Toyota Yaris iA — Attractive car at attractive price

By David Finkelstein

Heavily influenced with Mazda engineering, Toyota Motors is offering the 2017 Yaris iA sedan at an attractive price point in order to allure budget minded consumers. Sold under the Scion Division from Toyota in the previous model year, the '17 version has a dramatically sporty look about it plus agile road handling capabilities.

Powering the iA is a spirited, 1.5-liter DOHC high compression, 16-valve, direct injected four cylinder engine. It generates 106-horsepower. The engine is designed to operate on regular grade gasoline and not the more expensive premium fuels.

The engines passing performance isn't ”head snapping” but the underlining “trade off” is the fuel mileage savings, as the EPA numbers show 40-MPG highway and 32-MPG city with the optional 6-speed automatic transmission. A 6-speed ultra lightweight/low friction manual gear box is standard on the iA as well.

Worth noting, fuel mileage figures diminish a slight bit with the manual tranny therefore, the automatic may actually pay for itself in time. All versions come with a front-wheel-drive chassis and 16-inch alloy wheels.

With it's adequate roomy interior, some of the standard equipment on this sub compact four door automobile include a 60/40-split rear fold forward seat (for added cargo capacity) plus an electronic keyless entry system with push-button start. The premium chrome accents and soft-touch trim surfaces are eye catching in the passenger cabin.

Additionally, the factory includes a 10-inch fore/aft slide adjustment and seat height adjuster as standard with the drivers seat. Cruise control, power windows, locks and power exterior door mirrors are included at no extra cost. The tilt and telescoping steering wheel has control switches for the audio and Bluetooth technology. The standard 7-inch Display Audio system has a touch screen, six speakers, remote interface with Pandora, Aha and Stitcher of which provides a huge music, talk and pod cast universe when paired with a compatible iPhone phone.

For those who bring their own music to the iA, two USB ports and an Auxiliary input jack are standard. In respect to keeping your eyes on the road and your hands positioned on the wheel, you can use the voice recognition to control many of the multimedia system features.

An available navigation system is also offered through the Toyota dealership network. The car is also showcased with a high-strength steel structure that helps to form the foundation for outstanding safety. This helps to set the stage for a IIHS Top Safety Pick+ crash test recommendation.

Additionally, under the heading of safety, engineers made certain that the roof construction affixed to the body side B-pillars and underbody assemble, including the floor pan was meticulously designed with the use of high-tensile steel. The end game was  forming a robust structure overall. Front side airbags and curtain airbags help protect front and rear seat occupants.

But the biggest safety news in this low-priced, high-MPG model is a standard Low-speed Pre-collision system that uses a laser to help the driver avoid certain frontal collisions with another vehicle, which in turn help minimize damage in the event of an accident. The iA also features a standard brake override system and a rear view backup camera.

The iA sports sedan has been hailed for its sleek and modern styling and sporty driving dynamics. The cars front end has an eye-catching design element with a hexagon lower grille and sharp-eyed headlights. In the rear, the spacious trunk gives it a distinctive look in the segment. The iA demonstrates a striking profile that certainly tends to over shadow other models in this class.

To make the most of its sophisticate foot print, the iA also sports an upscale looking piano black bumper treatment, chrome grille surround and chrome exhaust tailpipe. The color choices deliver a range of vibrant intensity as the list includes; Stealth, Abyss, Graphite, Pulse, Sapphire, Chromium and Frost.

Does this car help to re define entry level automobiles? Perhaps, with its nimble handling and sophisticated appearance that clearly suggests that it is in fact a Toyota. The MacPherson strut front suspension and torsion beam rear suspension are tuned for a just-right balance of sporty handling and comfortable ride, not normally associated with this automotive segment.

Steering and brake system tuning, in particular, received attention befitting of a sports sedan. The Yaris iA uses a rigid steering mount, which provides a direct yet light feel to the driver. Progressive brake pedal feel provides smooth operation that translates to driving confidence. Toyota’s 36-month/36,000 mile basic new-vehicle warranty applies to all components other than normal wear and maintenance items. Additional 60-month warranties cover the powertrain for 60,000 miles and corrosion with no mileage limitation.

Standard Toyota Care is a complimentary plan covering normal factory-scheduled maintenance and 24-hour roadside assistance for two years or 25,000 miles, whichever comes first.

At road test, the five passenger 2017 Yaris iA I drove had an MSRP sticker price of $16,815. iA is often cross shopped with the Mitsubishi Mirage, Ford Fiesta, Chevrolet Spark and the Nissan Versa.