The Bottom Line
Toyota has made a couple of important changes to the Yaris for 2009. First, they fixed my biggest complaint about the 2008 Yaris: Side- and side-curtain airbags and antilock brakes are now standard. Second, they've added a new 5-door version, which is based on the 3-door hatchback (as opposed to the slightly-larger 4-door sedan). The new 5-door Yaris competes against new versions of the Honda Fit, Chevy Aveo5 and Nissan Versa. How does it stack up against its fellow subcompact cars? Read on.
- Small and easy to park
- Proven track record for quality and reliability
- Small trunk
- 5-door not available with manual transmission
- New 5-door hatchback version of Toyota's smallest, least-expensive car
- Price range (Yaris 5-door): $14,025 - $17,475
- Model tested/price: Yaris 5-door, $16,454
- EPA fuel economy estimates: 29 MPG city, 25 MPG highway
- Best rivals: Honda Fit, Chevrolet Aveo5, Nissan Versa
Guide Review - 2009 Toyota Yaris 5-door Liftback
The 5-door version of the Yaris isn't, strictly speaking, all-new. Toyota has offered it in other countries, including Canada, since the Yaris' 2007 introduction. Aside from the extra doors, the 5-door Yaris is identical to the 3-door in terms of -- well, of everything, from outside length to rear-seat legroom. It's just easier to get into the back seat, that's all. The only other difference is that the 5-door comes with an automatic transmission, which accounts for $800 of the $1,100 price premium over the 3-door.
The Yaris comes standard with air conditioning but little else. Power windows, mirrors and locks and even a stereo are optional, and adding them brings the price up to $15,605. For comparison, the Honda Fit, which gets all that stuff as standard, costs $15,420 with a stick-shift and $16,220 with an automatic. The Fit is worth the extra money -- it's got a bigger back seat and more than twice as much cargo space, plus it's more enjoyable to drive. Don't get me wrong; the Yaris is a great little car. I love the funky styling, the center-mounted gauge pod, and the storage-happy interior (it has three gloveboxes!), and I'm glad they've added the extra safety equipment, though I do wish the trunk was bigger. The 1.5 liter engine has plenty of zip, even with the old-tech 4-speed automatic, and it returns good fuel economy -- I averaged 34.3 MPG. And I appreciate the convenience of the extra two doors. But the Honda Fit just does the job better.
I do prefer the Yaris 5-door over the Chevrolet Aveo5, which lacks side airbags and doesn't drive very well. If you're on a tight budget, I'd also look at the Nissan Versa 1.6, a new dirt-cheap stripped-down version of Nissan's roomy small car. Bottom line: The Yaris is a great small car. It's just not the best small car. -- Aaron Gold
The test vehicle for this review was supplied by Toyota.