Staff Writer - CheersandGears.com
December 4, 2013
When Toyota introduced the refreshed Yaris subcompact last year, they also introduced a new tagline which is somewhat questionable. The tagline was "Yaris, it's a car!" So we know the Yaris is a car and not anything else, but is it one that you should go out and spend your money on? I spent a week with the 2013 Yaris L three-door to find out.
Let's start with the obvious: This particular Yaris is a three-door model, which happens to be the only three-door subcompact on sale in the U.S. As for the design, Toyota cleaned up the Yaris by smoothing out some of the lines and removing some questionable details such as a single black push button/handle found on the previous model's tailgate. The front also sees some minor changes with a new front clip and headlights.
Inside, the Yaris has just the bare essentials. This is due to this particular model being the base L. There is a wide dash that is mostly bare aside from the radio and climate controls sitting in the middle. Materials are pretty poor with hard plastic along the dash and door panels that look very cheap. I know that the Yaris L is a cheap car, but other vehicles with similar starting price use better materials. Two examples of this are the Kia Rio and Chevrolet Sonic.
As for features, it's an odd game of 'it has this, but not that'. You get a radio that is very much familiar to the Scion FR-S and comes with CD, USB and Aux inputs and Bluetooth. Also standard is air conditioning. What isn't standard is a height adjustment for the front seats and remote mirrors. For those, you have to step up to the LE which costs only costs $935 more when compared to the price of the L model when equipped with the automatic.
For more on the engine and what it's like to drive, see the next page.
Powering the Yaris is a 1.5L DOHC four-cylinder engine with 106 horsepower and 103 pound-feet of torque. A five-speed manual comes standard on the L 3-Door, but our tester was equipped with the optional four-speed automatic transmission. With all of this 'performance', the Yaris L shows significant signs of struggle. You have to have your foot close or almost to the floor to attempt passing, merging, and even trying to keep up with traffic sometimes. The four-speed automatic does its best to try and keep the vehicle moving, but you can tell it's working its heart out. This is a vehicle that deserves an extra 20 to 30 horsepower and torque, and two more gear ratios. Fuel economy wise, the EPA rates the Yaris L 3-Door at 30 City/35 Highway/32 Combined. My average for the week was 32.1 MPG. That is good, but competitors with a bit more oomph can match and exceed that.
Toyota completely missed the mark with the 2013 Yaris. It seems that the team working on it were trying to build a vehicle for the 2000s when everybody else was trying to build one for this decade. Just looking at the Yaris and comparing it to other vehicles such as the RAV4 and Avalon, I know Toyota can do much better.
That's not even the biggest problem for the Yaris L; it's the poor value for the money. As I eluded to earlier, you can step up to the LE 3-Door for only $935 more which nets you height adjustment, remote mirrors, cruise control, and loads of other features. Why would you buy the Yaris L over the LE? The only reason I see is that you have $935 in your pocket, but you also have a bad value. You could also check out the Nissan Versa Note or Kia Rio LX for around the same money as the Yaris L and get much more equipment and a better value for money argument.
The Toyota Yaris L is indeed a car... and that's about all anyone, even Toyota, can think of to say about it.
Click Pictures to Enlarge
Disclaimer: Toyota Provided the Yaris, Insurance, and One Tank of Gas
Model: Yaris 3-Door
Engine: 1.5L 16-valve DOHC with VVT-i four-cylinder
Driveline: Front-Wheel Drive, Four-Speed Automatic
Horsepower @ RPM: 106 @ 6,000
Torque @ RPM: 103 @ 4,200
Fuel Economy: City/Highway/Combined - 30/36/32
Curb Weight: 2,315 lbs
Location of Manufacture: Kanegasaki, Japan
Base Price: $15,095
As Tested Price: $16,477 (Includes $795.00 Destination Charge)
Rear Spoiler - $329.00
Carpeted Floor Mats/Cargo Mats - $180.00
Cargo Net - $49.00
First Aid Kit - $29.00