Quebec City, QC – The Toyota Yaris Sedan returns for 2016 after a three-year hiatus. The biggest problem with the old model was its compact sibling, the Corolla. For just a few extra dollars, one could leave a Toyota showroom with a better equipped and slightly roomier sedan.
Much like the auto journalists on hand for the Canadian launch, you’re probably wondering why Toyota believes this time will be any different. Well, the company’s plan for the Yaris Sedan isn’t quite the same now.
You see, instead for targeting customers on a tight budget, the new four-door Yaris wants to attract sophisticated urbanites who love technology and don’t need the size of a compact car or small SUV (here we go with that speech again…). Believe it or not, it is selling at a higher price than a base Corolla CE due to more generous content.
Is it a Mazda, a Scion or a Toyota?
For now, Toyota Canada is simply adding a sedan to the Yaris lineup, meaning that the five-door hatchback remains unchanged for 2016. Other than the logo, the former has absolutely nothing in common with the latter from a design standpoint. In fact, they’re built in Mexico and France, respectively.
So, what’s this new Toyota Yaris? The easy answer is a rebadged Mazda2 Sedan. Making things more confusing, however, the Japanese automaker has decided to pass it off as a Scion iA in the U.S.
Aside from the chiseled nose and the badges in the rear and hubcaps, the 2016 Yaris closely mirrors the latest creations from Hiroshima. Just take a Mazda3, leave it a bit too long in the dryer, and voila!
Can we blame Toyota for this lack of originality? I guess we can. Sure, the front fascia is different, but the rest of the car is all Mazda. There’s no other Toyota, Scion or Lexus model like it – beyond the grille, of course. It would have been nice to see non-Mazda taillights or even a new set of wheels designed by Toyota. Regardless of how the Yaris’ identity crisis plays out, though, it still is cute enough to win over B-segment fans.
Naturally, the Mazda theme continues inside. The dashboard is the same as the newly introduced Mazda CX-3 save for the stitching and blue backlighting. Oh, and the logo in the middle of the steering wheel was changed, too. We can’t talk about that famous Toyota quality since everything in the new Yaris Sedan was put together by its domestic rival, but it must be said that material selection in Mazda products has significantly improved in recent years.
The driving position is sportier than the Yaris Hatchback’s, with the seats offering a tad more support. The steering wheel and shift knob are perfectly positioned to have some fun on the road. Rear-seat room is not as ample as in the Mazda3 or Corolla, but it will serve you well in a pinch. As for the trunk, the opening is tight and makes loading big items a real chore.
While the Yaris Hatchback is a decent little car with a promise of flawless reliability for years to come, it loses a few points in the drive department. I’m not saying it’ll bore you to death, but there is room for improvement. By teaming up with Mazda for the 2016 Yaris Sedan, Toyota is certainly boosting the fun factor behind the wheel.
After all, Mazda may not have a stellar reputation like Toyota has, but it sure knows a few things about making cars that put a smile on a driver’s face. The Mazda2-based Yaris Sedan proves more pleasant to drive than the hatch.
Ironically, the Toyota Yaris Sedan features a 1.5L 4-cylinder engine like its five-door counterpart, but it’s a much different unit from the one we’re used to. Yes, folks, here is a Mazda-sourced SKYACTIV mill producing 106 horsepower and 103 lb-ft of torque. Transmission choices include a 6-speed manual and 6-speed automatic – a definite upgrade over the old engine.
Mazda’s expertise gives this new Yaris handling abilities that are near the top of its class. Steering is super-sharp, the suspension firmly hugs the road, and braking is good despite the drums in the rear. On more than one occasion, I had to slow down while tackling the twisty roads of the Quebec City area for fear of getting pulled over by a cop. The Yaris Sedan was injected with a good dose of “zoom-zoom” and it really shows, no matter which transmission you select.
The 2016 Toyota Yaris Sedan: Final verdict
With a price ranging from $16,995 (base model with manual transmission) to $20,200 (Premium model with automatic transmission), the new Yaris Sedan is aimed at a more financially comfortable type of buyer. Unlike some of Toyota’s previous entry-level models, it stands out with a long list of standard features including cruise control, air conditioning, push-button start, power windows, steering wheel-mounted audio controls, and more.
There you have it: The Yaris Sedan offers more value and is arguably a better driver than the Corolla. Only one question remains: Will it prove just as solid and reliable as its predecessor? Time will tell.