Toyota Yaris review

Category: Small car

The 2024 Yaris Hybrid is a super-economical small car but some rivals are better all-rounders

Toyota Yaris front right driving
  • Toyota Yaris front right driving
  • Toyota Yaris rear right driving
  • Toyota Yaris interior dashboard
  • Toyota Yaris boot open
  • Toyota Yaris interior driver display
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  • Toyota Yaris front cornering
  • Toyota Yaris front right driving
  • Toyota Yaris rear driving
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  • Toyota Yaris front detail
  • Toyota Yaris headlights detail
  • Toyota Yaris alloy wheel detail
  • Toyota Yaris rear lights detail
  • Toyota Yaris interior front seats
  • Toyota Yaris interior infotainment
  • Toyota Yaris interior detail
  • Toyota Yaris front right driving
  • Toyota Yaris rear right driving
  • Toyota Yaris interior dashboard
  • Toyota Yaris boot open
  • Toyota Yaris interior driver display
  • Toyota Yaris right driving
  • Toyota Yaris front cornering
  • Toyota Yaris front right driving
  • Toyota Yaris rear driving
  • Toyota Yaris rear left driving
  • Toyota Yaris front right static
  • Toyota Yaris left static
  • Toyota Yaris rear left static
  • Toyota Yaris front detail
  • Toyota Yaris headlights detail
  • Toyota Yaris alloy wheel detail
  • Toyota Yaris rear lights detail
  • Toyota Yaris interior front seats
  • Toyota Yaris interior infotainment
  • Toyota Yaris interior detail
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Introduction

What Car? says...

Looking for a small car but struggling to decide whether to stick with an engine or go fully electric? The Toyota Yaris Hybrid could be the model you’re searching for.

You see, as a regular hybrid the Yaris can run on petrol like a conventional car, but also has the ability to do short, low-speed stints on electricity alone. That's thanks to the way Toyota has managed to squeeze in a battery and motor as well as a 1.5-litre engine.

Better still, Toyota has long been ahead of the hybrid game, with the fourth-generation model recording one of the best efficiency figures ever in our Real MPG testing. Here's the thing, though: while the Yaris is a frugal choice, it's always struggled to push ahead of the best small cars.

For example, the VW Polo has had an advantage when it comes to comfort and quality, while the Honda Jazz majors on practicality and the Renault Clio has provided better value. ​​​​​​So does the latest Toyota Yaris Hybrid finally come out on top? Read on to find out how we rate it against rivals...

"Toyota reduced the length of the fourth-generation Yaris, making it the shortest car in its class, but its front and rear axles are set further apart in a effort to ensure that leg room for rear seat passengers is slightly better," – Will Nightingale, Reviews Editor

Overview

The Toyota Yaris Hybrid has some important strengths, not least its superb fuel economy, excellent reliability and generous standard kit. However, it can’t match the VW Polo for interior quality or ride comfort, and it's pretty cramped inside, especially compared with the Honda Jazz. The entry-level engine and mid-spec Design trim will suit most buyers' needs.

  • Excellent real-world fuel economy
  • Toyota's reliability record
  • Slow predicted depreciation
  • Firm ride, especially on higher-spec models with bigger wheels
  • Poor rear passenger space
  • So-so interior quality
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Toyota Yaris 1.5 Hybrid Design 5dr CVT review
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Performance & drive

What it’s like to drive, and how quiet it is

Strengths

  • +Quick off the line
  • +Body lean is well controlled

Weaknesses

  • -Quite noisy except at low speeds
  • -Firm ride

Engine, 0-60mph and gearbox

The lower-spec Toyota Yaris Hybrid is driven by a 114bhp 1.5-litre three-cylinder petrol engine plus an electric motor. The higher-spec model (the Yaris Hybrid 130) combines the motor with a 128bhp version of the same engine.

When you squeeze the accelerator pedal, you get instant power thanks to the immediate reaction from the hybrid system. After that, acceleration is moderate: the standard 114bhp car can hit 60mph in 9.7 seconds. The more powerful engine shaves half a second off that time for a marginally quicker 0-60mph sprint time.

