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2018 Toyota Yaris Hatchback: Sporty, Convenient, Affordable

The Yaris still plugs along as Toyota’s North American entry level/sometimes sporty hatchback. It is aimed directly at recent graduates (both college and high school) or the rest of those newly out on their own. It is small, cheap to buy, cheap to run, and since it’s a Toyota, reliable as an anvil.

The 2018 Yaris hatchback will soon be here, and Toyota just announced retail prices and features for the entry level car. Let’s get the bottom line out of the way first, and then we can talk about the comfort and convenience features along with all the other techno-goodies.

Basically, the Yaris comes in three-door and five-door body styles in two grades, L and LE, and there is also the five-door SE, which is said to be more “sporty.” Manual boxes are only available on the three-door L and the five-door SE.

Affordable Ranges

Cost wise, the 2018 Toyota Yaris hatchback starts with the L grade and will run you from $15,635 for the three-door with a manual transmission, up to $16,760 for the five-door with an automatic. In the middle there’s the LE grade Yaris, starting at $17,285 for the three-door with the slush-box transmission and $17,660 for the five-door version thereof. And at the top of the range is the “sporty” (Toyota’s words, not mine) Yaris SE. The SE starts at $18,260 for the five-door with a manual transmission and rises up to $19,060 for the five-door automatic.

So the whole Yaris model range fits between a 15-and-a-half to 20k bandwidth that should ensure Toyota can sell these things as fast as they can make them. And although the Yaris is touted as “a great value for buyers on a budget” it is not a stripper devoid of things like heaters and glove boxes. The Yaris actually has pretty close to a full suite of techno and safety goodies that all buyers have come to expect these days.

Safety & Security

The 2018 Yaris features Toyota Safety Sense, which is a triple shot of driver assist gizmos including Toyota’s Pre-Collision System, Lane Departure Alert, and Automatic High Beams. Yes, to me these are all poor excuses for having your former Drill Sergeant dad yell “PAY ATTENTION!!!” at you in your formative driving years, but that’s a conversation better left between me and my team of court appointed therapists.

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Photo: Toyota Motor Sales, U.S.A., Inc.

Hipster Tech

Since Toyota barely veils that the Yaris is aimed at Millennials, and since any guy in the marketing department with a handful of brylcreem in his hair and a Pall Mall dangling from his lip can tell you the kids these days “dig” their music, the 2018 Yaris is crammed with lots of music tech.

Both the L and LE now come standard with the same Entune Audio system available on other Toyota models. For those of you not “with it” or “hip,” Entune consists of a 6.1-inch touchscreen display, CD player, MP3/WMA playback capability, an auxiliary audio jack input, and a USB 2.0 port with iPod connectivity and control. There is also advanced voice recognition, hands-free phone capability, phone book access, music streaming via Bluetooth, and Siri Eyes Free. All this gets blasted into your ears from six speakers mounted throughout the cabin.

The range topping SE model heaps on even more tubes and wires and ones and zeros and Mr. Spock tech. Naturally the SE comes standard with Entune Audio Plus with the Connected Navigation App. It’s pretty much like the Entune package in the L and LE models, but on this go-round, you get a 7.0-inch high resolution touchscreen display along with all the other alphabet soup yadda-yadda of AM/FM, MP3/WMA, USB, iPod, and all that. Added to the package for the SEs is SiriusXM Satellite Radio with three-month complimentary SiriusXM All Access Trial and Gracenote album cover art (“KEEP YOUR EYES ON THE ROAD!!!”), HD Radio, and traffic and weather updates in major metro areas, which sounds nice. All this gets pumped out through the same six speakers, however, so that might be a bit of a hitch.

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Photo: Toyota Motor Sales, U.S.A., Inc.

Interior Touches

On the inside, the 2018 Yaris receives a standard tilt, three-spoke steering wheel with audio controls, and both the L and LE models get the same sport analog instrumentation currently found in the SE. The “sporty” instrument cluster includes a speedo, tach, fuel gauge LCD display with odometer, tripmeters, clock, outside temp, current/average fuel economy, distance to empty, average speed, and shift position. There is also an ECO-driving indicator and warning messages for automatic transmission Yarises (Yari?).

Exterior Finishes

Colors? You want colors? The Yaris comes in eight exterior colors including two new shades: Blue Eclipse and two-tone Blue Eclipse with a Black Sand Pearl Roof, which sounds both attractive and fancy-schmancy all at the same time. Other colors are Super White, Classic Silver Metallic, Magnetic Gray Metallic, Black Sand Pearl, Ruby Flare Pearl, and the two-tone Ruby Flare Pearl with Black Sand Pearl Roof. On the inside buyers get fabric choices of combined black and gray on L and LE models, and all-black on the SE.

Did you know the Yaris is designed and assembled in France? I didn’t, but it does explain why it sort of looks like a cross between some weird little French heap and a 300 horsepower rally car. The 2018 Yaris will be in Toyota dealerships this summer.

Tony Borroz has spent his entire life racing antique and sports cars. He means well, even if he has a bias towards lighter, agile cars rather than big engine muscle cars or family sedans.

Photos & Source: Photo: Toyota Motor Sales, U.S.A., Inc.