Toyota Yaris Review
The Toyota Yaris is a roomy, cheap-to-run family car but it isn’t as well built as a VW Polo or as comfortable as a Vauxhall Corsa
This score is awarded by our team of expert reviewers after extensive testing of the car
- Frugal hybrid option
- Roomy interior
What's not so good
- Noisy on the move
- Feels cheap inside
- Far from exciting to drive
Toyota Yaris: what would you like to read next?
The Toyota Yaris is a small family car that’s cheap to buy and comes with lots of standard equipment. It isn’t as fun to drive as a Ford Fiesta or as roomy as a Skoda Fabia but it’s a good all-rounder. It’s even available as a frugal hybrid model – unusual for this size of car.
The current Toyota Yaris was introduced in 2011 and updated in 2016 with sportier styling on the outside and more high-tech features on the inside. Toyota also added a new 1.5-litre petrol engine to the lineup and introduced some updated safety features.
The cabin looks best in mid-range Bi-Tone guise thanks to some colourful trims that disguise its cheaper plastics. Everything’s fairly easy to use and there’s a colourful seven-inch touchscreen infotainment system on Icon models and above. The cabin doesn’t look quite as smart as a Corsa and lags well behind the VW Polo in terms of build quality.
Thankfully it does comfort better than style. There’s enough seat adjustment to get comfy, even if you’re over six-foot tall, but there’s no lumbar support to ease backache on long journeys. There’s a reasonable amount of head and legroom in the back, but carrying three adults abreast at once is a squeeze.
You won’t be able to fit quite as much luggage in the Toyota Yaris’ 286-litre boot as you can in a 330-litre Skoda Fabia but it’s just about big enough to carry a baby stroller. Fold the seats down in a 60:40 split and its 768-litre capacity is noticeably smaller than the 952-litre VW Polo and 1,090-litre Vauxhall Corsa.
Don’t expect to be blown away by the Toyota Yaris, but it does everything you need of a small hatchback
You can get the Toyota Yaris with two petrol engines and as a hybrid. The 1.0-litre petrol model is a little sluggish but returns around 55mpg while the more powerful 1.5-litre – that’ll manage around 50mpg – is more at home if you do lots of motorway miles. You can get 1.5-litre models with a £1,000 automatic gearbox to help make long journeys and traffic jams as stress-free as possible. Unfortunately, it causes the engine to drone when you accelerate and is best avoided.
The Toyota Yaris hybrid is the most relaxing to drive around town thanks to its near-silent electric motor. It’s the cheapest model to run and it’s exempt from the London Congestion Charge, but it’s quite expensive to buy. The Toyota Yaris won’t be as comfortable on potholed city roads as a Vauxhall Corsa, but the Toyota’s big windows make it easy to thread through tight city streets.
Euro NCAP awarded the Yaris a five-star safety rating in 2011. The tests have been made significantly stricter since then but a range of new safety equipment, including automatic emergency city braking, helps make sure this little Toyota Yaris is still pretty safe.
Thanks to its decent range of equipment, the Toyota Yaris is a good, affordable runaround with enough space for a small family. Very few cars this size are available with a hybrid system, so the Yaris could be well worth considering if keeping running costs low is your priority or you commute into London’s Congestion Charge.
Everything in the Toyota Yaris’ cabin is easy to use but it can’t match the likes of the VW Polo for build quality
It isn’t particularly easy to pack the Toyota Yaris’ boot with bulky luggage but at least you can flip the back seats down in a two-way split as standard to carry a bike and a passenger at once
The driver’s seat doesn’t comes with a spring-loaded lever that lets you leap bolt-upright to fully reclined at a moment’s notice. Handy in an impromptu police stake out I suppose…
There’s enough seat and steering wheel adjustment to get reasonably comfortable in the Toyota Yaris, even if you’re quite tall. If you’ve got very long legs, however, you may find your knees knock against some hard plastics under the steering wheel when you climb in and out.
There’s loads of headroom in the front and the seats themselves are nicely padded and fairly supportive for such a small car. Lumbar support isn’t available on any Yaris, however, and the lever-style seat reclining mechanism can make it tricky to find your ideal seating position.
Every Toyota Yaris comes with four doors as standard so jumping in the back seats is fairly easy. Your taller friends may struggle with head and legroom, however, but there’s ample space for three kids to get comfortable.
There isn’t an annoying lump in the rear floor to get in the way so your passenger in the middle seat won’t struggle for foot space. The large rear windows let in loads of light, too, so the back seats don’t feel particularly claustrophobic.
