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Used Toyota Yaris (2020-present) buying guide

August 18, 2022 by

If you’re looking for a small car, the Toyota Yaris is a reliable and efficient option. Here’s everything you need to know before buying one.

The Toyota Yaris is no longer the bland and unexciting car it once was, now sporting an attention-grabbing exterior design to go with an enjoyable driving experience and low running costs.

There’s stiff competition for the Yaris, with Ford’s Fiesta, Peugeot’s 208 and Volkswagen’s Polo all excellent alternatives. But the Toyota has a unique selling point, being the only one to offer a hybrid engine – though the e-208, launched in 2019, is a fully electric option.

Toyota Yaris: Pros and cons

What’s good
Hybrid engine is very efficient
Fun to drive
Great equipment as standard

What’s not so good?
Noisy under acceleration
Uncomfortable ride on bigger wheels
Boot space is disappointing

Click any of the links below to jump to the relevant section.

Is a used Toyota Yaris a good car?
What body styles are available?
What are the engine options?
What trim levels are available?
How practical is it?
What’s it like to drive?
What to look out for
Toyota Yaris recalls
Safety and security
What else should I consider?

Is a used Toyota Yaris a good car?

If you’re looking for a small car that comes with low running costs and excellent reliability, the Toyota Yaris should be one of the first cars on your shortlist.

The Japanese company has an excellent reliability record, so there’s little chance of any major issues. And if there is, the Yaris has a five-year/10,000-mile warranty that will still be in play. Cars sold from 1st June 2021 come with a three-year/60,000-mile warranty, which can be extended by a year at each annual service, up to 10 years/100,000 miles, which shows the confidence Toyota has in its reliability.

In the past, the Yaris has been known for being a reliable if uninspiring companion. However, if you’re looking for this more characterful, hybrid-only generation, you’ll want one built from 2020 onwards.

What body styles are available?

The Yaris is only available as a five-door hatchback. If you want a three-door you will have to opt for the more powerful and low volume GR Yaris.

What are the engine options?

The only Toyota Yaris engine is a hybrid that uses a 1.5-litre petrol engine coupled with an electric motor. The combination makes 116hp and 120Nm of torque, with up to 68.8mpg recorded on official fuel economy figures, making it one of the most efficient small cars on sale in the UK. CO2 emissions are measured at 92-112g/km.

When driving around town it’s entirely possible to see more than 60mpg, with much of the journey undertaken on electric power. You can force the car into EV mode if you want, and can travel on electricity up to 80mph, but it tends to be better to leave the car to sort itself out.

The EV mode button is best ignored, though, as many owners have noted that it has little effect on whether the car can be forced to stick to electric propulsion. This is little cause for concern, though, as the car will spend a lot of time driving on electric if left to its own devices anyway, as the impressive fuel economy figures might suggest.

There’s no manual gearbox, so you’re stuck with the CVT automatic. This works fine around town and helps with economy, but it contributes to noisy acceleration at higher speeds.

What trim levels are available?

The entry level trim is called Icon, and while the 16-inch alloy wheels are a touch on the small side, it’s actually very well-equipped. For example, as standard you get intelligent adaptive cruise control, which not only keeps you a safe distance from the car in front, it also keeps you in your lane.

Other kit on Icon cars includes pre-collision safety systems and a 7.0-inch infotainment system. You can’t get built-in sat nav on any grade, but Apple CarPlay and Android Auto come as standard, so you can use the guidance on your phone.

Step up to the Design trim and you still don’t get larger alloy wheels, but the infotainment screen is upped to 8.0 inches. There are also powered rear windows and privacy glass.

The high-specification Excel models get the coveted 17-inch alloy wheels that really improve the Yaris’s style – though slightly reduce comfort levels – as well as a 9.0-inch infotainment screen, rear parking sensors and smart entry with push-button start.

Newer models have a GR Sport option at the top of the range, which is inspired by the GR Yaris hot hatch. It has 18-inch alloy wheels, sport suspension and sport front seats.

How practical is it?

If boot space is important, look away now. The Yaris’s boot is measured at just 286 litres, which makes it one of the worst in its class. To be fair, though, Toyota has made it a decent shape, which means you can fit more in there than you might expect.

If you need more space, the rear seats fold flat, which is easy to do, with a 60/40 split. All models come with a false floor to create a smooth loading surface, making it a bit more capable if required.

Despite being a small car, there are a decent number of storage areas around the cabin, mostly for front seat passengers. There are a few places to put your phone, wide door bins that will take a large bottle and a decent-sized glove box.

What’s it like to drive?

As an urban car, the little Toyota performs well. Its hybrid motor makes it nippy in traffic and while the CVT gearbox might not be great at higher speeds, contributing to an annoying drone under acceleration, it’s smooth and quiet around town.

The suspension soaks up bumps well and the Yaris has a small turning circle, making tight manoeuvres a breeze. Opt for the GR Sport model, though, and the bigger wheels and sports suspension will make it less comfortable.

Once out on the motorway it’s less refined than alternatives such as the Volkswagen Polo and Seat Ibiza. It’s not unbearable, but if you’re going to spend a lot of time on motorways and dual carriageways, the Yaris might not be your best bet.

On a flowing country road the Toyota doesn’t give you as much confidence in a corner as a Ford Fiesta, but there is more grip than you might expect. It’s clearly tuned towards comfortable city driving, though.

What to look out for

Having only been on sale for a couple of years, there are no glaring issues with the latest generation Yaris. Toyota also has a solid reliability record, while the five-year warranty should offer extra peace of mind.

Being a city car, you should take extra care checking for scrapes and bumps, particularly around alloy wheels where tyres might have become damaged.

Some owners have complained about the seats being uncomfortable on longer journeys, so be sure to test drive if this is a concern and pay close attention to how you feel afterwards.

Toyota Yaris recalls

Recalls happen regularly in the car industry as the result of a manufacturer or the Driver and Vehicle Standards Agency (DVSA) finding an issue with a vehicle.

These are mostly preventative, and can be related to issues as wide-ranging as intermittent electrical faults to potential failures in major components.

You can read more about what recalls are in this handy guide, or continue below to see what recalls have been issued for the Toyota Yaris…

The first recall is for Yaris models built between 16th July 2020 and 26th March 2021. It relates to the emergency calling system (eCall) potentially not working when required. The recall affected over 26,000 Toyotas, though this includes various other models from the firm too.

The second recall is because the initialisation of the radar sensor might not have been completed correctly. The issue affected Yaris models built between 6th July 2020 and 21st June 2021, as well as GR Yaris models built between 24th June 2020 and 2nd August 2021. There were more than 42,000 affected Toyotas, but this also includes the C-HR SUV model.

To check whether your vehicle is included in a recall you can contact your local Toyota dealer.

Safety and security

The Toyota Yaris Hybrid received the full five stars in Euro NCAP safety testing. It scored particularly well for child and adult occupant, rated at more than 80% for both.

The impressive equipment list extends to safety kit too, getting pre-collision assist, emergency steering assist and driver attention alert. A reversing camera is included as standard too, as well as an emergency call system.

What else should I consider?

There are plenty of excellent rivals that should be high on your small car shopping list. The Ford Fiesta is the undisputed king of this segment, offering a great driving experience, practicality and excellent value for money.

The Volkswagen Polo and Seat Ibiza offer a more refined driving experience for those who spend a lot of time at motorway speeds, but in the city the Yaris’s hybrid engine makes it mighty appealing thanks to low running costs.

If you’re interested in buying a used Toyota Yaris, you can find the latest stock from a network of trusted dealers. You can also sell your old car though carwow, and it’s quick and easy.