2016 has been a year of death and disappointment: David Bowie, Carrie Fisher, Debbie Reynolds, Gene Wilder, Patty Duke, Florence Henderson, Zsa Zsa, Chyna. Please, make it stop.
We’ve seen tragedy in the auto world, too. Back in February, Toyota killed off Scion, the cool, hipster, hep-cat brand that was meant to draw-in the Millennials who didn’t want to be seen driving their parent’s Toyota cars – which at one point were also seen as so groovy that everyone knew it was not your father’s Oldsmobile. Yet just because you drop your name from your first marriage, that doesn’t mean you can’t rebrand yourself, especially if you are still youngish and hot.
Introducing the 2017 Toyota Yaris iA, which used to be known as the Scion iA until that marriage was dissolved by corporate. Scions were always cool little cars, and I do mean little, especially if you are trying to get into the backseat. Scions had spunk, they had pizzazz, they had all the cool of Bruno Mars, Laverne Cox and Bernie Sanders combined. Rebranded as Toyotas, the cool is still there but now with maybe a bit of Hillary Clinton practicality. (The new Yaris iA is the old Scion iA, which is a four-door small sedan, while the regular Yaris we’ve come to know and love is a hatchback.)
If you are into simplicity, this is your small car. There is only one trim level, meaning there is only one Yaris iA, and you can have it with a manual or automatic transmission. The manual starts at $16K and the automatic starts at $17K (Get the automatic).
For the price, this car really is loaded. You get the impressive low-speed forward collision warning system with automatic braking, which means that the life you save clearly will be your own. Full power accessories are part of the package, and that is a big deal, since at this price level, you barely get an automatic transmission, much less power doors or windows. Keyless entry and ignition are also standard; again, something that you rarely see in a car until you start paying $20K or more. You also get that invaluable rearview backup camera, and believe you me, that is a wallet-saver. You can get optional navigation, but if you have a cell phone (who doesn’t), you can connect the navigation / route guidance through the iA’s Bluetooth or USB interface. Hey, gotta save those coins, girl.
Combined mileage is 34 mpg (for the manual transmission, anyway), which is great for the class, so that will add even more dinero to your pocketbook so it can go directly to the $75-per-month that you pay for parking at the cramped apartment (condo) building where you currently live. This great mileage is made possible by a 1.5-liter 4-cylinder engine which coughs up 106 horses, and while that may not sound like much, it is very peppy and responsive, at least when I stayed within the speed limit.
As if that weren’t enough for a car that is cheaper than your first year at a high-tech beauty school, the interior is very, very nice. There is luxury to be had as you climb into an all-black bed of comfort and joy. There was plenty of room in the truck for packages and theatrical equipment. All around, this is a great fun little car, but watch your head in the backseats. If you have friends with largess like me, this car could effectively be just a two-seater.
Just so you know, even with a good interest rate, a car loan of around $15,000 can easily run you more than $250 a month. That’s just how it is these days, but I am all in favor of getting a new car if you can afford it. With used cars, you just don’t know how soon after purchase you will need to make your first major repair. And then, after a while, you will ultimately have to junk it and start over again.
Should this sound like your love life, then indeed, caution is advised. Stick to the Yaris iA.