2020 Toyota Yaris
2020 Toyota Yaris
The 2020 Toyota Yaris might not be the sexiest car around, but this thrifty little subcompact is an affordable, practical, and surprisingly zippy piece of work. A low base price and a decent list of standard creature comforts mitigate the lack of comprehensive active-safety features.
For 2020, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto compatibility has been made standard. Also, the hatchback option returns after a brief hiatus from our shores. As with the prior generation, the five-door Yaris is based on the Mazda 2 hatch, which is not sold here.
The hatchback shares the same 1.5-liter inline-4 as the sedan. This engine makes 106 horsepower and sends it all to the front wheels. Base L models get a 6-speed manual transmission, but the upper two trims use a 6-speed automatic.
Both the sedan and hatchback get 32 mpg city, 40 highway, 35 combined when equipped with the 6-speed automatic. The 6-speed manual on the base L sedan drops those figures to 30/39/34 mpg.
Active-safety features are mostly absent on the Yaris. Automatic emergency braking is standard, but it only works at less than 12 mph. No other such safety features are available.
In crash-testing, the 2020 Toyota Yaris earned a five-star rating from the NHTSA. The sedan earned “Good” ratings from the IIHS, but the organization has yet to test the hatchback.
All prices include any applicable destination charges.
The cheapest Yaris is the $16,605 Yaris L. Only available as a sedan, the L comes with automatic emergency braking, smartphone compatibility, power-adjustable mirrors, a 7.0-inch touchscreen, keyless entry, and Bluetooth.
The LE ($17,605 sedan; 18,705 hatchback) adds 16-inch alloy wheels, keyless start, heated mirrors, and fog lights.
The XLE costs $19,705 regardless of body style. This range-topper is equipped with LED automatic headlights, rain-sensing wipers, synthetic leather, automatic climate control, and sportier seats.
Cars in this segment rarely prioritize style, so it’s no surprise that the Yaris isn’t dripping with good looks. The front end is busy and creased. Viewed from the back three-quarter angle, there’s the impression the car is higher than it is; in hatch form, the Yaris gives off serious crossover vibes, a good thing considering the state of the car market.
Considering the price point, there’s little to dislike about the interior of the Yaris. Materials are perfectly fine for a car that never costs more than $20,000, and there’s no glaring fit and finish issues. The car is put together with the same care found in other affordable Toyotas.
This year, the 7.0-inch infotainment system finally has Apple CarPlay and Android Auto as standard. It’s a happy addition, especially in a segment that is always last to benefit from trickle-down economics. The system is straightforward to operate, with graphics and response times that are about par for the class.
Base seats are upholstered in cloth, while XLE seats are done up in synthetic leather. No heated seats are available at any price point. Both the regular and XLE are comfortable and supportive, though the XLE edges out the others in this regard. Credit its slightly more bolstered design.
The rear seat has 34 inches of leg room. That’s not a lot by any means, but it’s about right for a car this size. A Nissan Versa has a full 3 inches of additional rear legroom, however.
Cargo space is decent in both sedan and hatchback form, but not class-leading. About 14 cubic feet can be had in the sedan, which also features split-folding rear seats for additional cargo capacity. The hatch, which is 10 inches shorter than the sedan, offers 16 cubes behind the rear seats.
The Yaris will never be called fast, but the 106 horsepower that’s churned out of the 1.5-liter inline-4 is enough to make around-town driving easy and effortless. The Yaris also weighs just 2,400 pounds, so the lack of horsepower isn’t as bad as it might look on paper.
Highway slogs can get a bit noisy, but it’s never anything too bad. There’s just enough power for passing, but only just. Attempting to overtake a slower car on an uphill grade takes patience and timing.
The 6-speed manual is a fun gearbox to rope around. The shifter throws are relatively short and the gear ratios are well suited to the car and engine. The 6-speed automatic lacks the engagement of the manual but is nonetheless a perfectly good transmission that will anybody who prefers not to shift for themselves.
Out on the road, the Mazda roots manage to filter through the Toyota-badged steering wheel. The steering is surprisingly hefty, in a good way, and the chassis makes good work of twisty roads. The ride is neither too soft or too firm, but just right.
The value proposition of the Yaris is hard to miss. For less than $20,000, buyers get a fine-riding sedan or hatch with smartphone integration, power features, and a comfortable interior. We’d get an LE for its additional features and take the manual transmission for $1,100 in savings.
—by Anthony Sophinos, with driving impressions from The Car Connection