The Toyota Yaris is a five-seat, subcompact car available as either a three-door or five-door hatchback. Yaris touts utility, able handling and a simple design.
Yaris was completely redesigned for the 2012 model year. For 2013, Yaris gets only minor changes to the lineup of standard features. The 2013 Yaris comes standard with the previously optional Tech Audio sound system, which includes a CD player, auxiliary jack, USB port, Bluetooth phone and streaming audio capability and iPod connector.
Though it has seat belts for five, it's really a four-passenger vehicle.
Yaris comes in three trims: L, LE, and SE (five-door only). The base Yaris L and the top-line, sport-tuned Yaris SE come standard with a 5-speed manual gearbox. The optional 4-speed automatic transmission seems dated compared to the 6-speed automatics that come on other cars in this class.
Under the hood is a 1.5-liter four-cylinder engine that makes 106 horsepower at 6000 rpm and 103 pound-feet of torque in a broad curve peaking at 4200 rpm. A 0.29 coefficient of drag helps Yaris slip through the air.
Fuel economy is an EPA-estimated 30/37 mpg City/Highway with the 5-speed manual transmission, 30/36 mpg with the 4-speed automatic. These numbers are average for the subcompact class.
Electric power steering on the Yaris results in good road feel without losing easy low-speed maneuvering for parking in tight spaces. The suspension consists of MacPherson struts in front and torsion beam in back, for a decent ride and tighter corning. Standard wheel size on the L and LE models is 15 inches, while the SE gets 16-inch wheels and tires.
The Yaris SE is the hot rod of the lineup, with quicker steering, more expressive styling and a sportier interior. Its front disc brakes are larger, and it's fitted with alloy wheels and wider profile P195/50/R16 tires.
Yaris has nine airbags, including four curtain airbags. The front seats are as sporty and comfortable as any we've found in the class. The front seats feature Toyota's Advanced Whiplash Injury-Lessening (WIL) design, supporting the upper body from head to lower back. Like all new cars nowadays, the Yaris uses an impact-absorbing structure with high-strength steel to better distribute collision forces.
As a result, the Yaris is rated four out of a possible five stars in government crash testing for both overall crash protection and total frontal-impact protection, and five stars for total side-impact protection. Yaris is gets a top rating of Good in frontal-offset, side and roof strength tests from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, which is supported by the insurance industry.
Yaris competes against many attractive and efficient subcompact hatchbacks, including the Chevrolet Sonic, Ford Fiesta, Honda Fit, Nissan Versa.