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2020 Toyota Yaris Performance Review

Scorecard

Performance: 7.5

The 2020 Toyota Yaris is an enjoyable car to drive. It has responsive steering and feels stable in tight turns. Its four-cylinder engine delivers great fuel economy, though the Yaris struggles to accelerate quickly at higher speeds.

  • "With a mere 106 horsepower, the Yaris won’t be winning many street races. Then again, this is a smaller car with not a lot of weight to move, so it doesn’t feel sticky-slow, either. Most buyers will opt for the automatic transmission, a refined 6-speed that matches well with this engine. If you’re willing to put in the effort or simply like more engagement, the 6-speed manual transmission is easy to use and will help you wring a bit more out of the Yaris’ little 4-cylinder engine." -- Kelley Blue Book
  • "While the Yaris might be surprisingly fun to drive, it is not particularly fast, even in a class where slow is the accepted norm." -- Edmunds (2019)
  • "The rest of the driving experience is true to its Mazda engineering, rather than its Toyota badge and that's a good thing. Although certainly not as sharp to drive as the pricier Mazda3, the Yaris is nevertheless blessed with responsive steering and sharp reactions that make it one of the best subcompacts to drive." -- Autotrader (2018)

Acceleration and Power

The Toyota Yaris has a 1.5-liter four-cylinder engine that makes 106 horsepower and 103 pound-feet of torque. A six-speed manual transmission and front-wheel drive are standard. A six-speed automatic transmission is available.

This engine can scoot the Yaris around town without issue, and both of its transmission options earn praise for their smooth operation. However, the powertrain can struggle to haul the Yaris up to highway speeds, and it provides meager passing power.

That said, the Yaris achieves great fuel economy estimates of 30 mpg in the city and 39 mpg on the highway with its manual transmission. The automatic transmission improves this rating to 32 mpg in the city and 40 mpg on the highway.

  • "The Toyota Yaris is the most fun you'll have in a slow car. Its main strengths rest in its superbly playful handling and excellent transmission. We also really enjoy the response and quickness of the steering during spirited driving stints. What the Yaris doesn't deliver is much straight-line speed. Its 1.5-liter engine makes a meager 106 horsepower, which will have you flooring the gas pedal frequently to get up to highway speeds. We measured its run up to 60 mph at a tick over 10 seconds. That's slow even for the economy class." -- Edmunds
  • "Those would be miserable figures in most situations but … [it] only weighs 2,416 lbs. so the little four banger doesn’t have to motivate that much mass. Our tester featured a six-speed automatic transmission that doesn’t wow, but it also doesn’t drone on like a poorly tuned CVT. In fact, the exhaust note has more character than one would expect." -- Automobile Magazine (2018)
  • "The little 1.5-liter engine doesn’t have much muscle, but the slick-shifting 6-speed manual makes milking the engine for all it's worth a fun little game." -- Kelley Blue Book (2018)

Handling and Braking

The Yaris rewards drivers with quick, well-weighted steering and composed handling around turns. It also has a tight turning radius, making it easy to park. Like most subcompact cars, its suspension tends to jitter and shimmy over rough pavement, but not to the point of discomfort.

  • "Ride comfort has taken a back seat to handling performance, which means you'll feel bumps and road texture more than you might want to." -- Edmunds
  • "The Yaris sedan tolerates being pushed in corners and may just make you smile a bit doing it. At higher speeds the cabin can be noisy, as is common in this class. The Yaris is best suited for shorter, in-city jaunts, and its small size makes it a friend to both cramped garages and tight parking spots." -- Kelley Blue Book
  • "The steering is engaging with tons of feedback when the driver turns the wheel, so despite not being fast, or even moderately brisk … [it] carves corners with gusto." -- Automobile Magazine (2018)
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2020 Toyota Yaris

MSRP: $15,650 - $18,750

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