AUTOS

Toyota gives tiny Yaris new attitude for 2015

Toyota gives tiny Yaris new attitude for 2015

Toyota’s tiniest car, the subcompact Yaris hatchback, is getting an attitude for 2015.

The automaker announced Wednesday that it had redesigned the car’s exterior for the upcoming model year to add more “European flavor” to what had been a boring, middle-of-the-pack offering. It also tweaked the interior and added new options.

The update to the Yaris is just the latest move by Toyota to inject more style into products that are often criticized for being ho-hum. Notably, the automaker will soon put on sale a heavily refreshed version of the current-generation Camry. The changes to Toyota’s midsize sedan go well beyond what most automakers bring to their mid-life updates.

Like the larger Camry, the petite 2015 Yaris will have a more aggressive face and a sportier overall look. Toyota also beefed up the structure of the car for better handling, and added extra sound deadening, the automaker said.

The subcompact size of the car and it two- or four-door configurations remain the same. (The Yaris is the smallest car the Toyota brand makes, though its youth-oriented sub-brand Scion builds the dishwasher-sized iQ microcar.)

The drivetrain also carries over. A 1.5-liter, four-cylinder engine makes 106 horsepower and 103 pound-feet of torque. A five-speed manual transmission will be standard, while an outdated four-speed automatic will be an $800 option.

Inside, the cabin has been refreshed with less of the hard, cheap plastics that are common on this level of car. A new 6.1-inch touchscreen audio system is now included on all models, and a navigation system will be optional for the first time. Nine airbags remain standard.

When the 2015 Yaris goes on sale later this summer, it will continue to target competitors like the Honda Fit, Nissan Versa, Mazda 2, Chevy Sonic and Ford Fiesta. Toyota hopes the updates will make the car more competitive, as its 21,300 sales in 2013 lagged far behind everyone but Mazda.

Pricing on the new Yaris remains nearly the same as the 2014 models. The car will start at $15,670 for the base three-door with a manual transmission, and will top out at $18,445 for the five-door SE with the automatic.

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