The 2009 Toyota Yaris is Toyota's smallest, least expensive model. Research by TheCarConnection.com finds its styling to be much better received than that of its predecessor, the Echo. For 2009, a five-door Liftback joins the three-door Liftback and four-door sedan in the model line.
Autobytel says, "Overall, the styling is a bit quirky, with the grille and headlights almost creating the automotive equivalent of a grin, but it helps distinguish the Yaris and imparts some personality." Automobile Magazine reports, "The two-door hatch's funky styling was born in Toyota's European design studio," adding that, compared to the Echo that the Yaris replaced for 2007, the Liftback and sedan "no longer look like automotive design don'ts." Road & Track notes that the four-door Yaris sedan "looks like the little brother of the Corolla."
Much attention has been paid to Toyota's departure from the usual conservative styling of its smallest cars; Autoblog thinks "the design is deliberately weird enough" to be sold under Toyota's youth-oriented Scion brand instead. "Indeed," continues the Autoblog reviewer, "Toyota's supposedly hipper sub-brand offers the xD, a five-door on the same architecture as the three and four-door Yaris models."
A more sport-oriented "S" model adds sport seats, larger wheels, a mild body kit, and a leather-wrapped steering wheel and shift knob. Autobytel reports, "Outside, the S body kit and 15-inch wheels worked wonders on our tester, at least implying some sport if not actually delivering it." However, Road & Track points out that "Yaris owners can up the ante with TRD accessories including suspension modifications, sport exhaust and 18-in. alloy wheels."
The interior design is a bit more controversial; the layout "lends the Yaris a bigger feel inside," says Autoblog, but Autobytel gripes, "A center-mounted gauge cluster is nothing new, and neither are our complaints about it." Automobile Magazine has a particularly negative view, stating, "Toyota insists that drivers eventually get used to the unconventional location—yeah, and convicts eventually get used to cell block D." But Road & Track sees more humor in the center-mounted gauges, quipping, "Now everybody in the car can see how fast you're going, or how much fuel you have left."