2017 Toyota Yaris Driving Impressions

Economy-car buyers don’t usually put performance near the top of their preferences. That’s wise, because with either engine, the Yaris trails many rivals in friskiness.

Eking out satisfactory acceleration is possible only by keeping the hatchback’s engine revving fast. But past 3,000 rpm, that engine feels loud and strained. Noise is aggravated by the outmoded 4-speed automatic transmission. Higher-speed downshifts are both blaring and dramatic.

Overall, Yaris drivers get an old-fashioned driving experience. Performance does improve with the manual gearbox.

Two pluses: Ride comfort is comparatively good for a subcompact, while handling is better than might be expected. Well-tuned, if rather soft, springs limit the effect of bumps and ripply pavement. Roadholding improves with the SE’s stiffer suspension, without losing much ride quality.

Driving qualities are more appealing with the iA sedan, which feels perkier than the hatchback. Though the iA’s Mazda-built engine is identical to the hatchback’s in size, it’s entirely different, employing direct injection. With manual shift, an iA can feel almost like a low-budget sport sedan. Unlike the hatchback’s transmissions, both of the iA’s 6-speed units are excellent. Precise steering is well-weighted, and the taut iA suspension absorbs many trouble spots.

Fuel-efficiency could be better. Hatchbacks with 4-speed automatic are EPA-rated at only 30/35 mpg City/Highway, or 32 mpg Combined. With 5-speed manual, it’s 30/36/33 mpg. Gas mileage rises with the iA, EPA-rated with automatic at 32/40 mpg City/Highway, or 35 mpg Combined (30/39/34 mpg with manual).

* MSRP is the Manufacturer's Suggested Retail Price (MSRP) of the vehicle. Unless specifically indicated in the advertisement, MSRP does not include taxes, fees or other charges. Actual dealer pricing may vary. Consult your dealer for more information and complete details.

* The dealer advertised price may not reflect specific dealer offers, and may be subject to certain terms and conditions as indicated in the advertisement. Consult your dealer for more information and complete details.

* Images and options shown are examples, only, and may not reflect exact vehicle color, trim, options, pricing or other specifications.

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