All version of the Yaris come with a CVT automatic gearbox. It’s responsive enough but has a tendency to hold the revs near the red line during acceleration, especially in the more powerful model. If you ask for a real turn of pace it gets noisy.

To read about the faster hot-hatch version see our Toyota GR Yaris review.

Suspension and ride comfort

The Yaris's Icon and Design trims are fitted with 16in alloys and regular suspension, and that combination give it a relatively firm ride. It follows minor road contours and jostles you around in your seat more than the Honda Jazz and VW Polo but never becomes overly fractious.

Toyota Yaris image
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The same can’t be said for the Excel, GR Sport and Premiere Edition models. GR Sport models ride on bigger 18in wheels, while the other two variants are fitted with 17in alloys. The increase in wheel size makes the ride even firmer, with the Yaris jostling you around in your seat and crashing more over potholes, especially around town. Luckily, things do improve at motorway speeds. 

If you want a small car that strikes a balance between firmness and comfort, you’ll want to consider the Audi A1 because it offers one of the smoothest and best-controlled rides in the class, and is priced pretty much in line with the Yaris. If you have to go hybrid, the Jazz is worth a look too.

Toyota Yaris rear right driving

Handling

There are more fun cars to drive of this size, but the Yaris feels reasonably comfortable when being driven briskly along a winding road, no matter which trim you've gone for.

There's a reasonable amount of grip, while body lean is well contained. Indeed, the Yaris feels more controlled than the VW Polo through faster twists and turns.

However, while it's more fun to drive than a Jazz, it's not as entertaining as the Renault Clio or Seat Ibiza. Those rivals feel lighter on their toes and have a more direct and accurate steering response that inspires more confidence when turning in to a bend.

Noise and vibration

You'll be impressed by the Yaris’s peaceful manners around town, where the petrol engine is frequently left to slumber while the electric motor does all the work. Toyota says the Yaris can run on battery power alone for up to 80% of the time, and if you're crawling in traffic that may indeed be true.

The petrol engine in everyday driving is relatively subdued, but engine revs soar under hard acceleration and stay high until you’re up to cruising speed. It can be unpleasantly noisy.

At a cruise on a motorway, tyre roar is the main bugbear – especially in models fitted with 17in or 18in wheels. The Skoda Fabia and VW Polo are more hushed at higher speeds.

"The Yaris can drive on pure electric power for up to 80% of a typical urban journey (almost four miles), before the engine has to fire up," – Neil Winn, Deputy Reviews Editor

Interior

The interior layout, fit and finish

Strengths

  • +Physical air-con controls;
  • +Standard rear-view camera

Weaknesses

  • -Some scratchy plastics
  • -Over-the-should view is not the best

Driving position and dashboard

All versions of the Toyota Yaris have a steering wheel that adjusts for reach as well as height. What's more, the wheel is neatly aligned with the pedals and seat, and the seat is supportive. With Excel trim you even get adjustable lumbar support. 

The seating position is fairly standard for the small car class so you sit quite low down. You can use a lever on the right of the seat to hoist yourself up to improve your view out. If a slightly more raised view out is important to you, try the Honda Jazz or the larger Toyota Yaris Cross.

Air-con controls are within easy reach of the driver, and because they’re physical buttons and knobs, they're much easier to operate on the move than touchscreen-based adjusters.

Visibility, parking sensors and cameras

The Yaris isn't too tricky to see out of, especially if you're looking straight ahead, diagonally or to the side. However, we found that the larger (10.5in) infotainment touchscreen in higher-spec models encroached on your view forwards a little. Another gripe is that we wish the rear windows were a little bigger, for better visibility when you glance over your shoulder.

Fortunately, all versions have a rear-view camera as standard to help with parking. Front and rear parking sensors, meanwhile, come as standard on Excel and Premiere Edition models and are optional on Design and GR Sport trims.

Automatic headlights with auto high-beam are standard on all trim levels, but Design trim and above get upgraded from halogen lights to bright LED headlights. On top of that, automatic rain-sensing wipers are standard across the range.

