2019 Toyota Yaris Sedan: So Long, Scion, Part 2
With Monday’s announcement of a refreshed 2019 Yaris sedan comes the last shovelful of dirt heaped on Scion’s grave. Toyota has an updated version of the subcompact four-door ready for an official unveiling at this week’s New York International Auto Show, but don’t go looking for that tell-tale “iA” model nameplate. It’s gone.
The complicated history of Toyota’s smallest sedan begins with the automaker’s defunct youth brand, Scion. As the brand grew more confused (and mainstream), Toyota borrowed the recently introduced second-generation Mazda 2 sedan, slapped a Scion badge on it, and rolled out the iA. Mazda had second thoughts about offering the car in this market, making the iA and the CX-3 the only domestic adopters of the car’s platform.
For Scion, grafting a large, unusual grille onto the wee car proved sufficient in de-KODO-ifying the model. During the inaugural 2016 model year, however, Toyota grimly loaded a single round into its shotgun, took the Scion brand behind the barn, and did what it had to do. The two newest Scion models — iA and iM — kept their model names and took up residence in the Yaris and Corolla lineups for 2017, adopting their sibling’s name as a prefix (despite not sharing the same architecture).
Now, both models enter 2019 free of vestigial Scion badging.
The Yaris sedan, as it’s now called, intends to make friends in the subcompact field with boosted content and a real trim ladder. No longer will buyers choose from just “manual” or “automatic.” A base L model join LE and XLE trims in offering buyers new ways to outfit the little [s]Mazda[/s] Toyota.
As you can see from the photo above, Toyota hasn’t taken a large scalpel to the Yaris sedan’s face. The gulping grille remains, reminding this author of an ornery fish, though this time it’s filled with a new mesh (instead of the horizontal slats of previous generation). On LE and XLE trims, inboard fog lamps tuck into the lower corners of the sedan’s maw. Going by last year’s photos, the 16-inch wheels carry over unchanged.
Toyota seems pretty pleased with itself in offering a premium trim level for the Yaris sedan. In XLE guise, the model sees pretty any interior surface you’re likely to rest your hand swathed in leather (the seats gain letherette), while automatic climate control comes standard. Automatic LED headlights, rain-sensing wipers and illuminated entry round out the list of niceties. Like the LE, XLE models also feature mirror-mounted turn signals, heated outside mirrors, and a rear lip spoiler.
All Yaris sedans see push-button ignition as standard kit, with a smart key entry system offered to LE and XLE buyers. Even entry level buyers gain a low-speed pre-collision system.
As before, owners access infotainment functions through a 7-inch touchscreen. It seems Toyota also kept its hands off the powertrain, with remains a 1.5-liter inline-four generating 106 horsepower and 103 lb-ft of torque. The Mazda-derived chassis, plus its feathery 2,485-pound curb weight (for stick shift models), makes this model more fun than one might realize. Certainly, the nimble, 100 hp Mazda 2 of yesteryear was hard to dislike.
Buyers can pair that 1.5-liter with a six-speed manual transmission or six-speed auto. Fuel economy ratings also carry over unchanged, with the automatic-equipped model offering 40 mpg on the highway and 35 mpg combined. Drop those figures by 1 mpg for the stick shift version.
Unfortunately, there’s no new word on a mystery we told you about earlier this year. In VIN coding documents filed to the NHTSA by Mazda in January for the 2019 model year, it appeared as though Toyota planned to introduce a five-door version of the Toyota Yaris iA. Maybe we’ll hear something about that in New York.
In the meantime, just know that for 2019, the U.S.-market Yaris sedan now carries the same name as the version sold in Canada and Puerto Rico. The updated model goes on sale this fall.
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