Full 2014 Toyota Yaris Review
What's New for 2014
The 2014 Toyota Yaris carries over from last year unchanged.
Versatility and affordability are basic requirements for a modern subcompact car. And from that standpoint, the 2014 Toyota Yaris hatchback meets expectations. But consumers shopping for entry-level small cars like the Yaris should look beyond the bottom line, as many of the models in this class now provide surprisingly comfortable seating, useful cargo space and a decent array of tech features, in addition to high fuel efficiency.
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. The 106-horsepower, 1.5-liter four-cylinder engine is nothing special, as it provides only average acceleration and fuel economy for this class. Further, an outdated four-speed automatic is the only transmission available on certain trim levels, and compared with the five- and six-speed automatics available on competitors, there's a noticeable step down in performance, as the Yaris feels sluggish during passing maneuvers.
Inside, the case for buying a Toyota Yaris is much stronger. Adults will be able to get comfortable in both the front and rear seats, as both the two-door and four-door hatchbacks offer solid headroom and legroom for this class. In addition, desirable features like Bluetooth phone and audio connectivity and USB/iPod integration are standard, even on the base L model.
Unquestionably, though, buyers shopping for affordable small cars now have plenty of options. The Hyundai Accent and Kia Rio are desirable all-around picks, as they offer spacious interiors (with a choice of sedan and hatchback body styles), a strong 138-hp base engine and generous standard equipment lists. The 2014 Ford Fiesta has the nicest interior furnishings in the class, and it's arguably the most enjoyable subcompact car to drive. Frugal buyers should consider the Nissan Versa sedan, as it is the least expensive car for sale in America, while cars like the Chevrolet Sonic and the Honda Fit are worth a look if cargo capacity is high on your priority list.
Given its above average passenger room and lengthy equipment list, the 2014 Toyota Yaris is certainly worth consideration, especially when you factor in Toyota's historically strong reliability. But with so many impressive small sedans and hatchbacks competing for your attention in this segment, Toyota's entry gets lost in the crowd.
Body Styles, Trim Levels, and Options
The 2014 Toyota Yaris is a subcompact economy car available as either a two- or four-door hatchback. The L and LE trims are offered in both these configurations, while the sporty SE trim is offered only as a four-door.
Standard features on the L include 15-inch steel wheels, a rear windshield wiper, power door locks, air-conditioning, four-way-adjustable front seats, a tilt steering wheel, a trip computer, a fold-down rear bench seat, Bluetooth phone and audio connectivity, and a six-speaker sound system with a CD player, HD radio, an auxiliary audio jack and a USB/iPod interface.
With the LE, you also get power windows, remote keyless entry, cruise control, a six-way-adjustable driver seat, auxiliary steering-wheel-mounted audio controls, upgraded interior trim and a 60/40-split fold-down rear seat. Those who opt for the SE trim get a sport-tuned suspension, 16-inch alloy wheels, unique front and rear bumper fascia, sportier tires, four-wheel disc brakes, a unique grille, foglamps, a leather-trimmed steering wheel and shifter and upgraded cloth upholstery.
Powertrains and Performance
The front-wheel-drive 2014 Toyota Yaris is powered by a 1.5-liter inline four-cylinder engine rated at 106 hp and 103 pound-feet of torque. Two transmissions are available: a five-speed manual and a four-speed automatic. The manual is standard on the two-door L and the four-door SE, while the four-speed automatic is optional on these models. The four-speed automatic is the only transmission you can get on the four-door L hatchback and all LE models.
In Edmunds testing, a four-door Yaris with the five-speed manual went from zero to 60 mph in 9.3 seconds, while an automatic-equipped four-door took 10.8 seconds. Both times are average for the class.
EPA fuel economy estimates for the manual-equipped Yaris are 33 mpg combined (30 city/37 highway). With the automatic, these numbers dip to 32 combined (30 city/36 highway). These numbers are solid, but not class-leading.
Standard safety features include antilock brakes (rear drums for all models except the SE, which gets four-wheel discs), traction and stability control, active front head restraints, front seat side airbags, front and rear side curtain airbags, front seat cushion airbags and a driver knee airbag. In Edmunds brake testing, the Yaris stopped from 60 mph in 121 feet, an average distance for this segment.
In government crash testing, the Yaris four-door hatchback received four out of five stars for overall crash protection, with four stars for frontal-impact protection and five stars for side-impact protection. The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety gave the Yaris hatchback its highest possible rating of "Good" in its moderate-overlap frontal-offset, side-impact, roof strength and head restraint tests. In that agency's small-overlap frontal offset test, the Yaris scored a second-lowest (out of four) "Marginal" rating.
Interior Design and Special Features
The Yaris' interior couldn't be simpler or easier to use. There are just a couple of gauges to read, and the large speedometer is mounted directly in front of the driver. Those worried about a subcompact car affording a low view of the road will find the high-mounted front seats help provide good sight lines, though the lack of a telescoping steering wheel can be a problem for short and tall drivers alike. In back, there's a refreshing amount of rear-seat legroom, and even those of above-average height will find acceptable headroom.
Although the plastics and upholstery in the 2014 Toyota Yaris aren't exceptional, the materials are reasonably well-finished and assembled. Although you can't get a navigation system in the 2014 Toyota Yaris, this car comes standard with all the basic tech features you're likely to want, including Bluetooth with streaming audio capability and a USB input -- amenities that you'll often have to pay extra for in this price range.
The four-door Yaris has 15.6 cubic feet of cargo space (15.3 in the two-door) behind its rear seat -- about the same as the Fiesta. But you'll find a good bit more in Honda's Fit (20.6 cubic feet) or the Nissan Versa Note (21.4 cubic feet). Still, the split-folding rear seat in LE and SE models helps make the most of the available space.
Given the expectations most people have for this class of car, the 106 hp provided by the 2014 Toyota Yaris will probably be sufficient. There's enough gumption to deal with the cut-and-thrust of suburban traffic flow and the Yaris has no problem holding common freeway speeds, though getting up to those speeds can take some patience. The four-speed automatic is OK, but the six-speed automatics or continuously variable transmissions (CVTs) in newer competitors make better use of the power available from their small-displacement engines. If you don't mind dealing with a manual transmission, it's the better bet on the Yaris from the standpoint of both acceleration and fuel economy.
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.