Toyota Yaris interior dashboard

Sat nav and infotainment

Depending on which trim level you go for, you’ll get a touchscreen infotainment system that’s one of two sizes: 9.0in with entry-level Icon and mid-level Design, or 10.5in with Excel, GR Sport and Premiere Edition.

The smaller screen has a row of physical shortcut keys down one side, while the larger one has a column of icons on the display to help you hop between functions. Meanwhile, the graphics are sharp and it's responsive to inputs. You can bypass the system using the standard Android Auto or Apple CarPlay.

Every Yaris comes with DAB radio, Bluetooth and USB-C sockets for charging up your devices. Excel trim and above also get built-in sat-nav and wireless phone-charging, while GR Sport adds a 12.3in digital instrument cluster and top-spec Premiere an upgraded eight-speaker JBL audio system and head-up display.

Quality

The Yaris certainly doesn't feel low-rent inside, and it's a cut above the Hyundai i20. However, while everything feels sturdily screwed together and the stalks and switches feel well engineered, the interior lacks the upmarket feel of the Peugeot 208 and VW Polo.  

From Excel trim and up, you get a soft-touch rubberised material on the dashboard, but it’s not hard to find scratchy plastics lower down, especially on the doors. The best small cars – including the Honda Jazz and Renault Clio – either avoid that issue, or hide it better.

"The front seats of the Yaris are set 36mm lower and 60mm further back than the previous model, helping to improve space for the driver and passenger," – Lawrence Cheung, New Cars Editor

Passenger & boot space

How it copes with people and clutter

Strengths

  • +Rear seatbacks easy to fold down
  • +Quite a few storage spaces

Weaknesses

  • -Limited passenger space
  • -Front seats not very adjustable
  • -Small boot

Front space

Front space in the Toyota Yaris could be better for six-footers, and many rivals – including the Honda Jazz, Seat Ibiza and VW Polo – offer more head and leg room. 

Storage space is more promising. There's a cubby in front of the gear lever that can easily swallow a mobile phone, wallet and keys, plus a small tray above the glovebox for pens and other loose items. Every Yaris has two cupholders under the front centre armrest but the door bins are quite small.

Rear space

How much space is enough? That’s the question you ought to be asking yourself here, because many small-car buyers consider interior space less important than other factors.

So, the Yaris might suit you just fine. It comes with five doors as standard and a couple of six-footers will fit in the back. They just won’t be very comfortable, because there's hardly any head and leg room. Rear passengers will feel cramped because of the rising windowline, which doesn’t let much light into the back seats. 

If you're looking for a small car that can carry taller adults in the back in comfort, you'd be much better off with the Honda Jazz, Skoda Fabia or VW Polo.

Toyota Yaris boot open

Seat folding and flexibility

Every version of the Yaris comes with 60/40 split folding rear seats and the seatbacks are easy enough to fold down. There are no other clever features, such as the cinema-style flip-up seat bases you get in the Honda Jazz.

Front passengers are treated to height adjustment for their chair as standard on Excel, GR Sport and Premiere Edition trim, but that’s about it.

Boot space

Boot space is not a Yaris strength. The overall capacity is 286 litres, which is slightly less than you get in a Jazz and significantly down on the comparatively cavernous Renault Clio, Seat Ibiza and VW Polo.

We managed to fit four carry-on suitcases below the Yaris's parcel shelf, while all the rivals can swallow at least five. Ultimately, that means you’ll easily fit a decent-sized load of shopping in there, but if you regularly need to carry more there are better choices available.

What’s more, unlike the Polo and some other cars, there's no option to have a height-adjustable boot floor, meaning there's a big (160mm) drop down to the floor of the boot from the entrance.

"Oddment storage inside is especially good, including a tray below the infotainment screen, a cubbyhole in front of the gear lever and a bin under the centre armrest," – Lawrence Cheung, New Cars Editor

Buying & owning

Everyday costs, plus how reliable and safe it is

Strengths

  • +Good fuel economy
  • +Excellent reliability
  • +Plenty of standard equipment

Weaknesses

  • -Quite high starting price

Costs, insurance groups, MPG and CO2

The Toyota Yaris is one of the cheapest non-electric small cars to run, and also makes a low-cost company car because the low CO2 emissions (from as little as 91g/km) translate into a low BIK tax rate.

