Toyota Yaris (2015-2020) Review & Prices
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
What's not so good
Find out more about the Toyota Yaris (2015-2020)
The Toyota Yaris is a small family car that’s cheap on the used market and comes with a decent amount 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 third generation Yaris was introduced in 2011 and updated in 2014 and 2017, with styling tweaks 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.
There’s a lot of choice in the small car segment and some big-selling cars, such as the Ford Fiesta and Volkswagen Polo will certainly have caught your eye by now. The Yaris stands out from the crowd thanks to its funky looks and its hybrid engine choice.
Its styling is about where the fun ends though, as the Yaris is far from an exhilarating driving experience, while the interior isn’t exactly a hallmark of style or sophistication. Entry-level models have to make do with a seemingly endless sea of cheap plastic trims but equipment and materials improve as you go up the range.
Opt for the hybrid engine and the Toyota Yaris should be cheaper to run than any of its competitors.
That’s not to say it’s not worthy of consideration. That hybrid engine is generally quiet and refined – though can be irritatingly noisy under acceleration – while running costs will be lower than you’ll find in alternatives. The downside is that these models are popular, meaning they can be a bit pricier than other options in the range.
It’s not just fuel frugality that appeals, either. Sure, the Yaris doesn’t particularly excel in many areas, but there’s a reasonable amount of space for passengers, good adjustability for the driving seat, and a boot that will comfortably swallow the weekly shop. It’s well-equipped, too.
Another tick in the Yaris pros column is the fact that it was one of the safest cars of its type when it went on sale. Couple this with Toyota’s fantastic reliability record and it’s easy to see how the Yaris makes a compelling case for itself – even if it is with the head, rather than the heart.
Two petrol engines were offered at launch in 2011, with 1.0-litre and 1.3-litre capacities making 68hp and 98hp respectively. The former is okay for city driving but it’s pretty gutless under acceleration, so the larger engine is the better of the two.
If you’re travelling longer distances the 89hp 1.4-litre diesel is an option, but it doesn’t really suit the Yaris’s character as an inner-city car. All engines came with a manual transmission.
Your best bet, budget allowing, is to go for a hybrid. Introduced in summer 2012, it has very low CO2 emissions, so there’s no road tax to pay for models registered before April 2017, when road tax rules changed. These engines are generally the most refined and will be quiet in traffic, also offering the best fuel economy, but they can be intrusively noisy under acceleration.
Some updates in 2014 saw the 1.0-litre petrol overhauled so it emits less CO2, while the hybrid received some tweaks to lower fuel consumption and emissions. The diesel also became eligible for the zero road tax rate until it was taken off sale in 2017.
At the same time as the diesel was dropped, the 1.3-litre petrol was replaced by a 1.5-litre unit that brought a small increase in performance while also reducing fuel consumption.
A new hot hatch version called GRMN also went on sale in 2017, powered by a 1.8-litre supercharged petrol engine making 208hp. It was good fun, but sold in extremely limited numbers.
Launched with four trim levels, the Yaris is generally well-equipped, but entry level T2 models aimed to keep the cost low and are therefore rather spartan and best avoided.
TR is the most popular and is available with all engine and transmission combinations, with features including 15-inch alloy wheels, air conditioning and a touchscreen infotainment system.
SR models only get the 1.3-litre engine as well as 16-inch alloy wheels, front fog lights and part-leather upholstery. T Spirit is limited to the same engine but adds a panoramic glass roof, dual-zone climate control and automatic headlights and wipers.
In 2013 an Edition trim came along, built on the T2 model with some extra kit and styling touches, while Trend added to SR with a new 16-inch alloy wheel design and chrome exhaust tips.
For 2014 the trims received new names: Active, Icon, Sport and Excel. Highlights of the revised specifications include a rear-view camera on Icon models, LED daytime running lights and rear LED lights for Sport, and cruise control on Excel.
Toyota again tweaked the specification line-up with 2017’s model redesign. From here the specifications are called Active, Icon, Icon Tech, Design, Bi-tone and Excel.
Equipment levels improved, with the Safety Sense driver assistance package included as standard, and cruise control was introduced from Icon models and up. Icon Tech added sat nav and front parking sensors.
Design received 16-inch alloy wheels, privacy glass and a rear spoiler, while Bi-Tone models have two colours for the exterior and interior. Top-spec Excel models added LED front and rear lights and part-Alcantara upholstery.
