• 2018 Toyota Yaris: Sportier Styling, Same Powertrain [Review]


    2018 Toyota Yaris
    [Photo: Toyota]
    The new Yaris hatchback, which shouldn’t be confused with the larger Mazda-based Yaris iA, comes with as a three or five-door model. A top car mechanic and restorer has told me most people will buy any car as long as it looks good. Maybe so. A sportier appearance promises to help sell the 2018 subcompact Toyota Yaris, and its frugal nature may also help move it from dealer lots.

    What’s New

    The 2018 Toyota Yaris looks sportier with a bold front fascia that features a new grille and updated headlight design. The rear has wider horizontal tail lights and a revised lower bumper to give the car a wider-looking “hot hatch” look. The 155.5-inch-long Yaris  really doesn’t look all that small, although it has only a 98.8-inch wheelbase.

    The Yaris comes in L, LE and SE trim levels. I tested the top-line sporty SE, which has a unique front piano black mesh grille and chrome trim. It also has a sport suspension, rear spoiler and 16-inch machined alloy wheels with dark accents that carry wider tires. The SE, therefore, is the most fun-to-drive Yaris version.

    Comfort and Convenience

    The base Yaris L comes with standard items such as air conditioning and tilt (but not telescopic) steering wheel with integrated audio controls. It also has an integrated backup camera display, power door locks and windows. Both the L and LE have Toyota’s Entune infotainment system that includes a 6.1-inch touch screen display, six speakers, an auxiliary input jack, USB port and Bluetooth hands-free connectivity. The SE gets what Toyota calls a “big-car-kind” of audio upgrade with Entune Audio Plus. It features a larger, 7-inch high-resolution touch screen.

    On top of the standard features, the mid-level LE adds power mirrors, cruise control and steering wheel audio controls. The SE includes LE interior upgrades and sport-fabric trimmed seats with contrast white stitching, piano black interior trim accents and the audio upgrade.

    The Yaris’ doors opened wide for easy entry and placement of child seats. The car is rated as a five-seater, but while three adults can sit comfortably, drivers with long legs will wish their seat moved back further. Tall occupants behind the driver will also want a little more knee room. At least the center of the rear seat has a soft cushion. The large, comfortable front seats offers decent side support.

    2018 Toyota Yaris
    [Photo: Toyota]


    All Yaris versions have a 1.5-liter four-cylinder engine, making 106 horsepower and 103 lb-ft of torque. It provides lively, if not out-and-out ballistic, acceleration to highway speeds. However, it delivers just average 65-75 passing times. The engine loves to rev, but it drones when you really force it work. Still, under normal conditions it’s reasonably quiet for a small four-cylinder. Fast cruising is no problem, partly because Toyota has made the Yaris’ interior quieter.

    My test car had an electronically controlled 4-speed automatic transmission with a responsive manual-shift feature. Although, if you’d like another gear, the Yaris is available with a 5-speed manual in the two door L and four-door SE. A four-speed automatic seems old-fashioned, but Toyota probably figures the car’s engine works best with a four-speed automatic. In any case, the automatic’s console-mounted shift gate is a bit notchy.

    Only regular grade fuel is needed, and estimated fuel economy is 30 miles per gallon in the city and 36 on highways with the manual and 30 and 35 with the automatic.

    My test SE’s thick steering wheel controlled the electric power steering, which was fast (2.65 turns lock-to-lock) and had a firm feel and decent road feedback. The car stayed flat in curves taken at above-average speeds. Its handling was helped by its wider tires, sport suspension, stabilizer bar, vehicle stability control and traction control. The brakes bite hard, but have a reasonably linear pedal travel.

    However, the short wheelbase and firm suspension occasionally resulted in a jerky ride. Thus, I wouldn’t call the SE a comfortable long-distance car. However, higher-profile tires and such may allow the L and LE versions to have a more comfortable ride.

    TFLcar’s Take

    The 2018 Toyota Yaris hatchback gets sportier styling to stand it out from the small hatchback crowd. Overall, it’s generally fun to drive. List prices, excluding delivery and processing charges, range from $15,635 for the base two-door L hatchback with the manual transmission to $19,060 for the SE four-door hatchback with the automatic. The SE with the manual costs $18,260, and the L with the automatic is $16,385.

    Check back to TFLcar.com for more real-world reviews! Subscribe to The Fast Lane Car and TFLnow on YouTube for the latest videos on your favorite new models.

    SPECIFICATIONS: 2018 Toyota Yaris SE

    On Sale: Now
    Base MSRP: $15,635
    Price as Tested: $19,060
    Engine: 1.5-liter, naturally aspirated inline-four cylinder
    Drivetrain (Layout): Transversely mounted front engine, front-wheel drive
    Horsepower: 106 hp @ 6,000 RPM
    Torque: 103 lb-ft @ 4,200 RPM
    Transmission: Four-speed automatic
    Suspension: Front: MacPherson strut w/ stabilizer bar

    Rear: Torsion beam

    Brakes: Front: 10.8-inch ventilated front rotors

    Rear: 10.2-inch rear drums

    Tires: Goodyear Assurance FuelMax P175/65 R15 84H all-season
    Fuel capacity: 11.1 gallons
    Fuel economy (EPA): 30 City/35 Highway/32 Combined MPG


    Wheelbase: 98.8 inches
    Length:  155.5 inches
    Width: 66.7 inches
    Height:  59.4 inches
    Turning Circle: 36.1 feet
    Curb Weight: 2,335 pounds


    Dan Jedlicka
    Dan Jedlicka
    Dan Jedlicka joined the Chicago Sun-Times in February 1968 as a business news reporter and was named auto editor later that year. He has reviewed more than 4,000 new vehicles for the Sun-Times–far more than any newspaper auto writer in the country. Jedlicka also reviewed vehicles for Microsoft Corp.’s MSN Autos Internet site from January 1996 to June 2008.For more of Dan’s thoughtful and insightful reviews please visit his website, www.danjedlicka.com.

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    4 thoughts on “2018 Toyota Yaris: Sportier Styling, Same Powertrain [Review]

    1. What is it with Toyota and Lexus with the Predator front ends that only age’s the vehicle. It is very sporty looking, however for those who ask about why a four speed look at the hp and tq numbers or the lack of it a lot of these vehicles that have a lack of hp use cvt to compensate for that, a 4 speed would do the same and is cheaper and smarter move for Toyota. I still don’t get that high price, Versa and spark are much cheaper.

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