Officially, the lower-powered engine (the 1.5 Hybrid) will manage from 57.6mpg to 70.6mpg. The more powerful, 1.5 Hybrid 130 engine is equally impressive when it comes to efficiency. On a 61-mile test route with a mix of rural and urban driving we saw an indicated 56.3mpg.

That’s good, because as a cash purchase, the Yaris is pricier to buy than many other mainstream petrol rivals, including the Seat Ibiza and VW Polo, and pretty much in line with hybrid rivals such as the Honda Jazz and Renault Clio E-Tech. To make sure you get the best price whichever you pick, see our New Car Deals pages.

Equipment, options and extras

Even in entry-level Icon trim, the Yaris is well-equipped, but we’d take a step up and go for the Design. It doesn’t cost all that much more but gets climate control, electric windows, 16in alloy wheels, adaptive cruise control, heated door mirrors, automatic headlights, rear privacy glass and LED headlights.

Next in line is Excel, which adds the bigger infotainment system and more driving aids. Interestingly, though, GR Sport sits above Excel but is slightly less well equipped. Its focus is on sportiness, adding sports seats and sportier styling inspired by the GR Yaris hot hatch. It rides on larger 18in wheels and features black exterior trim. 

Topping the Yaris range is the Premier Edition. As the most expensive model, it gets all the same kit as the Excel, such as front and rear parking sensors, but is available with a bi-tone paint finish, with Neptune Blue offered exclusively as a colour option.

Toyota Yaris interior driver display

Reliability

In the small-car section of the 2023 What Car? Reliability Survey the Yaris finished in joint third place with the previous-generation Hyundai i10.

As a manufacturer, Toyota finished in an excellent second place out of 32 brands in the overall league table. Honda finished sixth and Volkswagen came 22nd.

A three-year warranty comes as standard with the Yaris, but there is the option of extending it up to 10 years and 100,000 miles if you service your car at a Toyota dealership every year. That's longer than any other brand gives you (three years is the norm), but Kia and Hyundai offer seven and five years.

Safety and security

Toyota’s Safety Sense package is standard on all versions of the Yaris and brings automatic emergency braking (AEB), lane-keeping assistance and a road-sign display with a warning if you go over the speed limit. 

Blind-spot monitoring, rear cross-traffic alert and safe exit assist come as standard on Excel and Premiere Edition models, and are available in an optional safety pack on Design and GR Sport trim.

Euro NCAP awarded the Yaris five stars (out of five) for safety, although the organisation did highlight that adult crash protection in a frontal impact could be better. The Honda Jazz scored slightly higher marks in this part of the test.

"The Yaris is the second most efficient car we've put through our Real MPG test. The only car that beat is is the Toyota Yaris Cross, so it's one of the best options if fuel economy is a priority," – Claire Evans, Consumer Editor


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FAQs

  • Our expert reviewers gave the Yaris four stars out of five, making it one of the best small cars you can buy. It does very well for efficiency, reliability and equipment in particular.

  • If you can, we’d pay the extra to go for the Design trim level. It strikes a good balance between having loads of equipment without costing a fortune. It also gets 16in alloy wheels, making it one of the more comfortable versions of the Yaris.

  • Not a full electric car no – but every Yaris is a hybrid car. That means you get a petrol engine plus two electric motors and a battery. It can travel very short distances on electric power, and is particularly effective in stop-start city traffic.

At a glance
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Target Price from £21,013
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From £11,975
RRP price range £22,640 - £29,715
Number of trims (see all)5
Number of engines (see all)2
Available fuel types (which is best for you?)hybrid
MPG range across all versions 65.7 - 91.1
Available doors options 5
Warranty 3 years / 60000 miles
Company car tax at 20% (min/max) £986 / £1,357
Company car tax at 40% (min/max) £1,973 / £2,714
Available colours