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  • Neat interior; touchscreen with multiple functions; excellent audio system; good noise insulation; styling has broad appeal
  • Doesn\'t stand out in any area;, interior lacks class of Polo cabin; no dual-clutch auto

7 / 10

Toyota Yaris Review
Toyota Yaris Review
Toyota Yaris Review

It seems strange to think of classic compacts like the Corolla and Civic playing big brother to a range of even thriftier super-compacts, but with running expenses continuing to crunch hard on car owners, the era of the city car starts to make a whole lot of sense.

It’s not like you need to go without any of the usual mod cons just because you’re downsizing. The days when air conditioning and in-car sound systems were expensive optional extras are long gone.

Take our top-spec Toyota Yaris YRX hatch. It costs $21,390, but its impressive roll call of standard features include automatic transmission, climate control air-conditioning, satellite navigation with a 6.1-inch touch screen, a premium sound system, full smartphone connectivity with Bluetooth streaming and automatic headlamps.

And that’s just the highlights – the complete inventory of creature comforts and safety kit on board the Yaris is as extensive as those found in many of the larger, more expensive players.

But it’s not like Toyota has sewn up the light car game with Toyota Yaris. There are more than a few all-stars competing in this ever-growing segment. Models such as the Mazda 2, Ford Fiesta, Kia Rio and Suzuki Swift all offer exceptionally good packages at the budget end of the spectrum.

To give the Toyota its credit, Yaris sales still trump the competition, with March sales results showed it to be the clear favourite with a market share of 13.5 per cent, well ahead of second place Mazda 2 with 11.7 per cent.

Toyota Yaris Review
Toyota Yaris Review
Toyota Yaris Review
Toyota Yaris Review

The Yaris range offers two four-cylinder petrol engines – a 1.3-litre and 1.5-litre – and either a five-speed manual or four-speed automatic transmission.

While there’s no fuel-saving direct injection technology, the 1.5-litre engine under the bonnet of the YRX is good for 80kW and 141Nm. That’s more than the Mazda 2 and Hyundai i20. As the top-spec, automatic model in the Yaris range, it’s also the heaviest fuel user, rated at 6.3L/100km – but that’s still pretty good by today’s petrol city car standards.

Despite the relatively small output engine, progress is more than sufficient and is assisted by the car’s relatively light, 1025kg weight. Acceleration from a standing start certainly won’t have you lagging behind the rest of the traffic, and freeway travel at 110km/h is effortless for the Yaris.

It’s quiet, too – especially for a four-speed auto, which tend to become rowdy at mid to high revs. Even when accelerating hard up a steep incline, the cabin remains relatively noise-free.

Unfortunately, four-speed automatic transmissions are still very much favoured by the majority of manufacturers in this segment, including Toyota. And while Yaris doesn’t suffer unduly from the overall driving experience, Toyota would do well to follow the lead taken by Volkswagen, which offers a seven-speed DSG transmission on several of its Volkswagen Polo variants. Ford is another exception to the practice, also offering a dual-clutch gearbox (with six speeds) with its Ford Fiesta models.

Toyota Yaris Review
Toyota Yaris Review
Toyota Yaris Review
Toyota Yaris Review

Right from the outset, Toyota was keen to improve the driveability of the third-generation Yaris, with particular attention paid to Australian roads and conditions. That meant increased body rigidity, a larger footprint, more responsive steering and locally tuned suspension settings. The result is a car that is sure-footed enough in the handling department without challenging the most fun city cars to drive, the Fiesta, Polo and Mazda2.

The ride is also an improvement over the previous-generation car, with the Yaris able to comfortably absorb the worst of our local roads.

Previous generations of Yaris were always high on ‘cute appeal’ and were thus heavily skewed towards female buyers. Not so with the latest edition, which falls in line with Toyota’s current corporate face and provides a bolder on-road presence.

The highlights are the deep front and rear bumpers that effectively give Yaris a nice, low stance.

You’ll also notice the tricky single-blade windscreen wiper – (like Mercedes-Benz once employed).

Climb aboard and you’ll immediately notice the fresh design with special attention paid to the look and feel of the plastics. However, there are no soft-touch materials used on the dash, but the mix of textures and colours is nonetheless appealing.

We don’t mind the fabric seats, either; they’re well bolstered and comfortable. The overall driving position has also improved with a lower steering column mount and a three-spoke, thick-rimmed leather steering wheel making for a decidedly sporty feel behind the wheel of the Yaris.

Toyota Yaris Review
Toyota Yaris Review
Toyota Yaris Review
Toyota Yaris Review

The instrument cluster and switchgear is well laid out (unlike on the previous model Yaris) and very clean thanks to integrated touch screen, which controls a variety of functions including satellite navigation and an excellent sound system with what must surely be the fastest responding Bluetooth system we’ve yet to encounter on any model we have tested this year.

