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Toyota Yaris

Subcompact no longer means substandard.

The Yaris, redesigned last year, is a worthy contender in a segment that’s become much tougher. Its new sheetmetal has evolved from a too-cute jellybean into a more-upscale hatchback. (Toyota dropped the sedan with the 2012 makeover.) The interior leaves behind awkward attempts at cheap chic — no one ever liked that center speedometer — and instead adopts a traditional look and more standard features, including power windows and iPod connectivity. The only powertrain is the same 106-hp, 1.5-liter four-cylinder, but the SE complements it with a beefier suspension, quicker-ratio steering, and four-wheel disc brakes (rear drums are standard). Despite these changes, the Yaris remains behind the subcompact curve in some areas. It retains a four-speed automatic transmission at a time when many of its competitors offer six-speeds, and it fails to achieve the now almost obligatory 40 mpg on the highway. The Yaris suffers from disconnected, overboosted electric power steering. It’s also no bargain. The two-door Yaris starts at about the same price as choices like the Ford Fiesta that have a more premium feel and are more efficient. At the same time, it’s not as versatile and commodious as its nearest Japanese competitor, the Honda Fit.

COMPETITORS

Chevrolet Sonic

Ford Fiesta

Honda Fit

Mazda 2

new for 2013

The Yaris is pretty much unchanged after a full 2012 redesign.

SAFETY EQUIPMENT

Front, side, side curtain, and driver’s knee air bags; ABS; traction and stability control; and a tire-pressure monitoring system are standard.

High Mileage

MPG

CITY 30

HWY 35–38

PRO

Much improved last year

Nicely equipped interior

Nine standard air bags

CON

Fuel economy trails segment leaders’

Relatively anemic engine

Base Price Range: $15,130–$17,190

SPECIFICATIONS

DRIVE: Front-wheel

TRIM LEVELS: L, LE, SE

BODY STYLE: Hatchback, 5-passenger

ENGINE: 1.5L I-4, 106 hp, 103 lb-ft

TRANSMISSIONS: 5-speed manual, 4-speed automatic

PASSENGER VOLUME: 84.4–85.1 cu ft

CARGO SPACE: 15.3–15.6 cu ft

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