Taken objectively, the Toyota Yaris isn’t the best car among its peers. In the last few years, the Yaris ceded major tracts of its once-lonely sandbox to new competition. To fully understand the 2015 Yaris, I drove one for a week, and came away with a fresh impression of Toyota’s subcompact hatch.
Toyota is touting the new attitude of the Yaris. The company tasked its French design studio with bringing a little hot hatch flair to the party. That’s mostly marketing hyperbole, but the car does look a lot better than it used to. What’s more, the seats and interior materials have been upgraded, the body is more rigid, there’s more sound insulation, and the suspension is retuned. There’s even a 44-pound curb-weight reduction.
I drove the five-door Yaris LE, the mid-level trim between the basic L and more ‘sporty’ SE. It rings the register at $17,708 with destination; a price that puts it in the meat of a fiercely competitive class of vehicles. The biggest surprise is that I like it. A lot. I thought it was going to be miserable, but it’s disarmingly competent. It’s just a car – maybe not much of a car in total – but the Yaris is satisfyingly comfortable in its own skin. Instead of trying to be a smartphone on wheels, the Yaris is simple and easy. Every component just does what it’s supposed to do.