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
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 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 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 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 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 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’s still pretty safe.
Thanks to its decent range of equipment, the 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.
Read the interior, practicality, driving and specifications sections of our review over the following pages for a more in-depth look at this fairly frugal family car. Or, if you just want to see how much you can save, click through to our Deals page.