(Contributing Editor: Susan Frissell)

 

Louis Vuitton handbags are designed and made in France. They are coveted haute couture fashion, with high extrinsic value.

 

Toyota Yaris (Vitz) 5-door mini cars are also designed and made in France. They aren’t haute automotive fashion, but they are high on intrinsic value. Even in their 2017 MY refresh press kit, the Japanese automaker used the description “…helps driver’s get from Point A to Point B….”

 

Basic goodness was already baked into the 3rd Generation Toyota Yaris 5-door. Last year’s .3 refresh brought a high level of standard safety features and added creature comforts, while this year sees new visual cues.

 

Eking the recently tested 2018 Toyota Yaris 5 Door Liftback a place on the Roadblazing / “Drive…He Said” Budget Subcompact Car list.

 

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Must Haves:

Low M.S.R.P:

from $16,755 (incl. destination) for a 5-speed manual 2018 Toyota Yaris 5 door L . Our test vehicle was a top spec 2018 Yaris 5 door SE = $20,530 M.S.R.P.

Low transaction price:

Check Toyota.com & Toyota dealers for their extensive purchase, finance incentives.

Despite currently rising retail gasoline prices American urban drivers’ gravitation from econo-box hatchbacks to crossovers hasn’t waned, leaving plenty of price negotiating wiggle room on Yaris hatchbacks.

Sufficient capacity, Versatile use of space:

Par for the segment = fixed height front pax seat; Above par = pliably supportive lower and lumbar area cushions; Rear head rests impede rear backlight visibility; Comprehensible but sunwash prone analog gauge cluster with dim LCD trip data display, Finger friendly switches, positive action rotary dials; Front door / Rear door pocket storage = Adequate / Pales.

For Comparison’s Sake: 2018 Toyota Yaris 5-door rear legroom & under hatch cargo volume vs. Kia Rio 5-door = 0.0″-inches, -11%, vs. Honda Fit = -5.0″-inches, -11%

Average fuel economy, blame the 4-speed automatic:

33 miles per gallon in combined driving, 390 mile highway range on 87 octane unleaded fuel.

Push the accelerator on that freeway long-ramp merge:

Smooth transmission has gated 3rd & lower gear lock but makes do without manumatic

Acceptable ride/ handling

Semi independent rear torsion beam setup is matched with compliant springs and controlled rebound shocks to grant even 50 series tires on 16″-inch alloys taut but un-jarring ride; There is the in-excessive heftily winding and mostly accurate steering rack; The [SE’s] 4-wheels discs’ linear pedal action and reaction are a treat among city cars.

Reliability & durability:

Mostly tight grained hard cabin plastics, with a half-finished low mid center console;  Doors feature positive action, but liftgate requires force to fully close; Serene cabin gets noisy above 70 m.p.h. when engine noise starts invading. Hey, IT’S A TOYOTA. Need anymore be said?

O.K. warranty, Zero cost initial maintenance

It; 5 year / 60,000 miles powertrain (diminishing to 5 yr. / 60k on resale); 3 year / 36,000 mile bumper-to-bumper warranties; 2 yr. / 25k mi included maintenance.

Styling = Euro micro hatchback

For 2018 the French design studio bestows a Prius-mimicking pointy-nose swapping out wispy horizontal grille for solid insert; Lower fascia corners gain vertical faux snorkels w/ fog lights (SE); Front light housing adds horizontal Y-shaped DRLs, (SE) with wider wrap-around housings and smoother lower fascia in rear;

Generous standard equipment set:

Standard: Power windows (driver’s express down), door locks; Air condition, Dual vanity sun-visors, Tilt steering wheel, Front overhead map lights; 60/40 split folding 2nd row seatbacks; Cargo bay tonneau cover;

Good safety feature set & ratings:

9 airbags (incl. driver’s knee front cushions), Rear view camera w/ park guidance grid, Automatic lights, Toyota Safety Sense-C: Lane departure, pre-collision warning, automatic high beam headlights.

IIHS: Front/ Side/ Small Frontal Overlap Impact resistance: Good/ Good/ Marginal

 

Making Life Easier Behind the Wheel:

Remote keyless entry

Bluetooth handsfree phone & audio connectivity

Steering wheel horizontal spoke audio & voice command controls

Cruise control (LE and up)

Touch infotainment display: 6.1″-inch Entune touch LCD display FM/AM Audio with USB, Aux, I-pod, streaming inputs, 6-speaker 160W audio, advanced voice recognition, Siri assist;

USB x 1 ports, 12V x 1 power ports

Modest front center stack wireless device storage

 

Nice To Have:

Rear disc brakes (SE only)

Projector headlamps, LED DRLs (SE only)

SE: 7.1″ Entune Premium audio touch display, HD radio, weather, traffic & Scout GPS Link wireless app navigation, Sirius XM radio (90 days complimentary) (SE only)

 

Wish It Had But Doesn’t:

-1: 2018 Toyota Yaris 5 door SE lacks rear seat door pocket bottle holders, with but one in the aft section of front center console,  telescoping steering wheel and front center armrest.

 

Which to Skip, Which to Pick:

Climb to middle LE rung for cruise control and 15″ alloy wheels; Snap in a dashboard air duct smart phone mount to forego the pricier SE’s app based Navigation;

 

Buying Tips:

1) Try locating an outgoing model year vehicle. They come with greater manufacture incentives.

2) Do Your Homework.” Scour manufacturer websites for “Rebates“, “Incentives” or “Special Offers.”

3) Be flexible on options and colors. Be willing to consider what other consumers would typically pass on.

4) Inquire with new car dealers about renting a similar model service loaner vehicle for an extended test drive.