The rumour is that as dominant as Walmart is on the big-box retail front (which pretty much makes it dominant on the retail front in general), it knows as well as anyone that there’s always someone out there doing something better. Not on the whole; but in parts. A better Hot Wheels display, for example. Or more-organized clothing racks, better fitting rooms and so on.

So what does Walmart do? Well, it abides by the “if you can’t beat ‘em, join ‘em” adage and it finds a retailer that’s doing something better, and copies it for its stores.

It seems that this logic was not lost on Toyota when it came time to re-designing this particular example of a Small Car for a Big Guy; except, unlike Walmart, they didn’t really do it piecemeal. They went whole hog and pretty much took what w  ould have been the latest-gen Mazda2, slapped some Toyota badges on it, and had the new Yaris Sedan. The hatchback remains (and looks) an entirely different animal, which stands to reason as it hails from France as opposed to Mexico like the car you see here.

Indeed, looking at the two cars, I challenge you to find any familial similarities at all; the sedan seems to suffer what many Mazdas did a few years ago, that is to say a front fascia that looks like the vehicular equivalent of Mr. Sardonicus. Other Mazdas have mostly recovered from this, but it seems those that designed the “Toyota2” didn’t get the memo. The rest is OK, if nothing special, but that front end needs a once over, that’s for sure.

The Knee Test

Bit of a mixed bag, this one.

On one hand, it took me a few tries before I finally remembered to watch myself as I stepped into the car, as I must’ve smacked my knee the first five times I stepped into the thing, as the centre console flares out at the base of the centre stack, leaving my poor knee wide open for a thrashing.

However; once I was actually sat in the car, I found the leg room to be just fine, as the centre console tapers towards the floor, allowing more room for splayed knees.

The lack of a big storage bin in the centre console means that it’s a little narrower, allowing room for more “generous” hips and a somewhat airier cockpit. That, combined with the well-padded seats make for a comfortable seating position…for the most part. I did find my left shoulder to be firmly pressed up against the B-pillar when driving, and my right shoulder when sat in the passenger seat.

Headroom, however, is the opposite. Thanks to the rounded roofline, the Yaris doesn’t look like that tall of a car; once inside, however, headroom is ample to the point it makes Toyota’s claimed 970 mm of front headroom seem a little conservative. I couldn’t believe how much room I had when I looked up; you can thank the height-adjustable driver’s seat for the phenomenon. It also makes for easier entrance and egress – while I bumped my knee a few times, my skull never had the same problem. The rear seat figures, on the other hand, seem right on point; Toyota rates it at 934 mm and when I sat back there, well, let’s just say that my hairdo once I got out left very little to the imagination.

Another look: 2016 Toyota Yaris Sedan Test Drive

Rear legroom is rated at 874 mm which is pretty snug, but more than what you get in either the Kia Rio sedan or its cousin, the Hyundai Accent sedan. When sat behind a driver seat set to my 6’3″ frame, I still had to be mighty careful when closing the door, lest I cause more damage to my beleaguered knees. There’s no rear armrest, which I guess could be an issue for some. I’d rather have the extra room for hips on the rare occasion I’d be shuttling four adults ’round, though, and a proper bench seat with no encumbrances allows for that.

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