The car that is the 2017 Toyota Yaris iA has lived something of a nomadic life in its two brief years on the market. Last year, this subcompact sedan debuted as the Scion iA, but it was in fact a rebadged Mazda 2 sedan, a model that's not sold on our shores. This year, Toyota has canceled its Scion sub-brand and brought the iA into the fold, rechristening it "Yaris iA." You'll have to work to avoid confusing it with the regular Yaris, which also competes in the subcompact segment, albeit in hatchback form.
Actually, a little confusion seems inevitable in this case. But don't let that distract you from the Yaris iA's fundamental goodness, of which there is plenty. It starts with the Mazda-tuned chassis, which gives the iA as nimble and responsive handling as anything in the class. Interior design and quality are also laudable for the price, and fuel economy is more than adequate at 35 mpg combined with the six-speed automatic transmission. Furthermore, the 2017 Yaris iA continues the Scion tradition of offering a single well-equipped model, so there's no fussing about with various trim levels; every Yaris iA comes with the same generous features at a reasonable price.
There's no question that the 2017 Yaris iA stands tall among subcompact sedans. The Ford Fiesta sedan is similarly rewarding to drive and packs plenty of features as well as a more efficient three-cylinder engine option, though it's not quite as nice inside as the Toyota. The Hyundai Accent is a strong all-around package, but its handling and fuel economy don't measure up. If you to haul larger items, we'd steer you toward a small hatchback instead, such as the outstanding Honda Fit. Overall, we like how the Yaris iA is more than the sum of its parts and truly gets you a lot of car for your money.
Standard safety features on the 2017 Yaris iA include antilock brakes (with rear drums), stability control, front-seat side airbags and full-length side curtain airbags, as well as traction and stability control. A low-speed forward collision warning system with automatic braking is also included, which is rare in the class, even as an option.
trim levels & features
The 2017 Toyota Yaris iA is a compact sedan that is available in a single well-equipped trim level. Standard features include 16-inch alloy wheels, keyless ignition and entry, cruise control, a low-speed forward collision warning system with automatic braking, full power accessories, a tilt-and-telescoping steering wheel, 60/40-split folding rear seats and air-conditioning.
On the technology front, you get a rearview camera, a 7-inch touchscreen with a console-mounted rotary controller, Bluetooth phone and audio connectivity, and a six-speaker audio system with streaming radio, voice recognition and a USB interface. A navigation system is one of the few available options.
The 2017 Toyota Yaris iA employs a 1.5-liter four-cylinder engine that should produce the same 106 horsepower and 103 pound-feet of torque as it did in last year's Scion iA. Power is sent to the front wheels through a standard six-speed manual transmission, with a six-speed automatic available at extra cost.
According to the EPA, the automatic-equipped Yaris iA should return 35 mpg combined (32 city/40 highway), which is very good, though most other subcompacts get similar numbers. The manual is right behind at 34 mpg combined.
With modest power coming from the small four-cylinder engine, the 2017 Yaris iA will require a lot of time and a heavy foot on the gas pedal to get up to highway speeds. A tap of the Sport button on models with the automatic transmission sharpens throttle response and keeps the revs higher, but you'll still need to floor it to merge into traffic or pass slower vehicles.
Thanks to its Mazda-based underpinnings, the Yaris iA feels relatively sharp and athletic on winding roads, with immediate yet predictable reactions to steering inputs. It should also deliver a smooth and compliant ride without intrusive wind or road noise.
You can't really expect much interior refinement from a subcompact sedan, but the 2017 Yaris iA bucks the trend and earns high marks for both comfort and thoughtful design. Materials used throughout the cabin are similar to those found in pricier cars, and the touchscreen infotainment system with its redundant dial controller is also evocative of more expensive models. That 7-inch touchscreen is perfectly placed, by the way, and the sharp graphics can be read at a quick glance.
The front seats have only the basic adjustments, but average and shorter passengers will likely find these seats satisfactory for extended periods. Taller drivers might have to compromise, however, as the short extension of the telescoping steering wheel could force them closer to the dash than they'd like. The absence of a center armrest is a notable drawback for drivers of all heights, though you can order one as a dealer-installed option.
Rear accommodations are typical for the class, meaning the Yaris iA's rear seat is better suited to small passengers due to a lack of head- and legroom. The tall door panels and small windows tend to make the space feel even more confined than it is. Happily, trunk capacity is above average for the class, with 13.5 cubic feet of capacity. The low liftover height and remote seatback release further improve usability.
edmunds expert review process
This review was written by a member of Edmunds' editorial team of expert car reviewers. Our team drives every car you can buy. We put the vehicles through rigorous testing, evaluating how they drive and comparing them in detail to their competitors.
We're also regular people like you, so we pay attention to all the different ways people use their cars every day. We want to know if there's enough room for our families and our weekend gear and whether or not our favorite drink fits in the cupholder. Our editors want to help you make the best decision on a car that fits your life.