By on September 6, 2017

Yaris iA

Have you ever walked into a restaurant to find it happens to be marking some sort of special occasion by offering only a single dish? One time, I ambled into a greasy spoon fine dining establishment to discover the sole food available was roast beef. The solitary option? Mashed potatoes or french fries, sir. No substitutions.

While that approach had me heading for the door in a hurry, sometimes it pays dividends in the car world. We’re all spoilt for choice these days, so Toyota makes it easy for us with the Yaris iA.

Archaeologists know that it takes some digging to find the real source of an artifact. Dig a bit into the Toyota Yaris iA, and one will find a rebadged Scion iA, itself a rebadged Mazda 2 sedan. Keep digging and one may find King Tut’s tomb, or at least the bones of another compact car being sold elsewhere in the world.

The Yaris iA firmly plants all four of its 16-inch alloy wheels at the economy car end of the scale, even if its price of entry is a comparatively lofty $15,950. Customers can elect to spend an extra $1,100 on an automatic transmission. Save for a few available dealer accessories, that’s the only choice one has to make.

A 1.5-liter four-cylinder making 106 horsepower shuffles the Yaris iA down the road, connected to a six-speed manual transmission. Toyota has recently been making a lot of noise about their safety systems, and the iA includes nannies like low-speed pre-collision avoidance, braking assists, and a raft of airbags. These are all Very Good Things for the first time driver — a demographic which likely makes up a good chunk of iA pilots.

Drivers accustomed to a few gadgets will find a good bit to like about the iA’s interior, which should look immediately familiar to any Mazda fan. Given Mazda’s proclivity for cranking out desirable product, this is not a bad thing at all. A 7-inch color touchscreen display stands on the dashboard just as it does in other Mazda cars, above a simple set of HVAC controls and to the right of a great set of gauges. Like its Mazda cousins, this is an attractive interior for the price. Fortunate, as the iA’s front grille is decidedly not attractive at all.

Yaris iA

Air conditioning, cruise control, a couple of USB ports, and a rearview camera are stuffed into this little sedan. Tossing in push button start and a steering wheel which adjusts for reach and rake help to seal the deal.

Great colors spanning the spectrum are available, including the Sapphire Blue shown at the top of this post. I should mention that a press photo of last year’s Scion iA was used today instead of the usual Build & Price screenshot because the image on that page was microscopic. Deal hunters take note: every hue, no matter how bold, is $0.

I’ll cap off with the same verdict I gave to the iA’s half-brother, the Yaris hatch. There are definitely cheaper base model sedans on the market 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. Just don’t ask for any substitutions.

[Images: Toyota]

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 Freedom Dollars absent of delivery and other fees. As always, your dealer may sell for less.

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27 Comments on “Ace of Base: 2017 Toyota Yaris iA...”

  • avatar

    Thanks for not showing the front of this car – it’s truly hideous, even for Toyota. Otherwise, this makes a great first car.

  • avatar

    The iA nails all the stuff that any car guy would appreciate: sharp steering, a well set up chassis, and a terrific manual. There isn’t much engine, but this car makes the most of the power it has. And it’s cheap.

    One of the best small cars you can buy, at any price.

    • 0 avatar

      And tagging it with the Yaris name ensures it will be lot poison, so it oughta be easy to deal (although admittedly there’s not a lot of slop to work with at this MSRP).

  • avatar

    ye gads this is an amazingly ugly nay nightmare fuel of design

    surely just buy the Mazda 2 sedan and this thing wont haunt your nightmares—ipm/sedan/gt/mazda2_sedan_gt_36c_meteor-grey-mica_front-3-4.png

    its a fairly safe bet the mazda 2/3 as long as you dont live in a snow area or are allergic to tight service intervals

  • avatar

    This breaks my personal rule about forcing sedans into too small a package (needs to be a hatch), but that looks like a pretty good value to me.

    For comparison, that’s about the same price as the 1995 VW Golf Sport I bought as my first car (NOT adjusted for inflation). Minimum wage was $4.25 an hour. I had TWO airbags — yep, not just one like most of the competition. 14″ alloy wheels. GTI plaid seats. 115hp 2.0. Tape deck. Creedence.

    I’m always amazed at how far your money can go today. Despite all the talk of wage stagnation and cost of living, there are a few bright areas and cars are among them — assuming we don’t all succumb to affluenza and demand something nicer.

    • 0 avatar

      People love to complain cars have gotten too expensive but yet, we still can buy really decent sub compacts for ~$16k. Honda Fit, Cruze, Focus…all reasonably priced and meet much more stringent 2017 safety specs.

    • 0 avatar

      This is very true (car buying power). I was helping the stepdaughter search Honda Accord Coupes, and you can easily get a 2012 with 50k miles for less than 11k. A sedan is a bit more, but gently used Camry’s are even cheaper. A person who must spend less than $220 a month in this country can drive for 10+ years in something safe and economical, but they will probably go get a used Rogue that needs a CVT replacement.

      The evil hand behind it all? Market forces.

      My guess is the SUV/CUV rush has DECIMATED car prices, even the best of the Japanese brands.

    • 0 avatar

      It came with a Creedence tape?

      I’d have bought two.

  • avatar

    I just discovered that in Canads it seems that the Yaris iA is only available in province of Quebec… I wonder why that is considering that the Yaris hatch can be had nation wide?