Both the YZR and ZR Yaris get live traffic updates via SUNA traffic channel, split screen with 3D graphics and DivX player via USB port.

It might be a member of the light car class, but rear seat leg and headroom is sufficient for adult passengers and there’s room for large feet to slide under the front pews.

The longer wheelbase (up 50mm) has meant an increase in rear cargo space to 286 litres – bigger boot space than that offered by the Fiesta, Mazda2 and Polo. That includes a clever compartment under the cargo floor, helped, however, by the inclusion of a space-saver rather than full-size spare wheel.

While the Yaris misses out on a centre console bin, there are 24 individual storage compartments in the cabin.

There’s no compromise on safety features on board either, with a full suite of active and passive features including seven airbags, vehicle stability control, traction control and anti-lock brakes with brake assist.

Toyota Yaris Review
Toyota Yaris Review

Dynamically, the Toyoya Yaris is still not quite at the same level as it’s main rivals, but as an overall package, with the added benefit of Toyota’s brand strength in reliability, the Yaris presents a strong case in the light car segment.

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Toyota Yaris Review
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  • MisterZed

    I don’t understand the advertising campaign for the Yaris.  Toyota claims it “moves like Jagger” – how is having moves like a 68-year-old a good thing?

    • lucivid

      68 years old and still going strong? How can you beat that?

      • MisterZed

        Actually, with a 1.3L engine, it probably does move like a 68-year-old.

        • JACK HM FORCES vet badge

          Not so ! The Yaris has good power to weight ratio and MP injection to propel my 86kg body through the city traffic , it might be to do with the gear ratios lIt is certainly better than my Mk 1 Cortina which would do 75mph with 1200cc without MFI , but you are not allowed to do 75mph now

      • nickdl

        The 4 speed auto’s about that old!!!

        • MisterZed

          Not really.  Toyota were still using 3-speed automatics up until about 15 years ago in their light sized cars.  Tercel in Japan and the US, and Starlet here…

          • al

            It’s plain silly to buy such a small car in auto. 

          • JACK HM FORCES vet badge

            It is NOT a small car. Most cars are sold with auto. It is the same size as the MK1 Cortina with 50% more power which was sold as a ‘ family car ‘ I can tell you the 1963 MINI was a SMALL car !and in 1970 NSW Police were using MINI COOPERS they were BIG blokes and the Mini Cooper was a small car !

        • JACK HM FORCES vet badge

          I much prefer the 4 speed Yaris auto to the 6 speed Barina

  • Tonyprior71

    Writing ” no dual-clutch auto” is like criticizing the falcon for “no front wheel drive”.
    While toyota should be condemned for still using an old 4 speed auto, a CVT or a dual clutch are both INFERIOR to 6 or 7 speed normal automatics in terms of feel, reliability and servicing costs.
    You are too close to VW !

    • Tee Jay

      Don’t think there will ever be a dual clutch Yaris because most Japanese manufacturers have gone down the path of CVT for their passenger cars so the no dsg complain is not really valid. However, it would be interesting if Toyota could bring in the Multidrive CVT or the 6 speed manual that are available in other countries.

    • SamR

       Exactly!! Praising VW for their DSG which is extremely unreliable compared to a 5 or 6 speed manual and costs $15,000 to replace, costs a bomb to service and service often as well is ludicrous.

      Plus the person who buys a Yaris is not the type of person who buys a Polo.

      • Guest

        Precisely! $130 capped priced servicing for the Toyota Yaris guys vs unlimited prices for the VeeDubs Paw~Lows (as in Ralph Lauren!)

        • Phil

          $260 is the real comparison price you should be using for Toyota. That plus the value you put on the inconvenience of having to take the Toyota in twice as frequently as other cars.

          3-6 month service intervals on Toyotas, 12-24 months on VWs – so you need to at least double the price on a Toyota service to compare.

          • trustic

            Does anyone know how much the average cost of service for the Polo is? Would like to know, as I’m in the market for a small car like this. Appreciate any help. Thanks in advance.

          • Phil

            Why don’t you ring a few VW service centres and get some quotes? It’s really not that hard.

            I don’t know why people get so excited about Toyota’s fixed price services. It’s only for the first 6 services and they have to be serviced at least twice every year. Compared to other cars which only need servicing once a year, it does not work out cheaper.
            Take a look at the Mitsubishi Lancer –  it’s capped pricing is $195 a year and it lasts four years instead of three.

            I don’t know why people bash VW service prices; take a look at Nissans! 6 month service intervals and on a Nissan Micra they cost $233 each with every 4th service costing $400! That’s $466 for the first year and $633 every second year for a little 1.2 litre hatch.

          • 67

            We get it, Nissan and VW are both expensive.

