Yaris iA: A Good Thing in a Small Package

Yaris iA

Vehicle layout: 1.5-liter inline 4 (106 hp), 6-speed automatic, FWD

MSRP base price: $17,915 (as tested)

MPG, city/hwy/combined: 32/40/35

The Yaris iA used to be a Scion iA, but the Scion brand is toast. To confuse things further, the iA is really made by Mazda—it’s a Mazda2 (which isn’t sold in the U.S.) with different badging and sheet metal.

The iA’s Mazda DNA is a good thing for a couple of reasons, the first of which is the iA’s interior. Its clean, classy lines and (relatively) upscale materials bump it to the top of the subcompact class (squint and you might think you’re in a mini Mazda3). The iA’s exterior, unfortunately, is nondescript.

The second benefit is the iA’s superb handling. Steering is quick and precise, with decent feedback. The iA’s ride, though on the firm side, is relatively comfortable for short stretches, and body lean through corners is subdued. 

The iA also gets terrific fuel economy (up to 35 mpg combined), has a tight turning circle, is easy to park, and has a standard rearview camera and emergency low-speed automatic braking system. The engine and transmission are smooth, but road noise is intrusive above 45 mph. The trunk is decently sized for a small car, but adults won’t be happy in the backseat for more than a dozen miles or so.

The Yaris iA’s biggest drawback, unfortunately, can’t be ameliorated: It’s a subcompact car, which means that although it’s a great ride in town, it’s not much fun for long drives. It lacks the gravitas and solid feel of even a compact car. But if that’s not a problem, the Yaris iA is definitely worth a look.

Crash-test ratings: NHTSA: 5 stars overall. IIHS: Top Safety Pick

Spare tire: Temporary spare

Final assembly: Mexico

Basic warranty: 3 years/36,000 miles

Photographs courtesy of Toyota Motor Corp.

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