Finally, there’s the GRMN hot hatch. Only offered in three-door form, it received 17-inch alloy wheels, a sporty body kit and black rear spoiler on the outside and sports seats inside. Improved cornering abilities came through improved suspension and a limited-slip differential.
The Toyota Yaris is a small car that was offered with both three- and five-door options from launch. However, three-door models were never particularly popular, so these were dropped from the range at the point of the 2017 revision.
If you regularly carry rear passengers or need to fit a child seat in the back seats, the five-door is the one to go for. However, the Isofix anchor points are hidden under the seat padding which can make fitting the seat base fiddly.
There’s loads of headroom in the front and the seats themselves are nicely padded and fairly supportive for such a small car. Your taller friends may struggle with head and legroom in the back, but there’s ample space for three kids to get comfortable.
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.
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 bulkier pushchair is a tight squeeze. There’s a tall boot lip to lift luggage over, too, so loading heavy boxes is difficult – although this isn’t particularly uncommon in such small cars.
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.
The 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.
Toyota’s excellent reliability record means there’s not too much to worry about when buying a used Yaris. In fact, it has won many awards over its lifetime for being one of the most reliable used cars you can buy.
As such, it’s just the usual used buying advice, which is to aim for a car with a full service history, while also giving it a once over for any signs of hidden damage (such as misaligned panels or mismatched paintwork). Also check the alloy wheels for any damage that could have affected the tyres.
In 2014, Toyota made its driver assistance package Safety Sense available on the Yaris as an optional extra. (It became standard kit in 2017.) It’s a good thing to look out for, as it adds systems such as forward collision warning, emergency brake assistance, lane departure alert and automatic high beam.
The car industry sees recalls quite often. These can come about because the Driver and Vehicle Standards Agency notices an issue and sometimes the car maker will spot something. Regardless, owners will be asked to bring their vehicles in to get a repair for free.
Problems can range from small electric gremlins to major mechanical faults. You can find recalls for your vehicle on the Government website or contact your local dealer.
If you want to know more about recalls you can read through this handy guide, or continue below to see what recalls affect the Toyota Yaris.
The largest recall affected almost 8,000 Toyota vehicles, including some Yaris models built between November 2008 and September 2013. Oil can accumulate in the turbocharger, which can be a fire risk.
Another recall, relating to cars built between November 2010 and March 2012, fixed an issue that could have seen the electric power steering module short circuit, resulting in a loss of power steering.
Hybrid models built between February 2018 and April 2019 could see the hybrid system shutting down, resulting in a loss of power. This simple fix was an upgrade to the power converter.
Other issues affecting smaller numbers of cars include a brake fluid leak, a wheel hub that could come loose and a fuel leak from the engine. All should have been rectified, but it’s worth checking if the individual car you’re looking at has had the necessary work carried out.
Safety and security
The Toyota Yaris was one of the safest small hatchbacks of its time thanks to every model getting airbags all around the car, meaning it even holds up pretty well against newer alternatives.
When it was tested in 2012, the Yaris got the full five stars from safety testers Euro NCAP. Although the testing is outdated now and the scoring has become more stringent, the Yaris still performed well, scoring more than 80% in the adult occupant, child occupant and safety assist sections.
Euro NCAP tested the updated Yaris in 2017 using the new, stricter testing regime. Despite Safety Sense now being included as standard, its safety assist score dropped to 56% – though this is about par for similarly sized cars of the time.
If you’re looking for a small car to drive in the city, there are some excellent options on the market. Not least the Ford Fiesta, which is one of the best value cars of any shape and size. It’s great to drive, looks smart and also drives well at higher speeds, while there are plenty about thanks to its status as the UK’s best selling car at various points through its life.
The Volkswagen Polo offers more badge appeal and has big car refinement, but it’s pretty dull to drive compared with the Ford. Most cars are, though. The Vauxhall Corsa is a more comfortable option, but it’s not as fancy inside as the Polo.
The Mazda 2 is a less common alternative. It feels a little posher inside than the Yaris, though it’s not quite as spacious, while the Skoda Fabia is a good choice if practicality is a key concern.
Thinking about buying a used Toyota Yaris? You can browse the latest stock from a network of trusted dealers right here on carwow. And if you need to sell your old car first, we can help with that too.