The Toyota Yaris is Right for Any Budget

Toyota Yaris profile
The Toyota Yaris as presented by Mazda.

The Toyota Yaris brings new car affordability to the masses. With a price point that starts below $17,000 or about half the cost of the average new car purchased today. For the Yaris, Toyota turned to its partner Mazda to produce this model, which comes in four-door sedan or hatchback body styles.

Now in its fourth year, the current-generation Yaris adds Apple CarPlay and Android Autos smartphone compatibility for 2020. The price range for the sedan is $15,560 to $18,750 (L, LE, and XLE trims), while the hatchback costs between $17,750 to $18,750 (LE and XLE trims). Further, add $945 for the freight charge. Notably, this review focuses on the hatchback, our evaluated model.

Mazda Inspiration

In other markets, this Toyota Yaris is sold as the Mazda 2. Toyota owns a stake in Mazda and has leveraged that relationship to produce the current Yaris. Although there are Toyota design elements present, including with its thin upper grille, the Mazda tapestry is evident with its gaping maw. From bumper to bumper, the Yaris showcases Mazda’s “soul of motion” design scheme featuring curving lines, rounded edges, and pulled-in corners. The look brings in character, even sportiness to this model.

Inside, the cabin is spartan, but there are a few design elements of interest. The beveled dashboard is split by a long chrome-like bar that connects a pair of circular vents. The instrument panel’s hood cover is similar to what’s found in sporty models and is dominated by a circular speedometer readout.

Toyota Yaris seats

Sitting on top of the dashboard and above the center console is the display screen. Toyota kept the Mazda design, which is knob controlled. In-door pockets and a small compartment between the front seats comprise the interior storage compartments.

The front seats offer fair support, although an additional inch or two of thigh support would help. The back seat is tight, but suitable for two youngsters. What gives the hatchback an edge over the sedan is the utility – it has 15.9 cubic feet of cargo space compared to 13.5 cubic feet for the sedan. Fold down the rear seat and the hatchback’s utility space nearly doubles. Just imagine the possibilities for holding your yard sale finds or returning your son or daughter to college with a packed hatch.

Tech & Safety

If there is one demerit of note, it’s the lack of driver-assist technologies common to other Toyota models. These features include lane-keep assist and adaptive cruise control. However, all Yaris trims do come equipped with low-speed forward collision warning, and forward automatic emergency braking. You’ll also have a full suite of airbags and the requisite rear-view camera.

Toyota Yaris dashboard

Apple CarPlay and Android Auto smartphone compatibility are now standard, with both supplying navigation at no extra charge. All models come with a six-speaker audio package, a seven-inch touch-screen display, satellite radio, HD Radio, Bluetooth, and two USB ports. There are no other upgrades available; you’ll need to consider the slightly costlier Toyota Corolla for more options.

Toyota Yaris Economics

All Yaris models come with a 1.5-liter four-cylinder engine producing 106 horsepower and 103 pound-feet of torque. The base sedan works with a six-speed manual transmission, while all other models including both hatchback trims utilize a six-speed automatic transmission. Power travels to the front wheels.

Straight out of the gate, the Yaris shows that it is designed for efficiency, not performance. Slow step-off acceleration and weak passing power aside, the tiny model’s strong suits include its tight turning radius and nimble handling. Its ride is bumpy at times, which is not surprising given its size. What’s the consolation here? Try 40 mpg on the highway, an achievable number for most drivers.

Toyota Yaris rear

Budget Car Musings

The Toyota Yaris is a budget-friendly model with excellent fuel economy on tap. The top XLE trim is our choice as it delivers a full complement of creature comforts, including LED lights, heated side mirrors, and automatic climate control for under $20,000.

2020 Toyota Yaris Specifications

Toyota 2020 Yaris
Segment Subcompact Car
Price Range $15,650 to $18,750
Destination Charge $995
Drivetrain Front engine, front-wheel drive
Engine 1.5-liter, I-4
Horsepower 106 @ 6,000 rpm
Torque (lb.-ft.) 103 @ 4,000 rpm
Bore x Stroke (inches) 2.93 x 3.38
Compression Ratio 12.0:1
Transmission 6-speed manual or 6-speed automatic
Seating 5
Wheelbase (inches) 101.2
Length (inches) 171.9
Width (inches) 66.7
Height (inches) 58.9
Headroom (f,r…inches) 38.2, 36.8
Legroom (f,r…inches) 41.9, 34.4
Shoulder room (f,r…inches) 53.2, 50.0
Hip room (f,r…inches) N/A
Pax Volume (cu. ft.) 85.9
Cargo Storage (cu. ft.) 13.49
Curb Weight (pounds) 2,385 to 2,504
Gross vehicle weight (pounds) N/A
Towing (pounds) N/A
Payload (pounds) N/A
Fuel Type Regular
Fuel Tank (gallons) 11.6
EPA Fuel MPG (city/highway/combined) 30/39/34 to 32/40/35
Manufacturing Plant Valenciennes, France

Specifications supplied by the manufacturer. Statistics assembled by Tom Keegan.

See AlsoMazda Puts the “Hot” in its Mazda3 Hatchback

Photos copyright Stumpwater Media Group, LLC. All rights reserved.

Matt Keegan
Author: Matthew Keegan
Matt Keegan is a journalist, media professional, and owner of this website. He has an extensive writing background and has covered the automotive sector continuously since 2004. When not driving and evaluating new vehicles, Matt enjoys spending his time outdoors.

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