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#31

in Affordable Small Cars

MSRP: $14,430 - $17,340
Invoice: $13,853 - $16,645
MPG: 30 City / 36 Hwy
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Toyota Yaris Performance

Test drivers agree that while the 2014 Toyota Yaris has adequate power around town, it is slow to accelerate and can feel strained at higher speeds. However, the Yaris gets good fuel economy for its class. Overall, the ride is smooth and handling is acceptable, reviewers note, adding that steering and braking are predictable.

  • "The raucous engine is a bit of a killjoy, though, and we'd hesitate to call the ride supple. In other words, the Yaris is something of a mixed bag from behind the wheel." -- AutoTrader
  • "You'll find the steering quite light in this small Toyota, and it makes the car effortless to drive around town and guide into tight parking spaces. The Yaris is also steady around turns and has a reasonably smooth ride. The SE model's quicker steering calibration and upgraded brakes and suspension add a mildly sporty bent to the 2014 Yaris' economy-oriented mission." -- Edmunds
  • "This is enough power to tool around town, but it might feel marginal when passing on a 2-way highway." -- Kelley Blue Book (2013)
  • "The holdover 1.5-liter engine is entirely adequate to move this car. But we can’t call it anything more than adequate." -- Popular Mechanics (2012)

Acceleration and Power

All 2014 Yaris models are equipped with a 1.5-liter, four-cylinder engine that generates 106 horsepower. A five-speed manual transmission is standard on the base trim and highest trim and a four-speed automatic is standard on all other trims. The base Yaris gets an EPA-estimated 30/37 mpg city/highway, which is good for the class.

The base Yaris has sufficient power on city streets and at moderate speeds, test drivers say, but it offers tepid acceleration on the highway. While they write that the five-speed manual transmission is responsive, most reviewers are disappointed with the four-speed automatic that’s standard on the LE trims and the four-dour L trim. They say that rival cars have five- and six-speed transmissions, which improve acceleration and fuel economy.

  • "Let's get the bad news out of the way first: The Yaris continues to use a 4-speed automatic transmission, which hinders both acceleration and highway fuel economy. Most rivals have five or six speeds by now." -- AutoTrader
  • "Toyota's Yaris has enough gumption to deal with the cut-and-thrust of suburban traffic flow and has no problem holding common freeway speeds, though getting up to those speeds can take some patience." -- Edmunds (2013)
  • "It feels smooth and acceptably strong under moderate acceleration around town, but can seem strained if more is asked of it." -- Kelley Blue Book (2013)
  • "The 1.5-liter engine largely felt exactly as it did in the previous Yaris - acceptable, but far from zippy." -- MSN (2012)
  • "With the five-speed manual transmission, the Yaris is a competent performer. It felt light and responsive, moving away from lights well enough and passing easily for a modestly powered car." -- Cars.com (2012)

Handling and Braking

Although it may not offer a lot of thrills behind the wheel, the Yaris handles respectably, reviewers say, pointing to responsive steering and a generally smooth ride. The car’s small size also makes it easy to maneuver and park in small spaces, auto writers say.

  • "There's no doubt that Toyota has upped the fun factor with the current Yaris. The steering is noticeably tighter and more responsive than before, and the car zips around with an eagerness that we don't remember from the previous car." -- AutoTrader
  • "Although there's nothing remarkable about the Yaris' driving experience, the car's light steering effort and capable suspension make it easy and enjoyable to drive around town." -- Edmunds
  • "Also, its small footprint makes it very easy to park." -- Consumer Guide (2013)
  • "Steering is light and suspension action nicely compliant." -- Kelley Blue Book (2013)
Review Last Updated: 5/19/14

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