2015 Toyota Yaris Review

Dec 31st

Among the more memorable advertising slogans of recent years—at least to us—was the “It’s a car!” tagline that Toyota attached to its 2012 Yaris, which was initially advertised exclusively online. Here was pure truth in advertising, with absolutely zero overstatement. It should have won an award.

At the same time, the sleeping giants that are Toyota’s design and engineering departments were in the midst of crafting effective redesigns of the brand’s core products, including the Avalon, Highlander, and Camry. The humble Yaris eventually came in for its midcycle 2015 refresh, and we were brought to the Big Island of Hawaii to see whether it has been injected with some life or if it’s still, well, just a car.

The design department, for its part, went to freakin’ town on the thing, creating a new cross-your-heart schnoz that looks like a combination of a sports bra and the Darth Vader Hot Wheels. (In Toyota-land, it also shares some influence from the X-Men-tastic new Aygo.) The optics of the rear end have been refined a bit with the addition of amber turn signals in the combination lenses and a little bitty diffuser-type thing in the rear bumper. Yaris SE models get sassy LED running lamps up front, as well as techno-looking black and silver 16-inch wheels. While beauty is always in the eye of the beholder and we expect that the taste police would probably prefer the aesthetics of the outgoing model, credit must be issued to Toyota stylists for not bunting on this refresh.

There wasn’t much to get excited about inside the previous Yaris—we were merely happy to have the gauges moved to their proper place in front of the driver. But for the 2015, Toyota has worked in some additional soft-touch materials on the dash and the doors, added brightwork to LE and SE trim levels, given all models a new center console, and beefed up some of the hard plastics that used to flex disconcertingly under slight pressure. All models get a 6.1-inch touch screen for Toyota’s app-based infotainment system, as well as six speakers, HD radio, a USB port with iPod control, and Bluetooth phone, voice-recognition, and music-steaming capability. All of this is notable in a class of car where the mere presence of a radio isn’t always guaranteed. Seat fabrics have also taken a step up in quality, but the whole doesn’t feel better than class average unless you spring for the SE model, which gets its own instrument cluster, a leather-wrapped steering wheel and shifter, and contrast stitching. Complete review on www.caranddriver.com, by STEVE SILER

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