The back doors open fairly wide and their large, square shape makes leaning in to fit a child seat pretty painless. Unfortunately, the Isofix anchor points are hidden under the seat padding which can make fitting the seat base fiddly.
The front door pockets in the Toyota Yaris are large enough to hold a one-litre bottle and the two cupholders in the centre console are each big enough for a thermos flask. The glovebox is pretty roomy, too.
There are two wide, shallow trays under the dashboard on the passenger’s side. They’re easy to reach but only really deep enough to hold a handful of loose change or a set of keys.
You won’t be able to hide away many bits and bobs in the back, either. Your passengers will have to share one cupholder between them and the door bins are much smaller than those in the front.
You can fit 286 litres of luggage in the Toyota Yaris’ boot with five seats and the parcel shelf in place. That’s less than in the roomy Skoda Fabia and SEAT Ibiza but slightly more spacious than the Vauxhall Corsa.
It’s big enough for two small suitcases but fitting a baby stroller is a tight squeeze. There’s a tall boot lip to lift luggage over, too, so loading heavy boxes is difficult – this isn’t particularly uncommon in such small cars, however.
All models come with 60:40 split rear seats as standard, but once you’ve folded them down there’s a large step in the boot floor that’ll make sliding in bulky items quite tricky. Its 768-litre capacity lags some way behind the 1,150-litre Fabia, but there’s just enough space to carry a bike with both its wheels attached.
There’s no adjustable boot floor option but the Toyota Yaris does have some hooks to hold your shopping bags in place. There’s a little underfloor storage but nowhere handy to stow the parcel shelf once you’ve removed it.
The Toyota Yaris is easy to see out of and a breeze to park but it’s quite noisy at speed and isn’t particularly comfortable
The Toyota Yaris is about as exciting to drive as it is to look at – that is to say not very. Thankfully, it’s perfectly happy nipping through heavy city traffic
You can get the Toyota Yaris with either a petrol engine or a hybrid system. It’s also available with either a manual or a CVT automatic gearbox.
The entry-level 1.0-litre petrol is only worth considering if you spend most of your time pootling around town. It’ll return around 55mpg and is significantly cheaper to buy than the Toyota Yaris Hybrid. Its modest 69hp means it’ll struggle to keep up with fast moving traffic, however, and it drones rather loudly if you accelerate hard.
The bigger 1.5-litre petrol engine is a better bet if you regularly travel long distances. It’s not quite as perky as the likes of a 1.0-litre Ford Fiesta but it’ll zip you along at motorway speeds without too much fuss and it’ll return around 50mpg.
The Toyota Yaris Hybrid model uses a slightly less powerful version of the 1.5-litre petrol engine that’s assisted by a compact electric motor and a CVT automatic gearbox. This combination helps it return around 70mpg and produce so little carbon dioxide that you can drive it into London without paying the congestion charge.
Toyota also offers an automatic gearbox on standard 1.5-litre models to help take some of the stress out of long journeys and rush hour traffic. However, not only is it pretty noisy when you accelerate but it’ll set you back £1,000 more than a manual model.
The Toyota Yaris gives you a good view forward and backwards and it doesn’t have any particularly awkward blind spots. This, combined with its light steering, helps make it a breeze to drive around town.
It’s manoeuvrable enough to slip into tight parking spaces with ease, but for a little extra reassurance, you get a reversing camera on all but entry-level Active models. Rear parking sensors come as standard on top-spec Excel versions, too.
The Toyota Yaris takes most small bumps in its stride but large potholes can send an unpleasant jolt through the cabin – especially if you pick a model with the larger 16-inch alloy wheels. Its rather soft suspension means it leans quite a lot in tight corners, too – not ideal if your passengers have a tendency to feel car sick.
There’s a lot more wind and tyre noise than you’ll hear in the likes of the Polo, Fabia or Corsa and the Toyota Yaris’ smaller petrol engine vibrates and buzzes rather annoyingly on the motorway.
Pick a hybrid model and you can cruise around at slow speeds using just its electric motor. This makes it much more relaxing to potter around town in than its petrol-powered siblings.
The Yaris received a five-star safety rating from Euro NCAP when it was tested in 2011. These tests have been made much stricter since then, however, so newer cars – such as the five-star Nissan Micra – will offer more protection in a crash.
Since it was updated in 2016, all new Yaris models come with lane departure warning – to help stop you leaving your lane on the motorway – and automatic emergency braking as standard. All but entry-level Active cars feature cruise control and road sign recognition, too.