Toyota Yaris iA
An Unexpected Discovery
By Ron Amadon
DAMASCUS, MD. – Can one still find an economical, well equipped, fun-to-drive compact car at a more than affordable price? Say well under $20K?
Yes! It is called the Toyota Yaris iA and that might stand for interesting ancestors.
The family tree works like this. iA is a carry-over from the Scion brand that has been discontinued. Yaris is a moniker for another Toyota small car, but it is a distant cousin.
What we really have here is a sedan version of the updated Mazda 2, a model that is no longer available in the U.S. Mazda makes the iA for Toyota and once you step inside you will see familiar Mazda touches such as the versatile 7-inch screen and the center console mounted controls that are instantly recognizable as right out the Mazda parts bin.
Because Mazda builds cars that are entertaining, hence the “driving matters” slogan, this smartly styled sedan made running errands in suburbia quite enjoyable.
A Mazda 1.5-liter four with 106 Hp @ 6,000 rpm and 103 lb-ft of torque @ 4,000 rpm is the one and only power plant.
MPG comes to 30 in the city, 39 highway and 34 combined. I registered a very nice 36.3 mpg. Regular unleaded, of course.
Buyers have a choice of a 6-speed automatic that might be the proper selection if you spend a great deal of time in traffic jams. If you don’t, let me recommend the 6-speed delightful stick shift.
That old measurement, 0-60 is in the high eight second range, yet not unusual for an economy sedan. The 1.5-liter four did like to rev egged on by the stick and once you get up to interstate speed, the noise level abates to a level not expected in this price range.
How? Well the sixth cruising gear kept rpms low, but encounter a long, steep hill, and you will be quickly and easily downshifting to gears five or four.
Here is the nicest feature of the interior. All controls are easily reachable and a cinch to decipher.
The front seats were comfortable with more than adequate room all around. Two demerits for the lack of a center console arm rest, and cup holders that Mrs. Auto Evaluator thought were too far to the rear.
Entering the back seats took a bit of athleticism with knee and leg room at a premium if a six foot tall human occupied the front seat. Fold those 60/40 split seats down, and there was an abundant 13.5 cubic feet of storage. Leave them up, and there is still a fairly deep storage area with a lid to discourage potential thieves.
Neat features included keyless entry, halogen headlamps, power outside mirrors with LED turn signal indicators, AC, rear view backup camera, power windows and locks, audio controls on the steering wheel, and a standard low speed pre-collision safety system. You would pay more for many of these items in Yaris iA competitors.
With zero options and $865 for transportation added in, the test Yaris carried a more than reasonable MSRP of $16,815.
By the way, don’t go looking for the options table. Other than the dealer installed navi there are none. Everything that is offered is standard and that’s not a bad way to sell cars, especially economy sedans.
Despite the modest power, the iA was fun on curve infested back roads with quick steering, a rev happy four and that lovely manual shift.
In fact, it set me to wondering. If Toyota were to drop a little turbo on that four, perhaps some beefier tires, and a light rework of the suspension, then knock out the rear seats, and add a sporty convertible body would you not the have the MR2?
(Goodness, I miss that car!)
Tire Size 185/60R16
Wheelbase 101.2 inches
Overall Length 171.7 inches
Overall Width 66.7 inches
Overall Height 58.5 inches
Tread Width (Front/Rear) (inches) 58.9/ 58.5
Wheel Size 16-IN / 5.5J Alloy
Wheel Type and Material Alloy
Ground Clearance 5.5 inches