The 2011 Toyota Yaris, the smallest car sold in the U.S. by Japan’s largest brand, is now in the last years of its model life. The hatchback models are still stylish, but against newer competition, the Yaris falls short on features and interior comfort. As one of the shortest subcompacts on sale, it’s better as an urban runabout—and it can park almost anywhere—than as a long-distance traveler. It’s affordable, and has a good reputation for reliability, but falls short on many creature comforts.
The Yaris offers three body styles: a four-door sedan, a five-door Liftback, and also a three-door hatchback—an increasingly rare choice among subcompacts. It comes with just a single engine, a 106-horsepower, 1.5-liter four. Buyers can choose a five-speed manual transmission or a primitive four-speed automatic. The EPA rates the Yaris at 29 mpg city and 36 mpg highway, for a combined rating of 32 mpg; specifying the automatic lowers the numbers to 29 city, 35 highway, and 31 combined. For a while, the Yaris was the greenest non-hybrid car on sale in the U.S., but several contenders now offer better gas mileage using newer six-speed automatic transmissions.
The Yaris is small and light enough that this low-powered engine is sufficient for urban traffic, though it’s hardly as responsive and fun to drive as a Honda Fit or that definitive urban roller skate, the Mini Cooper. Toyota has opted for ride comfort over roadholding in the Yaris’s suspension, meaning that on fast, twisty roads, the body leans a lot and the car can simply feel overwhelmed. In the city, it’s more responsive and turns on a dime.
Inside, the front seat cushions are short and the skimpy seat backs offer little side support, another incentive not to drive the Yaris too aggressively. Taller drivers will be cramped in front, though average-sized humans will fit in the back of either body style—barely—if they splay their legs around the front seat backs. The sedan’s trunk is surprisingly large, however.
We’re not fans of gauge clusters mounted in the center of the dash, and there’s little to love in the rest of the 2011 Toyota Yaris interior. The stylish looks of the instrument panel are betrayed by swaths of hard plastic.
Worst of all, the single trim level of the 2011 Yaris harkens back to the days of grim, low-spec “economy cars” with extra cost associated with even the most basic of features. You have to pay extra for cruise control, iPod connectivity, and Bluetooth connectivity, for example, which are becoming standard on increasing numbers of subcompacts like the Ford Fiesta. Appearance options and satellite radio are also available.
For more details, see the full review of the 2011 Toyota Yaris on our sister site, TheCarConnection.
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