“BETRACHTER” is the German word for BEHOLDER: Somehow it needs to be incorporated into a new portmanteau with “JA” and the Greek word “CHARIS”. Finding the Hellenistic notion of outward beauty head-on in the 2019 Toyota Yaris requires 3-D glasses or approaching from the aft.

The 2019 Yaris isn’t just another Toyota trapezoid grille gone slightly awry. A handsomely faced Mazda2 had to be re-faced for marketing purposes in a market which doesn’t know that model, except as a Mazda CX-3 personal crossover.

Having previously experienced an uncommonly positive experience at sister outlet ChicagoNow.com “Drive…He Said, when this entry level subcompact sedan was branded Scion iA, a re-visit will tell whether another pass can be issued to a visage faux pas.

 

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2019 Toyota Yaris Sedan highlights:

– Starting price, including destination = $16,555 L front-drive, 16V DOHC 1.3L inline-4 cylinder, 6-speed manual transmission.

Toyota goes to partner Mazda for a small car shirking U.S. market small car and the results are pretty desirable.

– Among your more coupe-ey subcompact sedans with an arched hood, muscular fenders and rear quarters, tandem rising beltline and cheat-line into a shrunken Mazda6 tall trunk lid finished with an integrated spoiler tweezed taillamps wrapping around from the cinched trunk lid mid-section.  and a and  for former opposed piston emblems. Lighting is full LED, with amber LEDs fill in front & rear directionals.  GT trim models feature a matte black elevated trunk lid spoiler.

-1 It’s not polite to stare at the maw nosed adoption of Toyota’s tall trapezoid grille.

– Instrumentation focuses on a center focused analog speedometer flanked by TFT color tachometer and multi-function display. A chrome accent bezel spiffs up the cluster, though the sun often spanks the left flanking tach. A minimum of physical switches benefit from spot on location. Yaris XLE finds finer metallic automatic climate control dials. Audio controls volume and selection, however, must be made by the center console rotary command and volume knobs. Illuminated redundant and cruise control steering wheel spoke switches can look add-on or otherwise lack tactile distinctiveness.

– Most entry level models have resorted to dash-top pod style touch operation infotainment displays. In the Yaris, fitted with MazdaConnect display, touch display operation is only possible when parked. Certainly, the long span to the 7.0″ dashtop LCD screen compels reliance on a fancy aluminum center console twisting/ tilting command remote command knob. It’s a laudable effort to imitate what is found in high priced luxury German cars. Yet with vastly fewer infotainment operations, such extra fuss to scan radio stations is well, a fuss.

Wireless connectivity is a paper thinly veiled edition of already pretty spare Mazda Connected apps called Connective Services Suite. Don’t even get Roadblazing.com started on the useless HD traffic up. Or the long A-Ha radio spool-up delay. What’s worse, in un-Mazda fashion, Android Auto / Apple CarPlay are absent, in a car promoted to a generation connected to wireless apps since age 12.

– Cabin panels smack of business casual, a treat among entry vehicles. Dashtop and upper door panels consist of distressed grain dense insulated hard plastics reminiscent of 1980’s vintage Mercedes-Benz. Softex imitation leather is blue contrast stitched on the middle dashboard, middle door panels and outboard center console. A fair share of of simulated aluminum accents provide the contrast. Even the sub-knee level plastics acquit themselves as not in the least bit flimsy.

– Good looking and feeling Softex front bucket seats lean towards leaner bodied. Note the notably aggressive cushion bolstering which vindicates itself in moments of body roll.  Raising those driver’s rear outward view clouding rear seat headrests should be confined to times when occupants find their way back. Knee space is strictly average adult acceptable, with a lowered cushion to enhance headroom. -1 No front center armrest.

– Yaris’ engorged trunk, with split folding rear seat back expansion, is raring to take belongings for four on a week’s road tour. There’s a real in-dash glovebox. Center console storage is deep enough for dual cup holders. Door pockets are included, too. One bad = the keyless start / stop module which consumes wireless device cubby space. 6 cup, bottle holders, overhead retracting sunglass bin.

– 106 hp from the 1.5L 16V DOHC inline-4 engine is well shy of what is put out by competing sized powerplants from Hyundai in their latest Accent. What saves Yaris from road turtle status is being 200 lbs. < than the Accent. But that doesn’t bode well for cabin sound insulation. Carefully planned aspirational highway passing leaves no choice other than a Sport transaxle shift mode toggle. On the plus side there’s none of that engine revolution sawing which characterizes CVTs.

The rear torsion beam keeps the Yaris light. There is surprising bump absorption in a lazily taut way. Without enough power to brute the chassis into corner understeer, roll isn’t by any means excessive. Sharp turn in is aided by an able steering rack. Front vented discs offer ample biting force before locking the rear drums.

– observed 38 MPG surpasses EPA combined fuel economy estimates by 7%

– SAFETY = 6 Airbags;  Standard rear camera w/ predictive grid; Forward collsion warning, emergency avoidance and post collision braking; (XLE only): Full LED head and tail-lamps; +1 Rain sensing windshield wipers.

– INCLUDED = Keyless entry & ignition, cruise control, power windows x 2, driver’s express; 7.0″ touch / remote LCD infotainment display, air conditioning, heated side mirrors, Bluetooth handsfree communications, text messaging, 6 speaker HD radio streaming audio w/ Sirius XM (90 days trial), Connect Apps, USB x 2, 12V x 1.

– MAJOR OPTIONS = (avail.) dealer installed HDD Navigation upgrade to infotainment

Toyota Yaris Sedan PROS:

  • It’s a re-badged Mazda (2, Demio)
  • Drives like a tidier Mazda
  • Sweepy notchback profile
  • Smooth 6-speed automatic transaxle (manual available on lower trims)
  • Respectable fuel economy
  • Front seat bolstering
  • Concise analog gauge cluster
  • Standard 7.0″ LCD display w/ remote console command knob
  • Cabin materials feel more premium than entry level
  • 2 years factory maintenance costs included
  • Low new car price

Toyota Yaris Sedan CONS:

  • Chewed off a chunk of something too big
  • Could stand a power bump
  • Road noise
  • Driving assist limited to emergency automatic braking
  • No front center armrest
  • No heating for simulated leather front seats
  • Rear seat headrests must be raised for occupants, blocking outward visibility
  • No Android Auto /  Apple CarPlay
  • Limited mobile apps

2019 Toyota Yaris Sedan  = All the trappings of an uncommonly good first car

ANY COMPETITION: Hyundai Accent: +1 cabin finish, space, cargo space, infotainment, Android Auto, Apple CarPlay; Nissan Versa: +1 rear seat space, Android Auto, Apple CarPlay

 (Contributing Editor: George Straton)