Will the Yaris dominate the sub-compact market?

FIRST DRIVE: 2015 Toyota Yaris

I wish I had this car in college.

By: Richard Noel

Web2Carz Contributing Writer

Published: November 5th, 2014

I must admit, I now like the Yaris. When it first hit the market I thought, "Oh, god. Not another sub-compact piece of crap."

My opinion has definitely changed after driving the hell out of a few Yarises (Yari?) in sunny Florida over the last couple of days.

The truth is, the Yaris fills an important and often overlooked niche that was once populated with Dodge Neons and Chevrolet Cavaliers - the inexpensive college-kid car. But this is no bare-bones box on wheels.

The 2015 Toyota Yaris is unequivocally sporty for a price point that seems to offer less every year. Its sportier look and more comfy interior make it a big contender in terms of overall bang for your buck

  • Exterior

    The 2015 Yaris has a super-aggressive new look that starts at the front end. The horizontal chrome grille, lower windshield angle, short overhangs, and wheels that have been pushed out to the corners, give the Yaris a decidedly European flavor along the lines of the Fiat.

    The SE model offers a swooping piano-black grille, rear spoiler, black exterior trim, and 16-inch alloy wheels. If you're going to spring for one, skip the base-model L and spend an extra $2,000 to bump up from the three-door to the five-door hatch. You'll get a couple of extra creature comforts, like projector headlamps, LED daytime running lights, and four-wheel disc brakes.

  • Interior

    Soft touch is the name of the game for the Yaris. Everything from the dash to the seats are softer now. The dashboard's new design gives the illusion of leg room - not that the Yaris is uncomfortable. The Yaris gets its own fabric with accent stitching that makes it look pricier than it is. I wasn't big on the horizontally-ribbed embossing on the seats, but that's really fairly minor when you consider everything else.

    All models of the Yaris get the Yaris Entune Audio system with 6.1 inch touch screen, AM/FM CD Player, 6-speaker audio system and a host of plugins to support whatever smartphone you have. This is a must for any college student.

  • On the Road

    I was adamant about one thing when picking out my Yaris - a manual transmission. After whipping through traffic on the I-95, I realized this Yaris, with its 5-speed, is somehow a dying breed, but despite the waning popularity of the manual transmission, it's the only way I would buy one.

    If you're like me, that means you're limited to the base-model L 3-door, which comes in at $14,845 not including processing, handling, and delivery, or the SE 5-door that retails for $16,820. That being said, the 5-speed did feel kind of cheap. Downshifting was laborious and the clutch took more getting used to than I would have liked. However, something about driving an automatic version of this car seems wrong. It's little and fairly agile. You might actually feel cool driving one with an manual transmission.

  • Conclusion

    Whatever your criteria when shopping for a car, the Yaris is a pretty safe bet. It's small, yet has enough room to drop the rear seats and haul some stuff. It has a combined 32-33 mpg (depending on the grade you opt for) and it's agile and sporty. With a redesigned ... everything, this car is a serious contender in the sub-compact class.

  • Specs & Price

    Engine: 1.5-liter inline-four

    Transmission (as tested): Five-speed manual

    Starting Price: $14,845

    Price (as tested): $16,820 (est'd)

    MPG: 30 city / 37 highway

    Horsepower: 106

    Available Features: Media options including navigation with Toyota's Entune system, 4-wheel disc brakes, 3 and 5 door model, alloy rims

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• For more information such as specs, prices, and photos of the 2015 Toyota Yaris, click here: 2015 Toyota Yaris.