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2015 Toyota Yaris Windy City Review By Larry Nutson


2015 Toyota Yaris (select to view enlarged photo)
2015 Toyota Yaris

2015 Toyota Yaris
A perfect big-city car

By Larry Nutson
Senior Editor and Bureau Chief
Chicago Bureau
The Auto Channel



2015 Toyota Yaris (select to view enlarged photo)

Yes, a perfect big-city car. The subcompact, front-wheel drive, 5-passenger 2015 Toyota Yaris is only 155.5 inches long and that in itself makes it very big-city friendly.

The short, relatively speaking, overall length can be attributed to the hatchback design. The 2015 Yaris is available as a 3-door or a 5-door, the large opening rear hatch being one of those doors. Now don’t say Americans don’t like hatchbacks. They really do, having realized how practical they are with all the minivans and SUVs with their big rear hatches that we have had in our family fleets.


2015 Toyota Yaris (select to view enlarged photo)

Short length alone does not make a good city-use car. The Yaris has good driving performance coming from its 106HP, 1.5-L 16-valve 4-cylinder that makes good torque. It’s mated to either a 5-speed manual or a 4-speed automatic. Note: no CVT here. The Yaris’ light weight in the 2350 lb. range makes for good acceleration, around town zipping in and out of traffic, as well as highway merging.


2015 Toyota Yaris (select to view enlarged photo)

The front seats are quite adequate for two average size adults. And, the rear offers seating for three, although it will really be a squeeze. But I’m sure your younger children will be happy in the back as you take them to school, or wherever. The rear hatch opens to a bit over 15 cuft of space. And, the rear seats fold for even more cargo capacity. All in all, enough room for hauling groceries, going to the dry cleaner, or taking your dog to doggy day care.

The Yaris is also easy to maneuver with a class-leading 31.5-ft. turning circle. U-turns in the middle of nowhere are easy as is parallel parking. The one feature I was missing on my list of city-friendly features is a rear view back-up camera. I’ve gotten used to these being on most every vehicle I drive for evaluation and they certainly help when parking.


2015 Toyota Yaris (select to view enlarged photo)

The Yaris comes in L, LE and SE grades, each a mono-spec trim that eliminates option packages. Standard features include air conditioning, sport-tuned electric power steering, 3-spoke tilt steering wheel, power door locks with illuminated entry, cargo area cover and lamp, power windows with driver’s side auto up/down, and color-keyed folding outside mirrors. The Yaris LE adds the convenience of power mirrors, cruise control, steering wheel audio controls, and a remote keyless entry system with engine immobilizer.

All models get the Yaris Entune Audio that includes a 6.1-inch touch screen, an AM/FM CD player with MP3/WMA playback capability, six speakers, HD Radio with iTunes Tagging, auxiliary audio jack, USB port with iPod connectivity and control, hands-free phone capability, voice recognition, and music streaming via Bluetooth wireless technology.


2015 Toyota Yaris (select to view enlarged photo)

For the first time in a Yaris, a navigation system is an available port or dealer-installed option. It’s priced at $899.

Speaking of prices. Yaris pricing starts at $14,845 for the 3-door L grade. The top of the line SE 5-door with automatic is $17,620. The step-up from 3-door to 5-door is $375 and for automatic it’s $800 over the manual.

Manual transmission is only offered on the L 3-door and the SE that is only offered as a 5-door.

In my week of driving the “Absolutely Red” 2015 Yaris SE 5-door equipped with the 4-sped automatic I got around 29 mpg overall…and I don’t hesitate to step in to the throttle and get moving at every traffic light, lest the taxi driver behind me beep his horn the instant the light turns green.

EPA test fuel economy ratings are about the same for the manual and automatic transmission models. Both are EPA test rated at 30 city mpg. The 5-speed is EPA test rated at 37 highway mpg and the automatic is 1 mpg less at 36mpg. Although I like driving manual transmission vehicles, I would opt for the automatic for city use.

For the new Yaris Toyota made the unibody structure more rigid. Tuning of the MacPherson strut front and torsion beam rear suspension is more sporty and yet does a nice job of soaking up the often crumbling city streets. The stiffer unibody not only improves handling but also makes for a quieter car. More sound-absorbing material was added to the 2015 Yaris to help with quietness.

Pushing the wheels out to the corners of the Yaris made for improved interior space. Lots of the hard plastic is now gone replaced by more pleasant surface textures. There is an overall feeling of quality. Seats have been improved and I found them fine for my 5ft 11inch frame on around town jaunts. But I didn’t think the driving position was wonderfully comfortable and would have a concern on a long trip.

Actually, if I was road-tripping I might take on the EV-owner mode of behavior and rent a larger car for that purposes. For that matter, there is nothing wrong with the concept of just having a subcompact vehicle for daily use in a big city and renting whatever type of vehicle you need for a family vacation or a trip to the in-laws.


2015 Toyota Yaris (select to view enlarged photo)

There’s lots more detailed information and specs on the 2015 Toyota Yaris models only a mouse click away at www.toyota.com. If you want to compare the Yaris to other subcompact sedans you can do that right here on TheAutoChannel.com.

There are surely other perfect big-city cars on the market. But, the 2015 Toyota Yaris fills the bill quite well. Whether you be young or older in years, needing a car for those weekend errands, single, a couple or a family with younger children the Yaris deserves consideration. Also, I would highly recommend the Yaris as a first car for a new, young driver. Don’t give that young driver the outdated family hand-me-down car or minivan. The Yaris is chock-full of safety features and equipment to help protect those at-risk drivers.

© 2015 Larry Nutson, the Chicago Car Guy