The entire Yaris range gets a longer wheelbase by two inches, and an overall increase in length by three inches. Even though it’s only taller by 0.6 inches, somehow Toyota engineers found an additional 68% more cargo space inside, possibly stealing some technology from Doctor Who’s TARDIS. The front facelift gets a more peaky bulldog-like nose, in line with the rest of Toyota’s lineup, while the back bumper gets aggressive cutouts and no-nonsense white and red tailights.
Engine choices stay the same, at a 106-horsepower inline-four with 1.5 liters and Toyota’s VVT-i valve timing technology. But the engine is bolted to a new four-speed automatic transmission that’s smaller and lighter than the outgoing slushbox. A five-speed manual is still available. Toyota has yet to release complete fuel economy specs, but does say the Yaris will achieve 38-mpg on the highway – two ticks short of the 2012 Hyundai Accent.
The SE model is Toyota’s version of a hot hatch: it gets larger tires and disc brakes, quicker steering, a differently-tuned MacPherson-strut suspension, and a snazzier interior. But all models come with air conditioning, six cupholders, power everything, and a whopping nine airbags to make you feel like you’re being bear-hugged by the Michelin Man.
All this for only a moderate increase in base price: from $13,155 to $14,115 for the base L three-door with a manual transmission. This still undercuts the Honda Fit by about $1000 and the Mazda2 by exactly $65, which still makes for good advertising. Altogether, the Yaris tops out at $17,200 for the top-of-the-line SE five-door with an automatic.