Better than a Mazda2? Is it still an Echo? The Yaris’ new design incorporates sharper angles into its styling, giving the Yaris a more aggressive look compared to the previous generation, which honestly looked like it was designed by 12-year old.
With gas prices ever increasing, small cars are becoming more and more popular. The subcompact market has attracted many buyers from various age groups and lifestyles. The 2013 Toyota Yaris LE is certainly not a new name and it has recently been redesigned to stay a strong contender in such a competitive segment. Toyota made improvements on every aspect of the car, so I decided to find out how the loaded-up LE model stacks up against the likes of other offerings from Honda, Ford, Hyundai, Kia, Fiat, Mazda, and GM.
The Yaris’ new design incorporates sharper angles into its styling, giving the Yaris a more aggressive look compared to the previous generation, which honestly looked like it was designed by 12-year old. In short, maybe alpha males can finally afford to be seen in one. The Yaris now comes in hatchback form only and it’s also a couple inches longer than its predecessor. I know it doesn’t look particularly good in Lagoon Blue Mica, like my tester, but all in all it’s a pretty handsome little car.
Driving the 2013 Yaris is very underwhelming. I do realize that people interested in subcompacts aren’t looking for a race car, but the Yaris is nothing short of mediocre compared to its competitors in this segment (namely the Mazda2 and Honda Fit). The 1.5L four banger produces a modest 106-horsepower and 103 lb-ft or torque. It’s mated to a 4-speed automatic transmission, the only 4-speed auto still available in the segment. After driving the Yaris, it’s pretty apparent why other manufacturers abandoned it. For highway driving, such as accelerating and passing, the Yaris felt sluggish. Downshifts and upshifts were sort of jarring and the engine noise was far from unappealing. The Yaris, however, was a good drive in the city. There is no hunting of gears and the powertrain provided more-than-adequate acceleration. I haven’t had the opportunity to drive the Yaris in manual trim yet, but I did drive a 5-speed Mazda2 back-to- back with it. In terms of driving fun and feel, the manual Mazda2 was by far the better car compared to the automatic Yaris. I can only imagine the Yaris with a 5-speed manual will be more fun and feel much less under-powered compared to the 4-speed auto. Most buyers will be opting for the automatic version so be prepared to see many left-lane-hogging Yaris’ on your local highways soon.
Improvements were made on its handling and ride, and although my little blue friend was not sporty by any means, it managed to get itself around just fine. The Yaris feels relatively nimble and corners with very little body roll. The electric steering provides a bit more feel than some other cars that use a similar system but at the end of the day, I felt more confident behind the wheel of some of its competitors. It’s not at the top of its class, but it isn’t the worst either. It’s probably what you’d expect a Toyota Yaris to feel like. I achieved approximately 6.5L/100km with mixed city and highway driving, similar to Toyota’s estimates of 6.8L/100km city and 5.5L/100km highway. Although those figures look pretty economical, some of its competitors claim to do better.
The interior of my Yaris LE is basic as usual but to give credit where it’s due, it’s far superior to its predecessor. In typical Toyota fashion, everything about the console layout is plain and conservative looking. I think that Toyota could have done a better job designing the interior of this car. I honestly think that the Mazda2, Hyundai Accent, Ford Fiesta, Honda Fit, Fiat 500… basically every car within the subcompact class boasts a more streamlined and advanced interior. Air conditioning and CD/AUX/USB input comes as standard on all trim levels. No audio controls are present on the 3-spoke steering wheel though, like the Mazda2 GS had. The seats were comfortable enough in most scenarios and legroom up front is ample. However if a tall person is sitting up front, don’t expect to fit another 6-footer behind him/her, though that’s pretty much right in line with other subcompacts. Build quality seems solid in typical Toyota fashion as the car is relatively quiet, even at highway speeds, and there are no rattles. In the safety department, the Yaris is equipped with an abundant amount of air bags, stability control, and ABS.
Although the 2013 Toyota Yaris offers a decent package with an as-tested price of $18,550, it unfortunately pales in comparison to its competitors. Its good features are overshadowed by its prehistoric 4-speed automatic transmission, inherently mediocre highway performance and lack of a fun-to-drive factor. Like all Toyotas, it’s a safe choice and it will probably last you a long time, but it’s not particular the best at anything in its segment. There are simply better looking, better equipped, better performing, and more fun options available. I don’t really know if they will last as long as the Yaris will, though…
2013 Toyota Yaris LE Gallery