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2017 Toyota Yaris Overview
Toyota might not the first brand you think of when it comes to subcompact vehicles. But the automaker has been a player in this sandbox for years, offering the Echo and its replacement, the Yaris. So why do Toyota's subcompacts linger in the shadows? The answer ultimately comes down to its models not having any one one item that sets them apart from competitors. Toyota is changing that for the 2017 Yaris.
The big upgrade for 2017 is that all Yaris trims will now get Toyota Safety Sense P (TSS-P) standard. This suite of active safety technologies includes a pre-collision system with pedestrian detection, automatic high beams, lane-departure warning, and radar cruise control. No other competitor in the class can come close matching this level of active safety features. Other safety equipment for the Yaris includes 9 airbags, antilock brakes, traction and stability control, and active front head restraints. In crash tests, the Yaris earned a 4-star overall rating from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety gave the model its highest rating of Good; however, in the IIHS' recently introduced small-overlap frontal-offset test, the Yaris was rated Marginal, the second-lowest rating.
The Yaris’ exterior doesn’t see any changes for 2017 and that isn’t a bad thing. It's the only model in its class to offer the option of either a 3-door or 5-door hatchback. The front end looks like it might eat a vehicle for lunch, thanks to a massive lower grille and a slim chrome bar that runs between the headlights. Depending on the Yaris trim, wheels can range from 15-inch steel with covers to 16-inch alloy.
Pop open the Yaris’ hood and you’ll find a 1.5-liter 4-cylinder engine producing 106 hp and 103 lb-ft of torque. This can be paired with a 5-speed manual or an antiquated 4-speed automatic. The Yaris is a slow vehicle, with a 0-60 mph time of over 10 seconds. In terms of fuel economy, the Yaris is right in the middle: the 5-speed manual is rated at 30 mpg city/37 highway/33 combined and the automatic returns 30/36/32.
The Yaris’ interior remains unchanged for 2017. The design is simple and very easy to use, and controls are within easy reach of both driver and passenger. For comfort, the Yaris is a mixed bag. The steering wheel only offers a tilt adjustment, which means some drivers will need to sacrifice comfort in order to reach it. The back seat is able to fit an average-size adult thanks to a large amount of legroom and a decent amount of headroom for the class. Cargo space is small for the class, with the 3-door offering 15.3 cubic feet behind the rear seats. The 5-door isn't much better, with 15.6 cubic feet of space. The rear seats can fold 60/40, greatly expanding the Yaris' cargo space--though Toyota doesn't list by how much.
Like previous years, Toyota offers the Yaris in three trims: L, LE, and SE. The Yaris L features air conditioning, power windows and locks, a trip computer, Bluetooth, a 6.1-inch touchscreen with Toyota’s Entune infotainment system, a CD player, HD Radio, and auxiliary and USB inputs. LE trims add keyless entry, power adjustments for the side mirrors, cruise control, audio controls on the steering wheel, and chrome door handles for the interior. Opt for the SE and you’ll get projector-beam headlights, LED running lights, a rear spoiler, 4-wheel disc brakes, and better cloth upholstery.
Pricing for the 2017 Toyota Yaris starts at $15,200 for the L 3-door hatch with the manual transmission and climbs all the way to $18,000 for the SE 5-door with an automatic. Toyota also throws in a no-cost maintenance plan for 2 years or 25,000 miles and 24-hour roadside assistance for 2 years and unlimited miles on all Yaris trims. No other vehicle in the class offers something like this.
The Toyota Yaris has been overshadowed by competitors with traits that help them stand out in a crowded field. So 2017 could be the year the Yaris steps out with two items that competitors don’t have: a suite of active safety features and a no-cost maintenance plan. As a model that already offers decent space for passengers in the back and a fair amount of standard equipment, the 2017 Yaris has now become an interesting option in the subcompact class.
Ask William Maley how he started as an automotive writer and he would say he just fell into it. Based in Michigan, William has driven vehicles of all sizes and shapes. His work has appeared on Autobytel, CARFAX, Cheers & Gears, and U.S. News Best Cars.
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