2017 Toyota Yaris iA Performance Review

Note: This performance review was created when the 2017 Toyota Yaris iA was new.

Scorecard

Performance: 8.0

The 2017 Toyota Yaris iA (previously known as the Scion iA) delivers agile handling and communicative steering that make it fun to drive. The iA is based on the Mazda2 (now sold overseas), and most automotive critics agree it’s one of the most entertaining cars in its class. The iA's fuel economy is outstanding, though it does lack the engine power needed for quick acceleration and highway passing.

  • "So the Scion iA is our only access to the new Mazda 2 in any form. And it's a car that, as it turns out, is every bit as sweet to drive as we could have hoped." -- Car and Driver (2016)
  • "For a 1.5-liter 4-cylinder engine that makes just 106 horsepower and 103 lb-ft of torque without a turbocharger in sight, driving the iA is surprisingly enjoyable." -- Autotrader (2016)
  • "But the Chevy Sonic and Ford Fiesta have proven that it's possible to deliver a good driving experience at this price point, and the Scion iA joins the club." -- Automobile Magazine (2016)

Acceleration and Power

The 2017 Toyota Yaris iA is powered by a 1.5-liter four-cylinder engine that delivers 106 horsepower. A six-speed manual transmission and front-wheel drive are standard. A six-speed automatic is available. The Yaris iA can deliver an EPA-estimated 32 mpg in the city and 40 mpg on the highway with the automatic transmission, which is excellent for the class.

The Yaris iA offers adequate power for cruising in the city, though it feels sluggish when getting up to highway speeds or climbing steep hills. The manual transmission serves up clean, slick gear shifts. The automatic transmission shifts promptly and smoothly.

  • 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." -- Edmunds
  • With the automatic transmission, the iA can easily keep up with traffic, though flooring the throttle from a stop doesn't seem to encourage much more urgency than a quarter-throttle stab. … On the positive side, the transmission kicks down quickly for decent around-town passing response, though the car seems to run out of breath at about 60 mph." -- Consumer Guide (2016)
  • "The best news by far is how well the iA drives thanks to the Mazda 2 mechanicals. Those include its 106-hp 1.5-liter Skyactiv four-cylinder, which we wouldn't consider muscular, yet it makes easy work of scooting the roughly 2400-pound iA through traffic. The engine feels sinewy and smooth. … Unsurprisingly, we prefer the six-speed manual on account of its short throws, precise gates, and light clutch. But we can't fault those who choose the excellent six-speed automatic." -- Car and Driver (2016)

Handling and Braking

The Toyota Yaris iA offers a great balance of agility and cornering prowess, yet it still provides a comfortable ride. That’s not something that you’ll find in many of the iA’s subcompact car rivals. The steering wheel provides good feedback and the brakes stop the car with command.

  • "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." -- Edmunds
  • "Feedback pours through the iA's small-diameter steering wheel, and turn-in is crisp but never darty. The brakes, too, bite with supreme confidence. We noticed none of the noise or harshness that can sometimes accompany twist-beam rear axles like the one in this Scion." -- Car and Driver (2016)
  • "While the iA is hardly a sporting machine from a dynamic standpoint, it's certainly capable enough. The suspension and tires soak up smaller bumps quite well, though larger ones … were more noticed. Even with their suspensions set to 'compliant,' small, light cars such as this can still feel quite nimble and tossable in the twisties (which we found aplenty), and the iA proved the rule by carving through corners with assurance and stability if not record-setting speed." -- Consumer Guide (2016)

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