Although some competing cars offer a broader range of optional tech features, the 2016 Toyota Yaris should suit the needs of many buyers in the subcompact segment. Toyota’s smallest hatchback provides a composed driving experience, as well as a spacious cabin and a strong list of standard equipment.
The Toyota Yaris is a subcompact car that’s available in two- and four-door body styles. A four-cylinder engine and a five-speed manual transmission are standard, while a four-speed automatic is optional. The Yaris sees no notable changes for the 2016 model year. Three trims are offered: L, LE and SE.
With its small stature and wedgelike shape, the 2016 Yaris offers an attractive, but not particularly adventurous, design that’s suitable for a subcompact hatchback. Its face is dominated by a large black grille, while subtle character lines provide some visual interest to the Yaris’ profile. The wheels are pushed far out toward each corner, resulting in short front and rear overhangs that help foster a purposeful stance.
The base Yaris L comes with 15-inch steel wheels, daytime running lights and a rear windshield wiper. Stepping up to the Yaris LE adds 15-inch alloy wheels and power-adjustable sideview mirrors, while the SE trim gains projector-beam headlights, fog lights, a rear spoiler and 16-inch alloy wheels.
Subcompact cars aren’t typically known for their opulent interiors, and the 2016 Toyota Yaris doesn’t buck the trend here. Its interior is functional, with a simple dash layout that includes three large knobs for climate control and a touch-screen audio system that resides directly above it.
Despite its small size, the five-seat Yaris offers plenty of head- and legroom in the front seats. Still, the cabin is a bit narrow, and the lack of a telescoping steering column may make it difficult for some drivers to find an ideal position behind the wheel. Cargo space stands at 15.3 cubic feet in the two-door model, while the four-door Yaris has 15.6 cubic feet of space. In both models, a split-folding rear-seat provides a little extra cargo carrying capability, though competitors like the 2016 Honda Fit offer more flexibility and better small-item storage.
The Yaris also lacks the ability to add comfort-enhancing features such as heated seats or dual-zone climate control, though the base model comes with the features we expect in the segment, including air conditioning and full power accessories. Jumping up to the LE grade adds cruise control, steering wheel-mounted audio controls and keyless entry, while the Yaris SE benefits from unique cloth upholstery and a leather-wrapped steering wheel and shift knob.
The 2016 Yaris comes with a 1.5-liter four-cylinder engine that produces 106 horsepower and 103 pound-feet of torque. Front-wheel drive and a five-speed manual transmission are standard, while a four-speed automatic transmission is optional. The EPA reports that the Yaris gets 30/36 mpg city/highway with the five-speed manual, or 30/35 mpg with the automatic.
The Yaris is surprisingly peppy, despite transmission choices that are a bit dated. While 106 horsepower may not seem like much on paper, our test Yaris LE was responsive off the line and had an acceptable amount of highway passing power.
The ride was also comfortable, and the Yaris’ small size pays dividends with controlled handling and good maneuverability. Our only complaint was engine noise, which can be a little excessive when the four-cylinder engine is called upon for more power.
The Yaris comes standard with USB and Bluetooth connectivity, a six-speaker audio system and an Entune audio system with a 6.1-inch touch screen. No factory-installed options are available, and some of the latest tech features, such as push-button start and Apple CarPlay/Android Auto smartphone integration are missing from the options list. Still, the touch-screen audio system is easy to use, with large on-screen icons and quick response times.
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) gave the four-door version of the 2016 Yaris four out of five stars for its overall performance in crash tests.
The four-door Yaris also performed well in most tests conducted by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS), with top scores of Good in all but the small overlap crash test, where it received a second-lowest Marginal rating.
The Yaris comes standard with nine air bags, antilock brakes and stability control. Driver assistance features such as a rearview camera, blind-spot monitoring and forward collision warning are not offered.
The 2016 Toyota Yaris starts at $14,895 plus an $865 destination charge. That price gets you a two-door model with a manual transmission. LE models start at $16,555 and the Yaris SE starts at $16,870.
Price is always a factor in the subcompact segment, and the Yaris offers a decent list of standard features at a price that’s comparable to that of competitors like the Ford Fiesta and Hyundai Accent. Our four-door Yaris LE with the automatic transmission carried a suggested price of $17,795 after destination, and came with features that we’d want, including cruise control, power-adjustable side mirrors and keyless entry.
While it lacks some of the high-tech options you’ll find on competing subcompact cars, the 2016 Yaris delivers a pleasant driving experience, straightforward pricing and a cabin that’s impressively roomy given its small size. Still, if you’re looking for a subcompact car with a high level of feature content, we’d encourage you to cross-shop the Yaris with competitors like the Ford Fiesta and Honda Fit.