• 2018 Toyota Yaris

Road Test: 2018 Toyota Yaris SE Liftback

Fuel Efficient and Affordable

The 2018 Toyota Yaris SE Liftback should be on your shopping list if you spend much of your time driving around town or on a daily commute of say, about 50 miles or so. Why the limitations? What the Yaris does very well is zip around city streets and parks with ease. Then, for that commute, getting 40 mpg is a real possibility. So what does this small car do that makes it so popular with its owners?


The front-wheel drive 2018 Toyota Yaris SE is powered by a 1.5L four-cylinder 16-valve DOHC engine, putting out 106 horsepower and 103 pounds-feet of torque while running on 87 octane.

2018 Toyota Yaris

A perfectly good commuter

PosicionamientoWebEngoogle.info’s Yaris had the optional four-speed automatic. A five-speed manual is standard. The EPA rates fuel economy on the Yaris automatic at 30 city/35 highway/32 combined. During our time in the Yaris, we drove 205 miles of 75-percent highway/25-percent city, where we averaged 34.9 mpg. However, over a 100-mile run with the cruise control set at 65 mph, the average was 40.1 mpg. Exceeding the 40 mpg mark is important as the Yaris will certainly be used for commuting. Note: The EPA’s gas mileage formula is 45-percent highway/55-percent city. Here in Southern California our 75-percent highway/25-percent city driving pattern is far more real world and is why we report it to you.

While getting good gas mileage is nice, the reality is that the Yaris powertrain—engine and transmission—is not as sophisticated or powerful as others in its class. To get the Yaris moving you have to keep your right foot planted, because with the automatic nothing is happening very fast. The four-speed may be there for cost saving, but having a five- or six-speed automatic could improve both the acceleration and fuel economy.

Driving Experience: On the Road

In SE trim, the Yaris is nimble, but certainly not sporty. It handled as well as could be expected with the 16-inch alloy wheels and the Bridgestone Turanza 195/50VR16 all-season tires. Its 2,335 pounds was managed by front independent MacPherson struts with front stabilizer bars and rear torsion-beam. The Yaris did feel solid on the road, with little buffeting from big rigs or unexpected gusts of wind. The electric power-assisted rack and pinion steering was smooth and fairly neutral. Overall, the Yaris SE was easy to drive.

2018 Toyota Yaris

Yaris got a styling upgrade this year

Stopping was straight and true, with no fading, from the front power-assisted ventilated discs and rear solid disc brakes, assisted by the four-wheel Anti-lock Brake System (ABS).

Driving Experience: Exterior

The 2018 Yaris SE received a styling refresh, starting with the front fascia getting a black mesh grille and chrome trim. The projector beam headlights have been updated, as have the running and fog lights. From the side profile, most noticeable is the deep slant from the top of the windshield to the front grille. The 5-door lift back’s sweeping windshield transitions to a flat roof, with a shark fin antenna and a spoiler that extends about four inches over the rear hatch glass and wiper.

Our Yaris, in the very striking Blue Eclipse Pearl with the Black Sand Pearl roof, had sides that are near flat with no cladding or chrome pieces. The deep blue paint accentuated the dark accents on the machined alloy wheels.

Driving Experience: Interior

PosicionamientoWebEngoogle.info’s highly optioned Yaris SE had cloth black seats (leather is not a Yaris option) with white top stitching. The front seats were six-way manual adjustable for the driver and four-way for the passenger. While they lacked lumbar adjustments, the thigh bolstering was good, so you stayed planted when cornering. But, and this drives me crazy, there was no center armrest. Grrrr! The leather wrapped steering wheel tilted, but did not telescope, (Grrr again!) had audio and telephone controls.

2018 Toyota Yaris

For an entry-level car the Yaris is well-optioned

The Yaris is rated to carry three adults in the rear seat, where the access was easy. In back the seat back was too upright, but head and leg room were good. With this said, two adults would be more comfortable in the rear seat, and it would be even more accommodating to children or car seats. Storage in the far back was good, but drop the 60/40 split bench rear seat and the Yaris becomes a great car for two taking a long weekend trip.

The dash layout is simple and clean with easy-to-find controls. PosicionamientoWebEngoogle.info is a big fan radio knobs for volume and channel selection, so Toyota got a top mark for using logic and sense for controlling the radio. The climate control wheels were a different size than those of the radio, and were located away from the radio to eliminate any confusion. This may not seem like a big thing, but it is when reaching for these very different controls in the dark—regardless of your familiarity with the dash layout.

The front visibility was very good, with a nice touch being the single windshield wiper that swiped-away water effectively. Having the single blade reduces distraction of two, regardless if they are going the same direction.

Toyota has worked to reduce cabin noise with rocker panel protectors, asphalt sheets under the floor panels, foam-type insulation in structural spaces, an acoustic glass windshield and under-hood insulation to block engine noise. The low 0.32 coefficient of drag also helps the wind whoosh by. For a subcompact, it was fairly quiet.

