Road Test: 2017 Toyota Yaris iA

Yaris iA is stands out in Toyota’s portfolio, not because of how it looks, but because of how it’s packaged. Yaris iA comes in one trim level with the only option being an automatic or manual transmission. This is because it was a Scion for a short period of time before the brand ended. Hence the iA name and roster of all standard equipment, a Scion trait.

The other unique is that this is the cheapest car currently on the market with standard auto emergency braking.

Ride and Handling
Yaris iA is based on a Mazda which therefore means it has to have a sporty demeanor. It in fact does, and we thoroughly enjoyed driving it on a 350 mile highway trip.

Handling is secure and the ride is overall smooth but choppy pavement can make the ride a bit bouncy.

Braking force is strong, smooth and linear.

Powertrain and Fuel Economy
The iA really inpresses when it comes to power delivery and fuel economy. Under the hood is a 1.5L mater to a 6-speed automatic that delivers power smoothly and without fear hunting.

A turbo might help in certain situations but overall this is plenty engine for a car this size.

Fuel economy hovered around 43 mpg during all-highway driving and while going above the speed limit. The EPA rates the Yaris iA at 32/40/35 (city/highway/combined).

Road and wind noise are minimal, but engine noise can make its way into the cabin during heavy acceleration or when going up hills.

The headlights are standard fare halogens. They perform well overall.

Interior Fit and Finish
Toyota and Mazda designers did a great job of keeping the interior simple, ergonomic and space-efficient. Materials quality is very good for the class and build quality looks to be excellent.

The seats are supportive but the elbow rests could use more cushioning.

Cargo room is plentiful with a wide trunk opening and fold-down seats.

Visibility is excellent all around thanks to thin pillars and large windows. The standard backup camera makes any parking situation a cinch.

Gauges and Controls
Clean, well-lit gauges and controls provide all information at a quick glance.

Knobs and buttons feel high quality.

Everything is well-organized and grouped together in a logical way. Remote keyless entry with push button start is an odd combination, but anything is better than having to put a key in a cylinder at night ever again.

Mazda’s infotainment system is here instead of the Entune system were used to. It works OK, but overall it’s very cumbersome and counterintuitive. The knob controller setup works in most cars but the positioning in the iA’s smaller cabin means our arm has to be positioned backwards into an unnatural position in order for our hand to be over the controller.

USB, HD radio and Bluetooth streaming inputs provide endless entertainment and are easy to set up.

Here’s where Yaris iA excels. It’s the only vehicle in its class to feature a pre-collision system to automatically brake and prevent an accident or reduce vehicle speed to minimize damage. It works best at speeds below 19 mph.

Crash Test Results
The iA did very well in IIHS testing, earning a Top Safety Pick award, and earned all 5 stars in the NHTSA crash testing program.

Summary Scorecard (1-10)
Ride and Handling 8
Braking 8
Powertrain and Fuel Economy 9
Noise 8
Headlights 8
Interior Fit and Finish 8
Seating 8
Visibility 8
Gauges and Controls 10
Infotainment 7
Crash-Avoidance 9
Total Score 83
Make: Toyota
Model: Yaris iA
Trim Level: Standard
Engine: 1.5L I4
Transmission: 6-Speed Automatic
Options: None
Base Price: $17,050
As-Tested Price: $17,935

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