Written by James Hamel
First time new car buyers, are you looking for something that comes fully loaded, is as cheap as a used car or that can carry a lot of your stuff? Well look no further than our final three choices.
2017 Toyota Yaris iA
Best Car that comes with Everything and Everyone can still afford it
If you are out there looking to buy your first new car then we could see how you might miss this little four door sedan as its unassuming appearance from a brand which only makes cars that are generally unassuming might make you think it was just a smaller Corolla. Or just a sedan version of the 2017 Toyota Yaris hatchback which this car is in no way related to, in fact it isn’t really a Toyota. Heck it wasn’t even a Scion in years past when that now dead Toyota sub-brand was the carrier of this subcompact car’s mighty secret. It’s a Mazda.
In other parts of the world this car might be known as the Mazda2 or perhaps even the Mazda Demio but Toyota somehow convinced Mazda to let it sell this nicely equipped, addictively fun to drive and practical subcompact sedan first as the Scion iA and now as the 2017 Toyota Yaris iA. It comes with a joyfully rev-happy 1.5 liter 4-cylinder good for just 106-horsepower that is by some miracle still available with a six-speed manual at no extra-cost with the only option available with this model being the five-speed automatic which tends to ruin the ability of Toyota to deliver out the door price of $16,835 with delivery and fees (you can’t find a car this efficient and fun to drive at this price anywhere else new in 2017. Period.
All 2017 Toyota Yaris iA sedan models come equipped with air conditioning, power windows, locks and mirrors, handsome alloy wheels, halogen headlamps, a tilt/telescoping steering wheel l with audio controls and cruise, back-up camera, push button start, a 7-inch center touchscreen, Bluetooth, 2 USB ports, an AM/FM/Sirius/HD/Aux 6-speaker audio system that is impressively capable and room for up to five with a decent sized 13.5 cubic foot trunk. And the best part is how complete this supremely affordable sedan feels from behind the driver’s seat. Nothing to impart that this isn’t a Toyota product, build quality wise, ever makes itself evident.
So, if you have a seriously limited budget but demand fun to drive satisfaction or maybe wanted a solid ride to master your skills with a manual transmission? Well, right now there is no better choice in the bang for the buck sweepstakes that the 2017 Toyota Yaris iA. Remember cars like this, soon this breed of affordable transport will vanish once and for all.
2017 Mazda CX-3
Best Small SUV if you don’t have a ton of stuff
We, like a quickly growing number of car buyers, are mad about Mazdas. From the sporty 3 to the svelte 6 sedan all the way to the new CX-9 there really isn’t a duffer in the bunch. Now, to say that calling the 2017 Mazda CX-3 an “average” subcompact SUV isn’t damning it with faint praise simply because it is a Mazda. It just might not be our favorite Mazda vehicle as given its rather elevated price tag we would opt instead for the larger CX-5.
Our top of the line CX-3 Grand Touring AWD came with the essential for safety lovers I-Activesense package for an additional $1,170 which brings with it lane departure warning, radar cruise control, a smart auto braking system with front collision warning, high beam control as well as a low speed auto braking system. All told our CX-3 stickered for just over $28,000 which given its rather paltry 12.4 cubic feet of cargo space we tend to wonder why not buy a CX-5 or even a 3 hatchback which offers 20.2 cubic feet of cargo carrying ability.
So why should you even consider the 2017 Mazda CX-3? The quality and fit and finish of the interior is exemplary, the exterior styling is aggressive yet still cute plus the steering and handling, always a Mazda strong suit, are well engineered
While we think all of Mazda’s latest models are attractive to look at, we just think that when you look at the CX-3 parked next to its recently updated CX-5 and CX-9 siblings that it becomes obvious that the elegant character lines of the CX-9 were lost when the CX-3 got hit with Mazda’s shrinking ray. We know it’s more grown up but we’d opt for the CX-5 instead.
2017 Toyota Corolla iM
Best Car to Replace Your Old Corolla
Much like the 2017 Toyota Yaris iA you read about earlier, the 2017 Toyota Corolla iM is also a fancied-up ex-Scion model now being sold by Toyota to help strengthen their small car street cred. But don’t be mistaken, the 2017 Toyota Corolla iM may look oddly European what with its five-door hatchback utility and style because this affordable little compact is a Toyota through and through. In fact, it’s just a Corolla hatch with a bit of a European accent. We appreciate this the 2017 Toyota Corolla iM is affordable and always supremely well-equipped all while managing to increase the appeal of this sometimes rather dull nameplate.
Toyota has been building Corolla’s for so long that it would be easy for a middle-aged person to only have ever driven this Japanese automotive reliability icon. We appreciate the Corolla iM injects some much-needed style as well as ready availability of a sub-$20,000 variant with a 6-speed manual transmission, sporty 17-inch alloys and a level of steering feel that might be alien to drivers of a CVT-equipped Corolla sedan.
The 2017 Toyota iM gets the Corolla version of sport front bucket seats as well as very upscale (when compared to a regular Corolla) Piano black dashboard trim inserts with tasteful Chrome accents. The 2017 Toyota Corolla iM may not have the interior room and cleverness of some rivals but it’s comfortable enough for four adults with a 20.8 cubic foot cargo hold. The fuel tank is 14 gallons but the frugal 1.8 liter 137 horsepower 4-cylinder should allow even the heaviest led-foot to see mid-30 mpg averages.
So, what all do you get with this fancier, sexier version of the car that to many is nothing more exciting than a toaster guaranteed to work for 25 years? Well the Toyota Scion iM also gives buyers dual zone climate control, the option of a $900 touch screen A-ha powered navigation system, a center dash-mounted 7-inch color touchscreen which serves as access point for the standard and serviceable 6-speaker AM/FM/Aux/USB audio system, Bluetooth, lane-departure warning alert, automatic halogen high beams as well as a TSS Pre-Collision system meant to automatically slow the car as much as possible when an impact is predicted.
We’ll be honest here with you though. Nothing about the 2017 Toyota Corolla iM makes us want to sell our souls, mothers or puppy dogs just to own one. In fact, at about 45 miles per hour the 1.8 liter engine if left too long at higher revs will start to drone on and one much like a washing machine, an issue only known to us now thanks to the fact that we often give our opinionated mothers ride in test vehicles from time to time. As well as puppies, dogs, cats and no doubt a soul or two. So next time Toyota, try giving all of your Corolla models a bit more Soul?