The Yaris has been rolling down U.S. streets since 2007. Coming as both a three-door hatchback and four-door sedan, Toyota’s smallest car proved to be a popular choice for in-city commuting and those on a budget. Then in 2012, the second-generation Yaris debuted, bringing more refinement and better looks. The sedan version was dropped in favor of a new five-door hatchback version. The three-door and five-door versions soldiered on for three years with minimal changes. For 2015, the Yaris gets an extensive mid-cycle refresh, complete with edgy styling, more sound deadening for decreased NVH, nine airbags, standard Entune infotainment system with available navigation, and more soft-touch materials as part of a redesigned interior.

I recently spent two days driving and getting to know the Yaris with the help of Toyota designers and engineers. The drive routes consisted mostly of smooth pavement along the salty Atlantic shore in Ponte Vedra Beach, Florida. A few broken sections of road told even more about the Yaris’ build quality.

What’s more, the Yaris’ handsome new styling and 16-inch allow wheels made the compact hatch feel more at home along the golf course and rows of mansions. Sure, no one will mistake the Yaris for a PGA winner’s ride, but it certainly doesn’t stick out like a mullet at a black tie event.

Click past the jump for the full review of the new 2015 Toyota Yaris

  • 2015 Toyota Yaris - Driven
  • Year:
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  • Engine:
  • Transmission:
    five-speed manual
  • Horsepower @ RPM:
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  • Displacement:
    1.5 L
  • 0-60 time:
    9.0 sec. (Est.)
  • Top Speed:
    110 mph (Est.)
  • Layout:
    Front Engine; FWD
  • Price:
  • Price:
  • car segment:
  • body style:


2015 Toyota Yaris - Driven High Resolution Exterior
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2015 Toyota Yaris - Driven High Resolution Exterior
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2015 Toyota Yaris - Driven High Resolution Exterior
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A single reverse light lies across the lower valance and a small spoiler sits atop the rear window.

Compact hatchbacks have always been funky looking cars with unique proportions and tall body lines. The same can be said for the 2015 Yaris. It somehow looks more grown up yet more youthful at the same time. It’s like a teenager with a Fu Manchu. The new grille, lower fascia, and headlights bring a new flair to the car not previously seen. It’s a very engaging look.

Around back, things aren’t quite as dramatic. A single reverse light lies across the lower valance and a small spoiler sits atop the rear window. Both add character to the Yaris. The tester I spent the most time in came equipped with the top-trim wheels: these 16-inch, black and machined finished ones you see above. They really look great with the “Absolutely Red” body color.

Fitting to its purpose, the Yaris offers great outward visibility with its large windows. Its tidy proportions allow for confident city driving and quick maneuverability.


2015 Toyota Yaris - Driven Interior
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2015 Toyota Yaris - Driven Interior
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2015 Toyota Yaris - Driven High Resolution Interior
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Perhaps my favorite aspect was the seats in this SE grade tester.

Second to the Yaris’ new nose, the interior updates top the list of improvements. Soft-touch materials are abound in more places than before, new seats with horizontal embroidery look very Volkswagen-like, chrome accents brighten up the cabin, and the standard audio comes with Toyota’s Entune system. The five-door model here offers a good amount of headroom for rear-seat passengers. Front seat space is large enough for folks nearing the six-foot mark. The upgraded dash has a new gauge cluster with easy-to-read markings and the new steering wheel feels more up-market.

There are a few complaints I had with the Yaris’ people space. First, there is no center armrest of any kind. There is enough room to install one, but one still doesn’t exists. Secondly, cup holder space is at a premium. That mostly has to do with the large emergency brake handle taking up the space between the seats. Other than that, the Yaris seems very user friendly

Perhaps my favorite aspects were the seats in this SE grade tester. The fabric is tightly woven and held together by accented stitching. Tall bolsters give a sportier feel while adding to the Yaris’ more premium look.


2015 Toyota Yaris - Driven Drivetrain
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While 106 horsepower doesn’t seem like a lot, the five-door tester I piloted felt plenty quick around town.

While the Yaris’ outward appearance and interior refinement are new for 2015, the greasy bits under the hood are basically carryover. The 1.5-liter inline four-cylinder still puts out 106 horsepower and 103 pound-feet of torque. A five-speed manual transmission is the standard unit on three-door models and a four-speed automatic is offered as an option. The automatic comes standard in all five-door models.

While 106 horsepower doesn’t seem like a lot, the five-door tester I piloted felt plenty quick around town. I didn’t get to spend any time at highway speeds, so I can’t say how the Yaris would handle an interstate jaunt.

It’s clear Toyota intends the Yaris to spend the majority of its life buzzing around city streets. The old-school four-speed automatic is not well suited for good highway fuel economy. Despite this, the Yaris still nears an estimated 35 mpg highway, but that number would likely increase with an increase in transmission range.


2015 Toyota Yaris - Driven High Resolution Exterior
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This is perhaps the best part of the Yaris. The base three-door Yaris with a manual transmission starts at $14,845. Add the automatic and the price jumps to $15,570. Opting for the top-trim LE in the five-door configuration, and the base price only jumps to $16,880. That’s a lot of car for the cash.

Driving Impressions

2015 Toyota Yaris - Driven Interior
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Toyota did a great job at reducing interior noise from tire hum and wind whistling.

The Yaris’ upgraded steering and larger 16-inch wheels make handling much more fun. The car is very tossable and is a blast to drive hard. Toyota did a great job at reducing interior noise from tire hum and wind whistling. Outward visibility is good and the short nose means an open view of the road ahead.

The sporty seats in my tester gave good support and felt very firm. Large bolsters keep front passengers in place as the car turns from side to side. A large dead pedal gives the driver an extra level of support while driving. Controls are all easy to use and come very easily to those familiar with Toyota products. The Entune system works well and offers available navigation.


Nissan Versa Note

2014 Nissan Versa Note High Resolution Exterior Wallpaper quality
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The Versa Note competes with the five-door Yaris on just about every level. A 1.6-liter inline four-cylinder makes 109 horsepower and 107 pound-feet of torque and powers either a five-speed manual or a CVT. A decent amount of cargo room lives behind the second row and passenger room is on par.

Even the starting price is competitive, basing out at $13,990.

Ford Fiesta

2014 Ford Fiesta High Resolution Exterior
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The Fiesta is perhaps the best-equipped car in the segment, with its upscale interior, smart exterior looks and relatively powerful 120-horse, 112 pound-foot 1.6-liter four-cylinder. The Ford also ups the ante with a six-speed automatic on so-equipped cars. A five-speed manual is still offered for those who want to row their own.

The Fiesta is a party on a budget, with a base price of $14,000. Check every box and the price only jumps to $18,800.


2015 Toyota Yaris - Driven High Resolution Exterior
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The Yaris makes a great alternative to larger, less fuel-efficient crossovers and smaller sedans. Its better looks and refined interior make it more competitive in the segment while still offering a great base price for those looking for an inexpensive ride. The Yaris’ nine airbags and standard electronic safety equipment makes it a great choice for first-time drivers.

Overall the Yaris proved to be a fun little car to toss around.

  • Leave it
    • * No center arm rest
    • * A four-speed automatic
    • * Can’t get the manual on upper trim levels
What do you think?
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