Just when Toyota’s Yaris finally adorned the name of a fun car, the brand kills it.
It was once the Scion iA, but a couple years ago, Toyota bestowed it with the Yaris moniker after retiring the Scion brand. Once attached to underwhelming subcompacts, the name was now slapped on the side of a more-fun small car.
It’s not shocking that the brand killed the Mazda 2-based Yaris sedan. The culprits? Slow sales and new regulations.
Slow sales is a big story in the subcompact class, and in 2019 the Yaris was down 5,000 units from the year before. Coronavirus may have ushered the Yaris out the door, too, since Toyota planned to limit North American production to adjust to the difficulties posed by the pandemic.
Bad news to share — especially for those of you enamored with cheap, entry-level passenger cars. The Toyota Yaris sedan and hatchback will vanish after the 2020 model year.
Reworked versions of the Mazda 2, the guppy-faced Yarises greeted North American buyers in two phases after the “real” Yaris bowed out, first as a sedan and later as a hatchback. Get one while you can.
You won’t like it when it’s angry. Actually, you might, as the Toyota Yaris Cross small crossover seems to have not a mean bone in its body.
Boasting just three cylinders underhood whether in gas-only or hybrid guise, the Yaris Cross is what happens when enthusiasm for subcompact hatchbacks starts to wane, but the automaker doesn’t want to spoil what it already has going for it in that segment.
It’s been a minute since the fish-mouthed Yaris sedan has been seen in the Ace of Base arena. Closely related to the not-for-us Mazda 2, the littlest Toyota does its best to quash the bad old days of entry-level econoboxes.
Just make sure to park the thing front-in at every parking space, please.
Toyota has teased the upcoming GR Yaris Prototype, scheduled to debut at the Rally Australia on November 17th. Based on the TNGA Yaris, we’re unlikely to see it stateside. However, Toyota expanding its Gazoo Racing lineup is still good news. The bigger it gets, the more likely we are to finally get one here.
Dubbed the GR-4, the vehicle appears to be a homologation car, allowing Toyota to run in the 2020 World Rally Championship. That WRC connection also means all-wheel drive and an amped-up powertrain are practically guaranteed.
With the debut relatively near, Toyota isn’t interested in giving away many details. But we can clearly see from the teaser image that the GR-4 has some seriously flared wheel arches — at least in the rear — and a lowered roofline. It’s going to be a very different animal from any Yaris previously encountered.
As much as it pains us to say it, manual transmissions are on their way out. While car enthusiasts bemoan the matter incessantly, as we just did, the reality is that most drivers aren’t interested in owning something with a stick. It’s gotten to a point where many automakers no longer offer vehicles with a manual transmission, or just keep one high-performance model around with an optional clutch pedal just to appease a subset of their customer base.
Toyota, which sells more manual models than most, recently spilled its guts to CarBuzz after the outlet requested the company reveal the percentage of its new cars still sold with a manual while attending the Supra launch event.
The resulting figures are about what you’d expect.
The first quarter of 2019 reflected a long-predicted cooling off of U.S. auto sales, with volume falling 2 percent. A few automakers bucked the trend, but the news was generally unpleasant. Of course, rising average transaction prices and a bevy of high-margin trucks, SUVs, and crossovers softened the blow for those who got their lineups in order ahead of time.
One segment that gets very little attention — for many reasons — is the lowest rung of all: subcompact cars, which traditionally provide a stepping stone for buyers just entering the market. Many journos bemoan the loss of low-priced cars, claiming relatively cash-strapped Millennials stand to be priced out of the new vehicle market by rising MSRPs and interest rates. It’s true — the herd is thinning, with the last quarter bringing about the death of the Chevrolet Cruze. (This writer actually bought one; the jury’s out if anyone else out there did.)
Still, despite the industry flux, some nameplates continue to earn the love of buyers who choose to spend as little as possible on a new car.
Badge-engineering is nothing new under the sun, especially for those of us who lived through Detroit’s offerings in the 1980s. Here in the 21st century, all hands are getting in on the action, with Toyotas appearing as Subarus and Nissans appearing as Chevys. This time around, the Big T is continuing to forge a relationship with Mazda, applying its Yaris nameplate to a small Hiroshima hatchback.
They’ve done more than just slap a badge on the thing, of course. Like the Yaris sedan, Toyota has grafted a tribute to the whisker fish to the 2’s nose during a fit of reconstructive surgery.
It’s already half here. The Toyota Yaris sedan, formerly the Scion iA, is the rebadged twin of the subcompact Mazda launched in Montreal in 2015. You’ll note that Mazda does not sell a second-generation 2 in North America, making that launch a relatively pointless endeavor for the automaker.
Now that Toyota has gone ahead and killed off the Toyota Yaris hatch (the Yaris that’s actually a Toyota), a space has opened up. Chances are good that the little hatch we didn’t get in 2015 will finally arrive in 2020, bearing another brand’s logo.
