- Excellent fuel economy
- Good ride (sedan)
- Standard safety features
- Reputation for reliability
- Gimmicky centrally mounted gauges
- Doesn't handle especially well
- Flat, small front seats
Improved safety features make the 2010 Toyota Yaris an even more alluring package for those watching every penny in a new-car purchase.
TheCarConnection.com has highlighted some of the most useful review information in compiling our full review on the 2010 Toyota Yaris. And for a quick take and what you need to know about the Yaris, you'll want to read on for our editors' Bottom Line summary, which includes firsthand driving experience with the entire Yaris lineup.
The Yaris replaced the Echo in Toyota's lineup three years ago and has done much better in general—thanks to a lineup that includes both hatchbacks and sedans. For 2009, Toyota added a five-door Liftback hatchback to the lineup, which already included a four-door sedan and three-door Liftback.
The Yaris still manages to look quite stylish compared to most other models in its class—especially as a hatchback. The two body styles of this model clearly cater to two different classes. While the sedan is slightly more conservative in its trims and interior treatment, the three- and five-door Liftback models are more flamboyant, with a more aerodynamic look, European design influences, and a rear roof spoiler atop the hatch. Inside, the Yaris has a very unconventional look, with a center-mounted gauge cluster and Liftback models offering large storage areas behind a slim center stack of controls. The interior is a contrast of elements good and bad, desirable and tacky, as Toyota obviously is trying to make a fashionable cabin while watching its price very carefully.
A 106-horsepower, 1.5-liter four-cylinder engine powers the Yaris, and buyers can choose either from a five-speed manual or four-speed automatic. The power output is low, but it's adequate for a small, light (about 2,300 pounds) car of this type. The engine works quite well with either transmission, though it's a bit louder with the automatic. Keep the revs down and be gentle on the throttle and you won’t hear the engine much at all. Fuel economy is very good, at 29 mpg city, 36 mpg highway with the manual, and TheCarConnection.com's editors have seen as high as 41 mpg in gentle driving.
The 2010 Toyota Yaris sedan is nearly two feet longer and has a three-inch-longer wheelbase, which translates to more backseat space and better stability on the highway. Both versions of the Yaris maneuver reasonably well but aren't as frisky as, say, a MINI Cooper or even a Honda Fit, due to a suspension that's clearly tuned to favor ride over handling. Though the Yaris Liftback model rides on a very short, 96.9-inch wheelbase and is one of the shortest new vehicles, at about 150 inches long, it can get pitchy or bouncy on certain types of roads. It's ideal as a commuter that can fit into the tightest parking spots, yet handle longer trips when the need arises.
Getting more intimate with the Yaris, you'll notice an interior that's obviously been affected by cost-cutting. While the instrument panel looks quite good from a few paces away, it's actually made of hard, easily scratched plastics. Front seats are rather small and skimpy, while the backseat on the Liftback is tough to get into but decent for space; kids should be just fine back there.
For 2010, Toyota has greatly improved the Yaris' standard safety feature list, which now includes electronic stability control and anti-lock brakes with Brake Assist (both features either optional or with limited availability in other inexpensive small cars), plus front side airbags, and roll-sensing side curtain bags. The Yaris has not been a good performer in U.S. crash tests, though; it gets just three stars for side-impact safety, and the IIHS rates the Yaris as "marginal" for rear impact and "acceptable" in its new roof-strength test.
The 2010 Toyota Yaris has a relatively simple lineup, with a single model offered for each body style and transmission. Although air conditioning and keyless entry are included in all models, if you don't option up you'll have manual wind-up windows. A Sport Package brings body-color bumpers and side rocker panels; in addition, it picks up sport seats, a leather-trimmed steering wheel and shifter knob, 15-inch wheels, a rear defroster, a rear wiper, and an audio system with MP3 capability and an auxiliary jack. Cruise control is on offer, as is a cold-weather package with rear-seat heater ducts.