Toyota Yaris (2020) Review

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Toyota Yaris (2020) At A Glance

Honest John Overall Rating
The Toyota Yaris has crystal clear appeal. Okay, so it’s expensive, but its smart looks and high-tech interior make it feel like a pint-sized Lexus, a notion that’s backed up by its quiet hybrid drivetrain and standard autonomous driving aids.

+Looks great on the outside and isn't too shabby on the inside either. Hybrid engine is cheap to run and relaxing. Autonomous aids make long drives painless.

-You get lots of kit, but it is quite pricy. Not as well rounded as a Volkswagen Polo.

If you're looking for a small car you really are spoilt for choice. There's the Ford Fiesta which is great to drive, the Volkswagen Polo that is comfortable and practical and the Peugeot 208 which is stylish to the bone and also available as a pure electric. The Toyota Yaris gets close to matching these cars in all areas while majoring on comfort and fuel economy – thanks to its suite of autonomous driving aids and petrol-electric setup. 

Looking for a Toyota Yaris (2020 on)?
Register your interest for later or request to be contacted by a dealer to talk through your options now.

If the Toyota Yaris was a European country it would be Sweden. Famed for being taxing on the wallet, Sweden rewards your investment by providing an excellent quality of life. 

In much the same way, the Yaris comes loaded with technology that’s expensive but ultimately makes your life better. 

Thankfully, we can drop the Swedish analogy at the Yaris’s styling because it’s pure Japanese. A jumble of creases and curves, sharp edges, with a hint of origami, bookended by a gaping grille and pair of attractively protruding tail lights. It’s a Yaris that, whisper it, looks great. 

The inside doesn’t quite match these high standards. Its slabby looking infotainment screen rises awkwardly (if practically) out the top of the dashboard, but the rest of the cabin is lovingly sculpted. You even get a thick seam of squishy plastic that’ll keep Volkswagen’s head of perceived quality trembling under their duvet. 

Volkswagen’s head of practicality – if such a job existed – would get off more lightly because, while the Yaris is quite practical for its size, it’s not as spacious in the back as the Polo and it’s boot isn’t as well designed or as roomy.

That’s about where the negatives end, mind you, because the Yaris is near enough a class-leader in every other respect and it goes about it in its own unique way. 

Take the hybrid engine, it serves up spectacular fuel economy almost irrespective of how or where you drive. Its ability to drive in silent electric power almost all the time in town makes the Yaris extremely relaxing to potter about in and it’ll take you all the way up to motorway speeds without stirring the petrol engine.

It’s at this point that Yaris pulls another trick out its sleeve – its comprehensive suite of autonomous driving aids. Bang up to date, they’ll keep the Yaris arrow straight in its lane and around curves while braking and accelerating with a deft smoothness that serves only to expose the poor quality of driving of the humans around you. 

Sure, you have to keep your eyes on the road and your hands on the wheel, but it cuts down on fatigue and makes long motorway slogs less exhausting as a result. It makes the Yaris the small car to have if you do lots of long-distance driving. 

It's worth saving your energy because when you turn off onto an A road you realise the Yaris is actually decent fun. It grips well and steers with precision. It’s not a genuine driver's car like a Ford Fiesta but, unlike the old Yaris, it is at least playing the same sport.

And anyway, like Sweden, you sense Toyota hasn’t tried to copy anyone else – it's made things better by going its own way. So, while the Yaris isn’t the last word in dynamics or the very best in terms of practicality, it makes up for that with its smart design, relaxing drive and unnervingly good fuel economy.

It's no longer just the safe choice, instead it's a desirable car that just so happens to also be very sensible. 

Ask Honest John

Can you suggest a small, premium hybrid?
"I drive a 4-year-old Mercedes C-Class - which I love. But even before lockdown, I thought it was time to get a smaller car and venture into the world of hybrids. I'm looking for a high-spec, small, self-charging hybrid - either a hatchback or small SUV. I do mostly local journeys but some longer ones so I don’t want to go fully electric yet. On the Mercedes, I'm used to a high spec and lots of gizmos so I am looking for the most luxurious small car - this time with 5 doors, that is easy to park. I realise performance will not be as good as I'm used to but would like to get the best I can. My car is my luxury item in life so cost is not a big issue. I would be very grateful for your recommendations."
We'd recommend a Lexus UX 250h. It's a small hybrid crossover SUV with a premium cabin. Lexus is Toyota's premium brand and owners are generally a very satisfied bunch: You could also consider the CT 200h hatchback although it's been around for a number of years and is showing its age a bit now. Alternatively, look at a Toyota C-HR or the excellent new Yaris – they won't feel as classy as your Mercedes, but they're very dependable and efficient cars.
Answered by Andrew Brady
Which hybrid SUV would you recommend purchasing new or nearly new?
"I'm an engineer and if I were designing an electric vehicle, it would have an electric variable speed motor in each hub, some onboard electrical charge storage, an intelligent hub to manage and deliver power, and also control traction, along with a lightweight petrol engine to deliver additional charge when required. Is that what the motor industry is delivering? Also, which hybrid SUV would you recommend purchasing new or nearly new? Many thanks."
Motor-on-each-wheel technology is expensive but ultimately where the industry will go because of the limitless handling possibilities. That said, expect a motor on each axle to remain for a long time to come, I've heard the industry has barely scratched the surface of what it can do with torque vectoring etc. The BMW X5 PHEV has excellent real-world electric only range – although the battery's have been recalled due to fires... Not so good. For reliability, you can't go wrong with the Toyota Prius PHEV or, indeed, any Toyota HEV – the current Corolla and Yaris are both excellent.
Answered by Russell Campbell
Should I get a diesel, petrol or hybrid?
"I have a 2007 Toyota Yaris diesel and love the running costs of it. I'm looking to buy a three-year old car and was wondering if I can get something similar, but possibly cleaner. What are my best options, economically and reliability wise? Or should I just get another Yaris diesel? I do barely any city driving & just over 10,000 miles a year."
I'd go with the Toyota Yaris 1.5-litre hybrid. It's a great little car and was ranked as one of the UK's most reliable in our latest Satisfaction Index:
Answered by Dan Powell
Should I get a Toyota Yaris or a Volkswagen Polo?
"Which of these two cars you think would be best for me: Volkswagen Polo or Toyota Yaris. I'm a 70 year old who needs a car that is safe, reliable and comfortable. My late husband always bought our cars so I'm a bit green when it comes to actually buying one. I have seen these two online but unfortunately I can't go and see them as the showrooms/forecourts are not yet open here in Scotland. I would also be interested to hear if you can suggest anything else. Many thanks."
Go for the Toyota Yaris. It is a really good small car with a strong reputation for reliability. It's also very comfortable and easy to drive. You may also want to consider the Suzuki Swift:
Answered by Dan Powell

What does a Toyota Yaris (2020) cost?

Buy new from £17,129 (list price from £19,910)