The 2018 Yaris is the Toyota brand s least expensive model and offers both three-door and five-door body styles in two grades, L and LE, in addition to the five-door Sporty SE. Manual transmission is available on the three-door L and the five-door SE. Toyota photo

Toyota Yaris: A small car seeking recognition

Answer a quick question quickly:

What Toyota car comes to mind?


Think smaller.





Uhhhh …

Therein lies a problem for Toyota. When we are looking for the answer of Yaris, few people in America have a similar thought. At least for the liftback version. The sedan, which is called Yaris IA, is a carryover from the shuttered Scion fold. Its sales strike a chord in the United States with nearly 16,000 units sold in this year’s first half. The Yaris lift back? Not so much. Only 871 units were sold here from January to June.

Those numbers do not mean that consideration should not be given to the Yaris. Like any hatchback, there is the plus of versatility. Even though the car is less than 13 feet in length, there is a decent amount of cargo area with 15.3 cubic feet of space behind the rear seat.

There is also a nice array of safety features as part of package that includes lane departure warning and automatic high beams. Toyota still has hope for the Yaris as evidenced by a revamped exterior from grille, fascia, bumper and taillights.

Yaris hatchbacks come in L, LE and SE trims, the first two in three- and five-door models and the SE in five-door only. Pricing begins at $15,635, which is a few hundred bucks less than the sedan. We drove the SE with an automatic transmission, which has the highest base price of $19,060.

Only one engine is offered, a 106-horsepower, 1.5-liter 4-cylinder. While a five-speed manual transmission is standard, our tester had the four-speed automatic. This does not make for an electrifying combination, but any disappointment in performance is at least mitigated at the pump where benefits are realized from EPA mileage ratings of 30 mpg/city and 35 mpg/highway.

As with any subcompact, space for back-seat riders is going to be an issue. Recalling the cargo hold, the back seat does fold, opening up even more space.

The SE has a seven-inch touchscreen for infotainment features and the Scout Navigation app. The leather-wrapped steering wheel comes with audio and cruise controls.

Toyota may not be running away from the competition with the Yaris, but neither is it shying away. While the numbers might not show it in the U.S., the revisions made for 2018 show that it is still in the game in other parts of the world.

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