What's the used Toyota Yaris hatchback like?
You might not think it much of a trendsetter, but the Toyota Yaris broke the mould for small cars when it was launched in 1999, with daring design details such as a digital speedometer housed in a pod in the centre of the dash.
While it’s true to say the Yaris has become more conventional over the years, as reviewed here in third-generation guise it still represents solid value for money, particularly for those who rate reliability over driving dynamics. Indeed this version was immensely popular and ran all the way from 2011 until it was replaced by a new Toyota Yaris in 2020, so there are plenty on the used market.
- Looking for an older Toyota Yaris? Read our 1999-2003 Toyota Yaris, 2003-2005 Toyota Yaris and 2006-2011 Toyota Yaris used buying guides
The Yaris stands out from some of its older rivals because of the availability of a petrol-electric hybrid version, which loses out on some boot space but promises green credentials. Among rivals, the mild-hybrid Suzuki Swift isn't quite as economical as the Yaris because it cannot be powered by the electric motor only. And unlike its other key rival, the third-generation Honda Jazz Hybrid, the Yaris can run on electricity alone for short periods. With battery and engine working in unison, a 0-62mph time of 11.8sec is possible, albeit with a great deal of noise thanks to the CVT gearbox.
Petrol engines in 1.0-litre and 1.3-litre capacities, plus a 1.4-litre diesel, have made up the rest of the range. We like the livelier 1.3-litre unit paired with the easy-shifting five-speed manual gearbox (Toyota’s Multidrive S CVT automatic is fine around town but provokes a lot of engine noise under hard acceleration). From 2017, a 1.5 petrol replaced the 1.3; it should be slightly more fuel efficient and cleaner. It’s noticeably faster than the 1.0 and is, therefore, better for those who regularly tackle longer journeys.
Initially, the Yaris was available in T2, TR, SR and top-spec T Spirit trims. Entry-level T2 models lacked air conditioning, so it’s worth upgrading to TR for additional features such as electrically controlled door mirrors, a reversing camera and a touchscreen system. Higher up in the range, other trims included sat-nav, a panoramic glass roof and dual-zone climate control.
The range was revised in early 2014 to entry-level Active, mid-range Icon and the short-lived Icon Plus and Trend models. That’s because the latter two made way for Sport and Excel trims later in that year. A more affordable Active version of the hybrid was introduced in 2015; this included some desirable extras, such as climate control, normally reserved for higher-spec models.
Further alterations came in 2017 with Bi-Tone models being offered. They feature two colours on the outside, with a similar two-tone treatment given to the dashboard and door cards. In 2018, a hotter GRMN Yaris was added to the range with revised suspension and a 212bhp 1.8-litre engine. It’s a real giggle to drive but is too raucous and one-dimensional in its character against more sophisticated rivals.
The light steering is good for town driving, but it doesn’t inspire as much confidence on the open road as the more informative steering you get in rivals such as the Ford Fiesta, Volkswagen Polo and Mazda 2.
Similarly, ride comfort lags behind the Fiesta's; although the Yaris is far from unbearable, you feel more thumps and bumps through the suspension. There’s a bit of wind noise at motorway speeds, too.
The Yaris is one of the roomier cars in its class, with plenty of interior space for those in the back, helped by a completely flat floor. There’s lots of head room up front, although the dashboard design is a little basic.
Boot space matches the Fiesta's but falls short of that in the Skoda Fabia and Honda Jazz. Furthermore, you have to make do with a large step in the floor of the boot when the rear seats are folded down.
What used Toyota Yaris hatchback will I get for my budget?
While you can pick up a third-generation Toyota Yaris for £3000, it is likely to have high mileage. Push your budget up to between £4000-£4500 and it’s possible to find early petrol models with 40,000-80,000 miles on the clock. This seems a better-value alternative to a diesel model at the same price that has covered more miles.
Facelifted cars from mid-2015 start at just over £5500, although it’s worth noting that demand for the entry-level three-door model is low, so it’s better to spend a bit more on a five-door car to protect resale values.
A Yaris Hybrid will cost from just under £7500 for a pre-facelift car or slightly over £8000 for a post-facelift one. A 2017 car with the current 1.5-litre petrol starts at around £8000. Spend between £8000 and £10,000 on good 2018 and 2019 models, and a fraction more on the last of the 2020 cars. The GRMN hot hatch is exceptionally rare on the used market and prices, therefore, reflect that; you’ll need at least £18,000 to get into one.
Check the value of a used Toyota Yaris with What Car? Valuations
Find a used Toyota Yaris for sale here
How much does it cost to run a Toyota Yaris hatchback?
With an official combined fuel economy figure of 80.7mpg, the Yaris Hybrid will be a cheap car to run. It will cost you more to buy than a conventional petrol model, so you’ll need to factor that in.
While a diesel Yaris isn't as frugal on paper at 72.4mpg, but it’ll still be an inexpensive daily driver. The 1.0-litre petrols have a combined figure of 58.9mpg, but only if you don’t thrash it.
Post-facelift models are also inexpensive to drive, with the latest 1.5 achieving 55.4mpg.
Provided it’s on smaller 15in alloy wheels, the hybrid only emits 79g/km of CO2. The diesel can't quite match that at 104g/km, but it'll still be pretty cheap to tax. Next is the 1.5-litre petrol at 109g/km, with the underpowered 1.0-litre petrol putting out slightly more at 111g/km.
Road tax (VED)
Most examples will fall under the previous road tax system which depends on the amount of CO2 a car produced to determine what the yearly fee will be. Anything registered after 1 April 2017 will be charged a flat-rate fee that'll often cost you more than for an equivalent example registered before that date. The current rate is £180 a year. Hybrids will qualify for a small discount, £170 a year, being an 'alternative fuel' vehicle. To find out all the latest information about road tax costs, read our guide here.
Servicing is required once a year, and there’s the option of joining the Toyota 5+ club for free to get 20% off of servicing and MOT costs once your car is more than five years old.
Which used Toyota Yaris hatchback should I buy?
Depending on which year of Yaris you’re looking for, go for either a TR or Icon model, because they come with plenty of kit. There’s little point going for a higher-spec car with an integrated sat-nav, because the touchscreen infotainment system is far from being the best around because it's awkward to use and slow to respond.
The standard 1.3-litre petrol is peppy yet economical enough for you not to have to suffer with the rather slow 1.0-litre engine. There are also more of them available compared with the newer 1.5. A hybrid might be a good call if you commute into central London, because it escapes the ULEZ charge. However, it doesn’t have low enough emissions to avoid the Congestion Charge like it used to.
Our favourite Toyota Yaris: 1.3 Icon
What alternatives should I consider to a used Toyota Yaris hatchback?
For an alternative small car from Japan, the Mazda 2 is worth a look. Like the Fiesta, it isn't as big on the inside as the Yaris, but it's great to drive and more frugal than the Fiesta in day-to-day motoring.
Other small cars worth considering include the Kia Rio for its seven-year warranty, the Vauxhall Corsa for its low purchase price and the Volkswagen Polo for its classy image and grown-up driving experience.