By on May 14, 2019

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.  (Read More…)

By on April 9, 2019

Image: Toyota

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. (Read More…)

By on April 2, 2019

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.

(Read More…)

By on January 30, 2019

public domain

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. (Read More…)

By on January 24, 2019

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.  (Read More…)

By on January 21, 2019

2017 Nissan Versa Note - Image: NissanAmerica’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.  (Read More…)

By on November 8, 2018

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.  (Read More…)

By on March 26, 2018

Image: Toyota

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. (Read More…)

By on February 14, 2018

2018 Toyota Yaris

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.

(Read More…)

By on January 20, 2018

2017 Toyota Yaris iA - Image: Toyota

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. (Read More…)

By on September 17, 2017

2017 Toyota C-HR Turkey assembly plant

Toyota has been the brand par excellence in terms of quality and reliability for as far back as many of us can remember. But, as value became its hallmark, someone decided to turn the excitement volume down to a faint whisper — breaking the knob off entirely in the mid-2000s, when the MR-2 and Celica were discontinued. Even with the company’s introduction of the 86 in 2013, its mainstream designs were about as safe a play as one could make.

If you haven’t noticed (let’s face it, you have) Toyota’s styling has changed immensely of late. The automaker has a new attitude and affixed angry gaping maws onto the core brand and added folds to the bodywork we never would have anticipated.

This wasn’t an accident. Toyota is intentionally trying to push the envelope in terms of design and rattle a few cages along the way. Akio Toyoda, president of Toyota Motor Co., decreed that boring cars would be a thing of past and has given designers the means in which to accomplish that goal.  (Read More…)

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…

(Read More…)

By on March 22, 2017

2018_toyota_yaris_01_12e90e8bedc710042b70543cfdc7b82c262cf824-1

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. (Read More…)

By on January 13, 2017

Toyota Yaris hot hatch

Toyota promised the world a Yaris hatchback that would valiantly rise above the role of a plain-Jane commuter car, and here it is.

Expected to premiere at the Geneva Motor Show this March, the high performance three-door subcompact borrows inspiration, parts, and probably a name from Toyota’s Gazoo racing division.  (Read More…)

By on December 14, 2016

Toyota Yaris Gazoo sketch

Hot on the heels of yesterday’s unveiling of the Toyota Gazoo Racing-crafted Yaris Gazoo WRC rally car, Toyota has said a road-going hot hatch for the common man is on the way.

The automaker’s European division let the news slip in Helsinki yesterday, confirming rumors swirling around a possible hot hatch variant of the brand’s staid subcompact.

Still, Toyota left many questions unanswered. (Read More…)

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