    This would explain why I have yet to see one of these cars in Ontario since the debut.

  • avatar

    Ugly face aside, this is my favorite cheap car of the moment. And the iM.

  • avatar

    This is really, really similar to the “old” Corolla, even the “old” Camry if you go back far enough.

    Just an observation, not a good or bad thing.

    • 0 avatar

      To my eyes, it looks like a descendant of the two most recent iterations of the Toyota Tercel. I wish they had used the Tercel nameplate for this car, I think it would’ve been a great fit.

      • 0 avatar

        Nah fancy alloys and “sporting” styling are totally un-Tercel. Throw some fat donut tires on silver painted wheels longer springs and softer dampers, unpainted scratch-resistance bumpers on there, now we’re talking.

        • 0 avatar

          I’m surprised that it has alloys. Seems like the perfect candidate for some 15″ steel wheels and a slightly lower price.

          The iA is pretty nice looking compared to something like the Escape S (which screams base model with its Amber air dam lighting and steelies with wheel covers)

  • avatar
    Kyree S. Williams

    What would stop me from buying one of these is a Cruze LS or even a moderately-equipped Elantra discounted to the $15 – $16K range, which does happen.

    • 0 avatar

      This. I get the ‘car guy’ angle of the iA, but I think the more typical shopper will appreciate the stronger powertrain, larger interior, and higher degree of comfort and isolation of a current cheaper compact.

  • avatar

    The iA and iM are 10 times more attractive to me wearing a Toyota badge than a Scion badge.

    Why? I don’t know, can’t put my finger on it…

  • avatar
    Arthur Dailey

    1) Matthew, yes this vehicle has all the right options for the demographic. And as you stated will hold its resale value. An ‘Ace’.
    2) Is it just my age or does anyone else detest having screens ‘standing up’ in the middle of the dash? I cannot stand that look.
    3) Matthew, I guess that you never heard of Ed’s Warehouse. The highly successful restaurant that was operated by ‘Honest’ Ed Mirvish the legendary Toronto entrepreneur. Ed ran that restaurant for over 3 decades, serving only roast beef. From the Historic Toronto site: “The menu was pre-set, to reduce costs. Thick, juicy, prime rib was accompanied by mashed potatoes, green peas, Yorkshire pudding, and gravy. Garlic bread and dill pickles were also included. The dessert was spumoni ice cream. Critics jokingly stated that the menu was so easy to prepare that Ed had fired his chef and gave the job to the parking attendant. In the 1970s, when the Mirvish restaurants were at their height of popularity, they had a combined capacity of 2300 seats and often served 6000 meals a day. In this same decade, Toronto Calendar Magazine, which later merged with Toronto Life, sponsored a contest to determine the best restaurant in the financial district. Over 10,000 people voted, and out of the 21 restaurants listed, Ed’s Warehouse was #1.” So a limited menu can work. And Ed required that all male dinners at his Warehouse wear a jacket and tie.
    4) Why oh why am I still having so much trouble signing in to this site?

    • 0 avatar
      Gardiner Westbound

      “Is it just my age or does anyone else detest having screens ‘standing up’ in the middle of the dash? I cannot stand that look.”

      I shared your point of view until I drove a friend’s Mazda 3 with the same design. It’s surprisingly attractive and ergonomic, much better than it appears in photos.

      • 0 avatar

        This is good to know, so now I need to drive one and see.

        For the past two new car shows, I’ve drooled over the MX-5 until I sat in it…and went “no”. These screens just cannot age well. Even Mazda’s CD-shaped radios kind of still look ok because actual buttons.

        Mazdas screens seem like the next version of Pontiac’s steering wheel keyboards or the Mustang’s lite-brite car health pict-o-gram. Anyone remember those? If not, there’s a reason.

    • 0 avatar

      It’s not just you. To me it looks like someone duct taped a cheap tablet to the dashboard after cutting a hole with a reciprocating saw.

  • avatar

    Where are all these kids who get brand new cars as a first car? Not sure I have ever met one, and I grew up in an EXTREMELY wealthy town. Though of course Yankees are notoriously tight, so maybe it is a Midwestern thing? This sort of thing (bought new at least) is driven almost exclusively by the retired set where I am from. And where I live currently, for that matter. At least assuming I don’t get washed/blown away by Irma.

  • avatar

    Limited inventory in my neck-of-the-woods, so you get steered towards a Corolla. Forget the $0 hues. Better than the French-built hatch cause you get 6-sp manual or slush. Seat squabs are a bit short.

  • avatar

    ‘great colors spanning the spectrum ‘ ? There are black, grey, silver, white, red… and a couple of blues.

    Hardly a spectrum, I was hoping for a shade of yellow, green or even a burnt orange. And yes, I understand that many base vehicles only come in a couple of colors unless one buys a higher trim line, but still a limited selection.

    I love to see your articles Matthew. There is a dearth of reporting on these. This is my pool of cars. And would definitely be on my list. Even more significant: I’ve never purchased a foreign branded make before.

    But it won’t be in black, white or silver.

  • avatar

    If I got one of these, I’d take a trip to Mexico (or Quebec) and bay the Mazda Parts! The Mazda2 is really a nice little car! I wish the MX5 had that face!

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