In a less-than-shocking turn of events, Toyota has confirmed to CarsDirect that its Yaris Liftback, a slow-selling model that managed to score itself a facelift a few years back, is dead in the United States.
Official confirmation of the model’s discontinuation came from Toyota spokesperson Nancy Hubbell. Starting at $16,565 after destination, the diminutive hatch’s sales paled in comparison to that of its Mazda-based namesake, the Yaris sedan. To all observers, the Yaris hatch was a dead car … driving.
America's Subcompact Car Market Is Now Just Half the Size It Was Three Years Ago, and It's Falling Fast
America’s demand for subcompact cars tumbled 26 percent in 2018, yet another result that points to the eventual demise of all but a few B-segment cars.
2018’s sharp drop – equal to roughly 94,000 fewer sales in the core eight-car subcompact category – follows an equally harsh decline in 2017, when the segment lost more than 95,000 units. Led by a sharp reduction in sales of the top-selling Nissan Versa and year-over-year percentage declines of more than 29 per cent for the Chevrolet Sonic, Honda Fit, Hyundai Accent, Toyota Prius C, and Toyota Yaris, the category’s volume has fallen 48 percent since 2014.
And before you say, “Well, cars are all unpopular these days,” keep 2018’s five million-plus car buyers in mind. Car buyers do, in fact, still exist.
But subcompact car buyers are disappearing much, much faster than car buyers at large. And it may well be because the product execution of subcompact cars is really rather poor.
Toyota has been exceptionally vocal about its desire to spice up the brand and, for the most part, it has delivered. Expressive, sometimes polarizing, designs have begun populating its lineup as company president Akio Toyoda endlessly talks up the merit of sporting vehicles. While other chief executives focus solely on promoting mobility, he’s discussing the importance of building fun-to-drive cars.
The company’s motorsports group, Gazoo Racing (GR), has even started cranking out tuned versions of the brand’s road cars. However, none of them have made it to North America — nor will they. Despite all of Toyoda’s seemingly earnest talk of performance models, the United States hasn’t seen it manifest into anything tangible.
Considering Toyota also decided not to offer GR models in the U.S., and with cost-cutting measures making the 86 coupe a potential candidate for discontinuation, Akio’s grand vision doesn’t look particularly robust in the West.
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.
At the instant noodle end of the Toyota showroom, cars come in three flavors: Good, Better, and Mildly Spicy (L, LE, SE). Within these trims, few options are offered, unlike domestic truck manufacturers who very nearly allow their customers to order their rigs a la carte. Of course, there’s a lot more profit in trucks, so they’re worth the trouble.
The littlest Toyota, which definitely wins an award for Most Entertaining Windshield Wiper, is now packed to the gunwales compared to the cheap seats hawked by the manufacturer in past years.
Three years ago, I stood in the Palais des congrès in Montreal as representatives from Mazda Canada introduced the next-generation Mazda 2, a model that never made it to either Canadian or American dealer lots. Well, not as a Mazda, anyway.
The 2015 Montreal International Auto Show debut of the KODO-ified little hatchback was hardly on the same level as, say, that of the next-gen Ram 1500 or Chevrolet Silverado or Ford Ranger we saw last week in Detroit. Still, the previous 2 endeared itself to buyers as a roomy, agile, and quirky little beast, and the redesigned model looked sharp. All good. Certainly, small cars weren’t nearly in as much danger from subcompact crossovers in 2015 as they are now.
So it was odd to see the model disappear from the future lineup on both sides of the border, only to return almost immediately as a Scion-badged sedan, the iA.
The one-car iA line, now sporting a Toyota badge, soldiers on alongside the existing three- and five-door Yaris — the Yaris that isn’t a Mazda — for the 2018 model year. But it’s in 2019 that things get confusing.
Latest Car ReviewsRead more
Latest Product ReviewsRead more
- MaintenanceCosts This is a Volvo EX90 with swoopier styling and less interior room. I'm really not sure I understand the target audience.
- Stuki Moi If government officials, and voters, could, like, read and, like, count and, like, stuff: They'd take the opportunity to replace fixed license numbers, with random publicly available keys derived from a non-public private key known only to them and the vehicle's owner. The plate's displayed number would be undecipherable to every slimeball out there with a plate reader who is selling people's whereabouts and movements, since it would change every day/hour/minute. Yet any cop with a proper warrant and a plate scanner, could decipher it just as easily as today.
- Dukeisduke Is this the one that doesn't have a back window? Like a commercial van?
- MaintenanceCosts My rant seems to have disappeared, but suffice it to say I agree with 28 that this is a vehicle about which EVERYTHING is wrong.
- SCE to AUX Welcome to the most complicated vehicle you can buy, with shocking depreciation built into every one.And that tail - oh, my.