2015 Toyota Yaris SE Manual and Automatic Review

Dec 27th

The midcycle refresh is aimed at keeping a vehicle line on shopping lists until the next major makeover. It’s often confined to cosmetics, but there are times when the investment would be more effective upgrading elements of the car that are invisible but tangible.

Case in point: the 2015 Toyota Yaris. It does a fair impression of being a new car with more expressive styling, fresh taillights, a reshaped rear bumper, and a number of interior upgrades. But unchanged is the critical area in which the Yaris has trailed subcompact leaders like the Honda Fit, the Ford Fiesta, and the Chevrolet Sonic. That would be the powertrain. Toyota sends the refreshed model out with the same anemic long-stroke 1.5-liter four-cylinder that’s been banging around since 2000. It’s mated to the same five-speed manual, and the same four-speed automatic, that have served since the 2007 Yaris replaced the unloved Echo.

Compared with other engines offered in this class—say the Fit’s 130-hp 1.5-liter direct-injected four or the Fiesta’s 123-hp direct-injected three-cylinder turbo—the port-injected Toyota is distinctly behind the times. Straining to make 106 horsepower, it sounds industrial when pressed, which would be most of the time.

But the real anachronism is that four-speed self-shifter. It not only trails the segment’s automatics in forward speeds (we include the CVTs), its old-fashioned zig-zag shift gate also lacks a manual shift function. Complete review on www.caranddriver.com, by TONY SWAN

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