, and is also made in France.

  • avatar
    Sam Hall

    The thing I’ve always thought about the 3-door Yaris is that it would make a nice-looking and very reasonably priced Celica with a longer front clip and fastback rear, with either an 80s-style glass hatchback or a trunk.

    • 0 avatar
      Compaq Deskpro

      It would have to have a gaping maw grill in order to hide the tall European pedestrian safety bumper. It wouldn’t look anywhere near as slippery as the old one.

      • 0 avatar
        Sam Hall

        You’re right, it wouldn’t look like the last-gen Celica, but more like an 80s Japanese hatchback. I think it would have retro value, though maybe too retro for some people.

        I’d think that two-doors might come back into vogue now that Millenials are finally making enough to afford cars, but they would have to be on the lower end of the price scale.

  • avatar
    Sidewall Nation

    I am unusually fascinated with the top of the line Yaris if only that it is available in two-tone paint (red and black). I did a quick search of Toyota inventory for one and turned up nothing, which is understandable. Does anyone else know if other cars have been offered in two-tone recently? I’d gladly own one if they were about half msrp. This configuration has to be Pagani league rare.

    My more realistic fascination is with the 1.0L Fiesta. My wife and I were able to fit twin toddlers, carry-ons and a checked bag, plus a jogging stroller inside a Fiesta hatch with a few cubic-inches of air left to breath. Last week we repeated the feat, minus the jogging stroller, in a Fiesta sedan for a two week tour of New Mexico. Wide open throttle driving with still great fuel economy makes me love these little cars!

    • 0 avatar
      30-mile fetch

      “My wife and I were able to fit twin toddlers, carry-ons and a checked bag, plus a jogging stroller inside a Fiesta hatch”

      How on earth were you able to do this? I cannot find a comfortable driving position with a rear-facing car seat behind me in some cars roomier than the Fiesta, and I’m not that tall.

      • 0 avatar
        Compaq Deskpro

        I’m skeptical too, my mother has a Fiesta hatch with a manual and 1.6, I’m average height and there is exactly enough room, no way I could put a baby seat behind me. It can easily get 40 MPG though.

      • 0 avatar
        Sidewall Nation

        I’d be lying if I claim that trip was comfortable. The Kids’ seats were front facing and installed with the big suitcase between them. The jogging stroller fit by removing the false floor behind the hatch. Everything else was shoved in the remaining space. It was only for a three hour drive to the airport, not so long that the lack of leg room became painful. Ideal, no, but knowing it is doable led me to rent a Fiesta sedan for NM and know we’d all fit.

  • avatar
    DevilsRotary86

    Some time ago, I made mention on this site that my brother drives a 2007 Toyota Yaris 3 door base. He is still driving it.

  • avatar
    PrincipalDan

    At least this base is truly base. I haven’t seen an “L” or “CE” package Toyota new since they stopped sending them to the rental companies.

    Remember when Toyota was sending 4cyl Sienna minivans to the rental companies?

  • avatar
    Compaq Deskpro

    Rolls Royce is obviously extreme due its limited production, but I would be interested in what is missing from something like a Bentley Continental GT if you cheap out.

  • avatar
    Goatshadow

    None of the Toyota dealers around me even list a Yaris in their inventory. They have 4 Yaris iA’s, but despite Mazda fanboyism those don’t count. I guess you have to special order your Yaris and then wait…

  • avatar
    James2

    Poor thing looks like it was evicted from a Pac-Man machine.

  • avatar
    adam_b

    “with a single windshield wiper continuing the Toyota tradition of affixing odd-numbers of wipers to its panes of glass. (Remember the dual wiper setup on the rear of the Camry wagon?)”

    Last time I looked, dual = 2 = even number.

  • avatar
    Menloguy

    Despite the shortcomings of power as stated in the comments, I’m still attracted to this car’s Euro poverty look with wheel covers and blacked out trim. The fact that it’s built in France and has a Euro license plate bracket in the grille increases its Euro-quotient. Put a French license plate on the front license plate bracket (for states that only issue one license plate) and an oval “F” on the rear hatch and you’re driving in Normandy!

  • avatar
    jstert

    i got a french-built used 2014 yaris L ex-rental as a snowbird car, $9k, 42k miles. used is the yaris’ sweet spot, no way is it worth $15k new. it is utterly reliable & tossable second hand. it is parked on a battery tender for 4 months then starts right up. yes, it is simple and low tech but that means just a $20 annual oil change at walmart. southeast asian taxicabs are mostly thai-built yaris, like timex watches they “take a licking but keep on ticking.” adding cruise control is $50 parts, plug and play. crank windows are my fountain of youth.

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