CHEAP & CHEERFUL: 2020 TOYOTA YARIS HATCHBACK
There was a time, not too far long ago that a cheap car was just that… cheap. Features such as cruise control, air conditioning and a radio were all optional extras. Even those that we didn’t see like power steering, disc brakes and side airbags. Things have certainly changed over the years and as we start to look at sub-compact economy cars in a different light, things a much brighter than they used to be.
Starting at $17,750, the Toyota Yaris Hatchback isn’t necessarily the cheapest sub-compact car on the market with the Honda Fit starting at $16,190 and the new Hyundai Venue at $16,850 – although that may be considered more crossover than hatchback. Going through its own form of identity crisis, the Yaris isn’t necessarily a Toyota at all. Partnering with Mazda and their sub-compact Mazda 2, which isn’t available this side of the Atlantic Ocean, the rebadged hatch started out on the Scion side of the name plate as the Scion iA. After a sad goodbye to a jovial youthful brand, the Scion iA quickly took on the name, Yaris iA. Now as we roll in to 2020 with the introduction of the hatchback, Toyota has dropped the two initials.
The Yaris hatchback features only two variants, LE and XLE verses the sedan that offers its most cheapest ‘L’ model at $15,650. With its Mazda interfaced interior, things are kept simple and structured throughout the cabin. A high center mounted 7-inch infotainment screen display is prominent followed by stylish design element throughout the dash that incorporates an attractive use of chrome and other finishing touches. The LE integrates a long list of standard features from tech to safety including push button start, Bluetooth, low-speed pre-collision system and integrated Apple CarPlay & Android Auto connectivity.
Our featured XLE is the highlight of the Yaris line-up as it keeps things trendy with LED automatic headlights, leatherette interior trimming on the seats and dash, automatic climate control, and rain-sensing automatic wipers. The interior of the XLE present a dashing style with leather on the door panels and dash accented by blue stitching. The drawback to the Yaris and its sub-compact vibe is that falls in line to its antiquated rear passenger space leaving it more suitable for children while cargo capacity in the trunk should be kept away from any big-box grocery stores.
Its charming side however features a cheerful chassis refinement. Being one of the more highlighted sub-compact hatchbacks on the market, the Yaris is matched with a level of charisma one wouldn’t expect from this youthful soul. Despite not having a center console or flip down arm to rest, we’re forced to keep both hands on the wheel which happens to provide a favorable experience through its crisp responsive steering and lively suspension. Supported by a not very poignant 1.5-liter engine producing a dismal 106-horsepower through an only available six-speed automatic, we’re not necessarily displeased with its nearly 10-seconds to 60 mph. Other trims below the XLE have the option to chop off $1100 for a six-speed manual. In the spirits of this charming little city enchantments its automatic transmission is jubilant for the daily grind and even though there is a Sport mode and manual shift option to make things more jolly, something tells us the consumer will never know what lurks behind that chrome plated button.
Our time with this pleasant hatch didn’t see much of the open road – the only freeway it saw was packed full of traffic going slower than a retiree pushing their walker. But this is where the Yaris shines in its commuting ways – with an average of 34 mpg, we barely just missed the its EPA rating of 32/40/35 (city/highway/combined) mpg. Cheap cars no longer fill an idea we used to have. With spirited captive intentions, the Toyota Yaris hatchback sees exciting new territory in being both cheap and cheerful.
Model: 2020 TOYOTA YARIS
Trim: XLE HATCHBACK
Starting Price: $17,750
As Tested: $19,680
Color: PULSE RED
Engine: 1.5-LITER FOUR-CYLINDER
Horsepower/Torque: 106-HORSEPOWER / 103 LB-FT TORQUE
Transmission: 6-SPEED AUTOMATIC
Drivetrain: FRONT-WHEEL DRIVE
Fuel Economy: EPA RATED: 32-CITY / 40-HWY / 35-COMBINED
AS TESTED: 33.8 MPG COMBINED
Fuel Range: 350 MILES
0-60 MPH: ±9.5 SECONDS