$9,992 - $12,528

2016 Toyota Yaris Performance Review

Note: This performance review was created when the 2016 Toyota Yaris was new.


Performance: 6.5

Reviewers think the 2016 Toyota Yaris has suitable power for city driving. For highway passing and merging, however, they say there isn’t enough under the hood. Moreover, most agree that both its standard manual and optional automatic transmissions hinder performance. While critics say the Yaris isn't as athletic or smooth-riding as rivals, they think it feels fairly composed through turns. The Yaris' fuel economy is average for the class.

  • Although improvements to last year's model resulted in a stiffer body and better suspension, the overall driving feel behind the 2016 Toyota Yaris' wheel is still rather mundane." -- Kelley Blue Book
  • "It's a nimble and agreeable companion around town, and its competent suspension helps the car cruise around turns with impressive stability. Overall, this is a pleasant and easy car to drive." -- Edmunds (2015)
  • "Cruising around the Big Island in the updated Yaris was pleasant, with none of the roads presenting anything in the way of a challenge to the five-passenger car." -- Autoblog (2015)
  • We have to hand it to Toyota for providing so much for so little, but if it had a powertrain that responds to the note of a well-blown conch shell, the Yaris would be a cheaper keeper." -- Automobile Magazine (2015)
  • "The raucous engine is a bit of a killjoy." -- AutoTrader (2014)

Acceleration and Power

The 2016 Toyota Yaris has a 1.5-liter four-cylinder engine that makes 106 horsepower. A five-speed manual transmission is standard and a four-speed automatic is available. According to the EPA, the base Yaris earns 30/37 mpg city/highway, which is on par with most cars in the class.

Auto writers think the 2016 Toyota Yaris has adequate acceleration, though they note that there isn't much power for merging or passing on the highway. They also complain that the standard five-speed manual transmission's clutch is difficult to engage smoothly, and the available four-speed automatic is dated and a poor performer. Most rivals offer either a six-speed or a continuously variable transmission (which acts like an automatic), both of which deliver better fuel economy.

  • "With only 106 horsepower, the Yaris' engine isn't very powerful. Acceleration is acceptable, but don't expect a lot of power for passing or merging, especially when others are along for the ride. The antiquated 4-speed automatic doesn't help matters much and the 5-speed manual, a feature we usually enjoy, feels rubbery and vague." -- Kelley Blue Book
  • "The DOHC 1.5-liter four-cylinder is happy to rev smoothly on the way to 106 hp and 103 lb-ft of torque, but its limited ambition is thwarted by either of two curmudgeonly transmissions. The slack clutch (said to be improved) with a late engagement point hampers the five-speed manual gearbox. And the four-speed automatic is simply primitive." -- Automobile Magazine (2015)
  • "The engines and transmission not only carry over from 2014 to 2015, but they date back to the original Toyota Yaris introduced back in 2007. Now, age doesn't necessarily equate to inferiority, but the four-speed automatic trails well behind its competitors in terms of performance and efficiency. Most competitors in this class have six-speed or continuously variable (CVT) transmissions that do a better job of maximizing performance and fuel economy." -- Edmunds (2015)
  • "I was unimpressed with the standard five-speed manual gearbox, which feels like a throwback to the mid-90s. Its clutch is light and its engagement point is awkward, sitting at the very top of the clutch pedal's travel, just before it is fully released. An excessive amount of engine rpm is thus required to launch from a standstill, as the engine doesn't have enough torque, power or mass (or all three) to keep itself from stalling under load at idle." -- Autoblog (2015)

Handling and Braking

Critics say the Toyota Yaris is neither as engaging to drive as the Ford Fiesta, nor as smooth a ride as the Nissan Versa. Some add that the sport-tuned Yaris SE doesn't feel notably sportier. Still, most reviewers say the Yaris feels fairly controlled around corners.

  • "Pushing the Yaris around some of the island's bends demonstrated its competence, but not supremacy. The independent front MacPherson strut and torsion-beam rear suspension do everything they are designed to do, and the subcompact feels stable, easy to control and surprisingly well balanced." -- Autoblog (2015)
  • The SE has suspension components tuned for sport, a solid front stabilizer bar, and four-wheel disc brakes with larger front rotors, yet we never had the impression the car wanted to go rallying." -- Automobile Magazine (2015)
  • "Numerous body-strengthening measures result in a weight loss of 44 pounds. There are also numerous suspension improvements including reduced spring rates front and rear, a revised torsion beam in the rear for greater body roll reduction and a solid front stabilizer bar (versus a hollow one). These changes promise improvements to both ride and handling, but during our test-drive the Yaris still didn't seem to match the playful nature of the Ford Fiesta and Chevrolet Sonic or the plush ride of the Nissan Versa." -- Edmunds (2015)

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