2016 Toyota Yaris – Review

2016 Toyota Yaris - this sub-compact 4-door sedan exceeds our expectations. Highly recommended

2016 Toyota Yaris – this sub-compact 4-door sedan exceeds our expectations. Highly recommended

We had a chance to drive the 2016 Toyota Yaris and frankly, it exceeded our expectations.

The Yaris is Toyota’s least expensive sedan that’s sold in Canada.

Our test unit was a base model with a cloth interior and automatic transmission.  The base price of the sedan with AT is $18,200.  Despite our test unit being the classic ‘stripper’ model, the Yaris sedan comes very nicely equipped, with remote, keyless entry, push button ignition, power windows and door locks, cruise control, and air conditioning.  One instant give away this is a low priced car is its steel wheels and hubcaps, which is no big deal for the cost conscious buyer.

The Yaris’ body style is all new for 2016, and the sheetmetal is surprisingly aggressive (for Toyota.)  There’s a gaping, large grille, a sculpted upswept character line on the side, and a sloping, long-ish rear roofline that visually accentuates the car’s length.

To my eye, this is a handsome car.

Powertrain

Toyota uses its tried-and-true 1.5-litre DOHC 4-cylinder engine, with a surprisingly high 12.0:1 compression ratio.  This small, efficient engine puts our a modest 106 horsepower and 103 lb. ft. of torque.

Don’t dismiss the Yaris as an under powered econo-box.  Toyota has wisely (and finally) ditched the archaic 4-speed automatic transmission that was optional in the last gen Yaris and replaced it with a modern, 6-speed automatic.  The extra two gears allows the 1.5-litre engine to make the most efficient use of its power, giving the sedan smart acceleration from a stop while dropping engine rpms on the highway for maximum fuel efficiency.

On the road

Getting into the Yaris and familiarizing ones self with the controls is typical Toyota – it takes a nanosecond to get comfortable and the car’s controls are instantly intuitive.  Kudos to Toyota’s interior designers for keeping the controls simple.  Too many cars these days take much too long to ‘learn’ basic controls because many designers have mistakenly embraced touchscreen-operated and menu-driven screens.  Blech.

2016 Toyota Yaris instrumentation - simple, easy to read, easy to use

2016 Toyota Yaris instrumentation – simple, easy to read, easy to use

A nice touch in the Yaris is its push button start.  There’s no need to fumble with keys.  Slip the transmission into Drive and the sedan responds well to throttle input in the normal mode; there’s a Sport button which quickens throttle response and holds gears longer to keep engine revs up, but even to avowed car enthusiasts, this seems more gimmicky than useful.

Realistically, the Yaris is a subcompact that’s bought for economy, and using the Sport transmission mode just causes more engine noise and uses more fuel.  Why bother?  The Yaris is enjoyable to drive in the Normal mode, and that’s where we kept it 99.9-percent of the time.

Handling is surprisingly good.  The 2016 Yaris is apparently a joint venture with Mazda and the Toyota’s ‘architecture’ is based on the Mazda2.  Mazda, as we all know, is renown for its ‘Zoom-zoom’ engineering philosophy, and that’s a good thing.  (I’ve NEVER driven a Mazda that wasn’t at or near the top of its class in the handling department.)  Drive the Yaris into a corner with a modicum of aggression and it responds with stable, predictable assurance.  No, its not sport sedan sharp such as a Mazda3, but it’s surprisingly good and far superior to the previous generation of Yaris.

Aggressive front fascia styling has a familial resemblance to to the 'spindle' grille of upscale corporate cousins at Lexus

Aggressive front fascia styling has a familial resemblance to to the ‘spindle’ grille of upscale corporate cousins at Lexus

Size

One of the big surprises is how big the Yaris sedan looks from the outside and how spacious it feels inside.  My Dad (who’s owned two Mazda3 GTs and now drives a Volkswagen Golf Sportwagen), has dismissed older generations of Yaris as ‘too small.’  The pleasant suprise is the 2016 Yaris feels about as big as the one size larger Mazda3.

Fuel economy

The 2016 Toyota Yaris (with 6-speed automatic transmission) has an official fuel economy rating of 7.2/5.6 L/100 km (city/hwy).

Our observed fuel economy was a very good 8.5 L/100 km, comprised mainly of city driving in mild, winter conditions (and with winter tires, which have higher rolling resistance and therefore use more fuel than lower rolling resistance summer or ‘all-season’ tires.)

Conclusion

Overall, I really liked the 2016 Toyota Yaris sedan.  It drives very nicely in city traffic, is superbly fuel efficient, and best of all, it’s a Toyota.  That’s money in the bank.

Likes

  • Fuel efficiency
  • Push button start
  • Modern 6-speed automatic transmission
  • Price point
  • It’s a Toyota

Dislikes

  • Heated seats are optional
  • Heated steering wheel not available

 

 

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