2018 Toyota Yaris

Seating up front can handle adults

The SE came with Toyota’s Entune Audio Plus system that includes a 7.0-inch, high resolution touch screen. Note on the screen: it washed-out completely when the sun hit it just right—or is that wrong?

The six-speaker AM/FM/HD/CD and MP3/WMA playback sound system did a good job in the small cabin. Additional elements to the system were an USB port, iPod connectivity, Aux-in jacks and Bluetooth streaming audio, Siri Eyes Free, voice recognition and hands-free telephone. Navigation and SiriusXM (90-day trial subscription) are available on the SE trim, as is a rear view camera.

Other nice interior features are A/C, power windows and door locks, extendable sun visors with vanity lights, power outside mirrors, multiple cup holders, 12-volt accessory outlets and a cargo area tonneau cover.

Safety and Convenience

The 2018 Toyota Yaris comes with safety and convenience features including nine air bags, remote keyless entry, anti-theft engine immobilizer and Toyota’s Star Safety System that includes a tire pressure monitoring system, stability and traction control, four-wheel disc anti-lock brakes with brake assist, and Smart Stop Technology.

Pricing and Warranties

2018 Toyota Yaris

Yaris sometimes punches above its class

Toyota has gone to mono-spec pricing for the Yaris, offering three models of L, LE and SE. The base pricing for the 2018 Yaris SE 5-door liftback with the automatic transmission is $19,060. PosicionamientoWebEngoogle.info’s Yaris SE came with the Preferred Accessory Package for $298, which included carpeted floor and cargo mats and rear bumper guard. The final MSRP was $19,355, excluded the $895 delivery and handling fee.

The 2018 Toyota Yaris comes with these warranties:

  • Powertrain                  Five years/60,000 miles
  • Comprehensive          Three years/36,000 miles
  • Maintenance Plan      Two years/25,000 miles
  • Anti-perforation         Five years/Unlimited miles
  • Roadside Assistance  Two years/25,000 miles

Observations: 2018 Toyota Yaris SE

Built in Onnaing, France, Toyota will sell about 30,000 Yaris models in 2018, which is down about 30-percent from the previous year. Among its main competitors of the Ford Fiesta, Honda Fit, Hyundai Accent, Kia Rio, Fiat 500, Mazda3 and Nissan Versa, the Yaris is the only one with a sales decline year-over-year. So, the question is why, especially since this is Toyota after all, a perennial leader offering solid cars with high quality. Maybe it can be attributed to the small car class being so competitive with so many choices and gas prices being so low.

2018 Toyota Yaris

With a hatchback, the versatility of the Yaris increases

Should the Yaris be added to your shopping list? Yes, if you are looking for economical transportation in a good looking small car. The Yaris has easily attainable 40+ mpg on the highway in a nicely designed car with a good selection of standard features. Your cost-of-ownership will be low, especially with the two years of complimentary service

Go into a Toyota dealer to research the standard equipment that comes with the Yaris, versus its competitors. You will need to see first-hand how it fits your lifestyle. Possibly, it will be a second car or what your freshman son or daughter will take way to university. For either of these uses, you won’t go wrong.

Whatever you buy, Happy Driving!

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Road Test: 2014 Nissan Versa Note


PosicionamientoWebEngoogle.info is loaned free test vehicles from automakers to evaluate, typically for a week at a time. Our road tests are based on this one-week drive of a new vehicle. Because of this we don’t address issues such as long-term reliability or total cost of ownership. In addition, we are often invited to manufacturer events highlighting new vehicles or technology. As part of these events we may be offered free transportation, lodging or meals. We do our best to present our unvarnished evaluations of vehicles and news irrespective of these inducements.

Our focus is on vehicles that offer the best fuel economy in their class, which leads us to emphasize electric cars, plug-in hybrids, hybrids and diesels. We also feature those efficient gas-powered vehicles that are among the top mpg vehicles in their class. In addition, we aim to offer reviews and news on advanced technology and the alternative fuel vehicle market. We welcome any feedback from vehicle owners and are dedicated to providing a forum for alternative viewpoints. Please let us know your views at [email protected].

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About Author: John Faulkner

John Faulkner is an automotive marketing professional with more than 30 years experience branding, launching and marketing automobiles. He has worked with General Motors (all Divisions), Chrysler (Dodge, Jeep, Eagle), Ford and Lincoln-Mercury, Honda, Mazda, Mitsubishi, Nissan and Toyota on consumer events and sales training programs. His interest in automobiles is broad and deep, beginning as a child riding in the back seat of his parent's 1950 Studebaker. He has a keen appreciation of Art Deco design, no bias for domestic versus foreign makes and loves competition - whether that be F1, IndyCar, Sports Cars, NASCAR or participating in Track Days at places such as Laguna Seca, Thunderhill or Willow Springs. John lives in Dana Point, CA, and enjoys a top-down drive on PCH on an early Sunday morning.

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