The 2019 Toyota Yaris: Perfect for a Student Driver

There’s a market for every car that makes it to production — no matter how big or small. Some are meant to thrill and excite, some are heavy duty haulers, while others fulfill the more mundane tasks daily drivers ask of them. Within this latter dichotomy we find the 2019 Toyota Yaris. It’s a perfectly capable car — neither your grandmother’s Oldsmobile, or your older brother’s Mustang. But it sure will get you around town!

Toyota, much like rivals Honda, has done well to target the majority of automotive consumers with their vast array of vehicle choices. Neither brands are going to turn many heads, but it’s hard to beat their reliability. We’re going to be discussing a prime example of Toyota’s perfectly-pitched pint-sized sedan, the 2019 Yaris. The smallest sedan in the lineup, the model holds true to the brand’s motto, from each exterior panel to every carpet fiber. Keep reading to find out how!

It may be of interest to readers that the Yaris model we will be speaking about in the following review is the sedan only. Both a sedan and hatchback models are available, but Edmunds clarified that the hatchback will be sold under the name “Yaris Liftback.” Volkswagen’s renaming of the Jetta wagon (henceforth known as the Golf wagon) is a similar example that comes to mind. On a similar note, the Yaris sedan, featured in this article, is comprised mostly of Mazda parts. The Yaris Liftback, however, is made officially by Toyota.

Performance

The 2019 Yaris is powered by a 1.5-liter 4-cylinder engine capable of 106 horsepower and 103 lb-ft of torque. This is the only engine available on the 2019 Yaris. Transmission options include either a 6-speed manual or a 6-speed automatic. All 2019 Toyota Yaris models are front-wheel drive only. It’s not extremely powerful, but that’s not what it claims to be. It will be good on gas and is a perfect commuter car with these specs.

Trimlines and Features

The 2019 Toyota Yaris is available in three distinct trim levels: L, LE, and XLE. Base L models are equipped with a 7-inch touchscreen display, SiriusXM capabilities, 15-inch wheels, sport front bucket seats, and Toyota’s Active Safe System. Consumers will receive fog lights, a rear spoiler, 16-inch wheels, and chrome exhaust tips on the LE model. Those looking to go big or go home will enjoy the XLE model’s LED auto on/off headlights and daytime running lights, automatic climate control, and leather seating. Note: the XLE model is only available with the 6-speed automatic transmission. The stick shift is available on the L and LE models.

Safety

The 2019 Yaris received an overall 5 out of 5 stars from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), receiving perfect scores in all categories except the Rollover and Front Passenger tests (where it scored 4 out of 5). The latest Yaris scored “Good” (the highest score) in all categories from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS). The 2019 Yaris sedan comes with automatic emergency braking and a low-speed forward-collision warning system, which applies the brakes at speeds under 12 miles-per-hour.

Fuel Efficiency

According to the EPA, the 2019 Yaris ranks in at 32 city and 40 highway EPA-estimated miles-per-gallon (MPG) in the 6-speed automatic transmission variant, while 6-speed manual transmissions only achieve 30 city and 39 highway MPG.

For comparison, the 2019 Ford Fiesta ranks in at 27 city and 35 highway MPG in the base model equipped with a 1.6-liter 4-cylinder paired with a 5-speed manual. The 2019 Nissan Versa has the exact same engine/transmission pairing and only achieves 27 city and 36 highway MPG. Finally, Honda’s 2019 Fit, when powered by a 1.5-liter 4-cylinder paired with a 6-speed manual transmission, still comes in under the 2019 Yaris, at 29 city and 36 highway MPG.

How the 2019 Toyota Yaris Compares

The 2019 Yaris seems to be a car that experts love to hate and hate to love. Smart-minded buyers will regret passing up the unique packaging of affordability, efficiency, and safety offered by Toyota in this tiny-but-mighty subcompact sedan.

Consumer Reports experts didn’t banish the 2019 Yaris to the economy car stockades, instead calling it “fresh and fun.” They appreciated the Mazda-sourced infotainment system and the “relatively smooth ride” found in the 2019 Yaris. However, like the folks over at Edmunds, they didn’t appreciate the small interior space or that the rear seats didn’t fold flat, especially with the lack of substantial cargo room.

Kelley Blue Book (KBB) reviewers appreciated how well the 2019 Yaris cornered, giving it an average resale value, which matches up with Toyota’s general outlook as a brand. While it seems they prefer the hatchback — or should we say the Liftback — over the sedan, neither should be dismissed lightly.

With a starting price just over $15,000, the new Yaris is the perfect car to invest in, either as a new parent or a first-time car buyer. Customers might only get a say in the transmission type when it comes to powertrain, but the list of other available features is much longer than most at this price point. In fact, Edmunds recommended the base L model (equipped with the manual transmission). Those looking for luxury elements should consider the LE and XLE.

We mentioned a few competitors in the “Fuel Efficiency” section of this article, such as the Ford Fiesta, Nissan Versa, and Honda Fit. KBB also names the Chevrolet Sonic and Hyundai Accent as well. Consumers might also consider the Mazda 3, a close cousin to the Yaris. While slightly smaller still, the MINI Cooper, Fiat 500, and VW Beetle offer their own unique style, complete with a pinch of adorable peppiness for good measure.

The subcompact segment is certainly well-stocked, but it wouldn’t hurt for potential buyers to consider mid-size sedans as well. Entry-level options include the VW Jetta (and perhaps the Golf), the Yaris’s bigger Corolla or Camry siblings, the Honda Accord and Civic, the Chevrolet Cruze, and even the Subaru Legacy. Price tags range between $20,000-$30,000 for those, but the extra money might be worth the investment. However, if you’re simply looking for a cheap, reliable vehicle that gets you from Point A to Point B without a ton of expensive extras, the Yaris is perfect.

The Good

  • Affordable
  • Peppy for the price
  • High fuel efficiency numbers

The Not-So-Good

  • You get what you pay for
  • Lack of power
  • Small interior space

The Last Word

Purchase the 2019 Toyota Yaris for your teenager, your college graduate, or even for yourself! In sedan and hatchback forms, the model performs like a well-trained canine companion — faithfully at your side and ready to play at a moment’s notice. Add the 2019 Yaris to your test-drive list today. Being responsible and rewarding yourself are both possible with this fun-sized sedan from Toyota.

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