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2019 Toyota Yaris Performance Review

Scorecard

Performance: 7.6

The 2019 Toyota Yaris' performance depends on the body style. Sedan models handle corners with agility and still maintain a stable ride, while hatchback models are more tuned for comfort. You'll find great fuel economy estimates from the Yaris sedan and about-average estimates from the hatch. However, the Yaris has slow acceleration no matter which model you choose. 

  • 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
  • "The rest of the driving experience is true to its Mazda engineering, rather than its Toyota badge ... that's a good thing. Although certainly not as sharp to drive as the pricier Mazda3, the iA is nevertheless blessed with responsive steering and sharp reactions that make it one of the best subcompacts to drive." -- Autotrader (2018)
  • There's one engine for the 2018 Toyota Yaris: a 1.5-liter 4-cylinder that's good for 106 horsepower. It sends this to the front wheels through either a 5-speed manual transmission or a 4-speed automatic. That's not a lot of power, and the transmissions' gear count is low by today's standards, but the Yaris holds its own around town. Out on the highway though it's the Little Engine That Barely Can, and that goes double if you want to pass someone; instead, we suggest learning the power of patience. The clunky manual feels antiquated in its operation, too." -- Kelley Blue Book (2018)

Acceleration and Power

The Yaris has a 106-horsepower 1.5-liter four-cylinder engine that's adequate for city driving but underpowered on the highway. The Yaris sedan comes with a six-speed manual transmission and the option for a six-speed automatic. These transmissions make good use of the engine's power. The same thing can’t be said about the Yaris hatchback. It has a standard five-speed manual gearbox or an optional four-speed automatic. Very few cars come with four-speed automatics these days, and that’s because having fewer gears inhibits fuel efficiency and acceleration.

With the automatic transmission, the 2019 Yaris sedan delivers 32 mpg in the city and 40 mpg on the highway, which are outstanding estimates in the class.  

  • 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)
  • "The standard transmission is a 6-speed manual, but most buyers will pay the extra $1,100 and go for a 6-speed automatic. It's a regular, planetary-geared unit (as opposed to a continuously variable transmission), and it shifts just as smartly as it does in other cars produced by Mazda. If anyone does go for the stick shift, the action is fairly quick and slick, though the clutch bites quite high within the pedal's range of travel." -- Autotrader (2018)
  • "The Yaris, with its 106-horsepower engine and four-speed automatic transmission lag, behind the competition, which offer more powerful engines and smoother-shifting six-speed transmissions." -- Edmunds (2018)

Handling and Braking

Both the Yaris sedan and hatchback deliver smooth rides, but there are key differences in handling between the two. The hatch is comfortable and composed, but the sedan is more athletic, with its sharp steering and responsive handling.

  • The Yaris' ride is taut. You'll feel sharp bumps, but the car is controlled overall." -- Edmunds
  • "The steering is engaging with tons of feedback when the driver turns the wheel, so despite not being fast, or even moderately brisk, the iA carves corners with gusto." -- Automobile Magazine (2018)
  • Toyota has tuned the suspension for comfort, and it delivers a smooth-for-a-small-car ride. The Yaris SE is moderately better, with a slightly stiffer suspension, but without any additional power. That said, it's fine for just put-putting (sic) around town, and it's likely the sensible types attracted to the Yaris will be more thrilled with the parking-lot maneuverability afforded by the little Toyota's diminutive size. However, note that competitors like the Chevy Spark and Honda Fit offer a CVT automatic or more gears, which improve both performance and fuel economy." -- Kelley Blue Book (2018)
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