2018 Toyota Yaris iA Performance Review

Note: This performance review was created when the 2018 Toyota Yaris iA was new.


Performance: 7.9

The 2018 Toyota Yaris iA isn’t the most powerful car on the market, but its sharp handling and accurate steering make it a pleasure to drive. It also has some of the best fuel economy estimates in the class.

  • “For a car with a 1.5-liter 4-cylinder engine that makes just 106 hp and 103 lb-ft of torque without a turbocharger in sight, the iA is surprisingly enjoyable to drive. There's no doubt the car's relatively light weight of just under 2,500 pounds is a factor here, although the engine is eager to rev. Steep hills are no big deal, and there's plenty of pep for most commutes and excursions.” -- Autotrader (2017)
  • “The meandering ribbons of pavement that connect Malibu to the San Fernando Valley gave us ample opportunities to savor the sublime handling and the suspension’s ability to manage body motions. Feedback pours through the iA’s small-diameter steering wheel, and turn-in is crisp but never darty.” -- Car and Driver (2016)
  • Our praise for the Yaris iA comes to an end, however, once the car leaves the driveway. On the road, we found the steering feel to be vague and disconnected, acceleration and merging power to be woefully inadequate and a body that sways like a Kansas wheat field on a breezy day. Once away from twisting roads, the Yaris iA's ride is quite comfortable, the cabin fairly quiet and its maneuverability quite good." -- Kelley Blue Book (2017)

Acceleration and Power

The front-wheel-drive Toyota Yaris iA has a 1.5-liter four-cylinder engine that puts out an underwhelming 106 horsepower. A six-speed manual transmission is standard, and a six-speed automatic is available. With the automatic transmission, the Yaris iA gets an EPA-estimated 32 mpg in the city and 40 mpg on the highway, which is great for the class.

The engine provides sluggish acceleration, which is especially noticeable on the highway and up steep hills. The manual and automatic transmissions help make up for this lack of power. The manual delivers quick and precise shifts, while the automatic is just as good and comes with a Sport mode for better acceleration. 

  • “The standard transmission is a 6-speed manual, but most buyers will pay the extra $1,100 and go for a 6-speed automatic. It's a regular, planetary-geared unit (as opposed to a continuously variable transmission), and it shifts just as smartly as it does in other cars produced by Mazda. If anyone does go for the stick shift, the action is fairly quick and slick, though the clutch bites quite high within the pedal's range of travel.” -- Autotrader (2017)
  • “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 (2017)
  • “The engine feels sinewy and smooth, making revving to the 6000-rpm horsepower peak a real joy. Full torque, all 103 lb-ft of it, is available at 4000 rpm. 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 Yaris iA is no sports car, but it has solid driving dynamics. Its handling is communicative without creating an uncomfortable ride quality. Road noise in the cabin is kept to a minimum, and the steering is well-weighted.

  • “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 (2017)
  • “The rest of the driving experience is true to its Mazda engineering rather than its Toyota badge ... that's a good thing. Although certainly not as sharp to drive as the pricier Mazda3, the iA is nevertheless blessed with responsive steering and sharp reactions that make it one of the best subcompacts to drive. It's also sufficiently solid and quiet for a small, inexpensive car, though the ride can be a bit firm.” -- Autotrader (2017)
  • It’s certainly slow—8.7 seconds to 60 mph and a 16.8-second quarter-mile at 84 mph—and yet is a joy to drive quickly, thanks to a smooth and satisfying shifter, nicely weighted steering with great on-center feel, and a rev-happy little four-cylinder." -- Car and Driver (2017)

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