        • super_hans

          These guys test and forget, they’ve got their head in the same as far as long term ownership, maintenance and resale goes

        • bugged

          Let’s not even get started about parts replacement, both in terms of frequency, costs and waiting times.

    • nickdl

      Torque converter autos weigh more and aren’t as efficient as dual clutch boxes. Still, I agree and I’d happily shell out a couple of bucks more in fuel than put up with higher servicing costs.

      The answer? Buy a manual. Cheaper to buy, better performance, more efficient, cheap to fix and a much more enjoyable and rewarding driving experience.

      • 440 R/T Charger

         As long as you are not working anywhere near CBD in this country….

        • kkk

          ???? The highest proportion of manual cars is found in inner city areas!

          • Guest

            That is if you include couriers, security patrols and pizza delivery! All others on auto.

          • kkk

            Nope. There is definately a higher proportion of privately owned manual cars in inner city areas.

      • JooberJCW

        Yet true,

        But one of the target markets is young girls, whether buying it for themselves or being bought lets say for an 18th bday present from parents. Most of the ladies I know have no clue to drive manual.

        I always had a strong feeling that the small/micro market is more driven by aesthetic and comfort appeal rather than the merits of hardware.  People are more inclined to by on looks and comfort bits and pieces e.g. ipod connectivity, vanity lighting etc.

        Either way if they used a DSG or the current older boxes, in my opinion won’t affect sales significantly. even if the engine was producting 90kw or 70kw, 6.1ltr/100 or 6.8ltr/100 either.

        One stat I’d really want to know is how many buyers for small cars actually test drive the car before buying it lets say over a person buying a large or hot hatch.

        • Jack

          I’m a 20 year old male driving a manual and I must say that the majority of friends I know that drive manuals are females. Why? The blokes tend to be taught by their parents in automatics, the girls tend to get taught by instructors in manuals. Not sure why, it’s just the way it appears to be. The guys also tend to inherit a parents car (larger, automatic) whilst girls are brought a new car eg the manual only Barina Spark. 80 per cent of Barina 3 door sales on the previous model were also manual and it’s key demo was women. 

    • Smart Us

       well Polo is a bench mark so – yes they can compare it to it… Dual clutch coz of weigh benefits and application in Polo has a valid point… so yes this car moves like 68 yo man… nothing inspiring… you get only out of some old believe that “it must be good”

  • rentakeyboard

    Standard inoffensive nannas car in other words!

    • Rocket

      Someone has to build cars for all the Nannas. I am sure Grandma does not need a 7 speed DSG gearbox to drive to bingo and the shops. 

  • David

    When wheels magazine did their long term test on the VW Polo DSG it constantly stalled while parking and even in traffic, just after the car was run in, VW had to put in a brand new gearbox.  This is fine for cars with warranty but I have heard of many poor owners just out of warranty with a gearbox problem and it usually cost around $2500 to fix and even some long waiting times occur because Vw doesn’t always have spare DSG gearbox’s in Australia. 

    • nickdl

      Even if you are in warranty, it is incredibly irritating not having a car for a number of weeks and having to take time off work to stuff around with the dealer.

  • Randall

    The author must be either paid by VW or is just a simple fun-boy of the brand. Who else in their mind would state as a negative that a car does not have a dual clutch auto and that it does not have the “class” of Polo cabin..? It puts the credibility of Caradvice in the spotlight here. I’d really want to know how can this be published in a semi-serious article. A true negative would be something that is “bad” for the buyer – I’d understand if the author mentioned that 4-speed auto is lacking a gear or two or that it is not shifting smoothly etc.. but simply saying that if it’s not like Polo then it’s no good makes the whole review a joke.

    • Qui

      That 4-speed shifts smoother then DSG 😉

      DSG are not known for seamless shifts..

      • Randall

        Yes, agree. I meant to say that the author should mention something what was “wrong” with this car (ie something bad for a potential buyer). Instead he just sang praises about Polo. I’m glad that the Yaris actually does not come with a DSG, though a 5-speed box would be welcomed. 

    • Hung Low

      What VAG Advice fail to recognise is that entry price motoring means cheap running cost in turn meaning high reliability. It is the basic design brief of these cars that journos dismiss. I was behind the wheel of a week old dsg vehicle that had issues with upshifting and erractic gear changes in automatic mode. They are vastly overated gearboxes for passenger cars. You even need to sign a waiver at certain Vag service specialist to exclude themselves to any dsg issues….yet you have the one eyed fan boys bleating another tune.

  • Sumpguard

       The company I work for own a fleet of the previous model and whilst  I wouldn’t own one it is difficult not to be impressed at just how bullet proof they are considering the punishment they get by the staff.

        For a simply run down the shop hatch they are hard to beat. You just don’t buy them as a driver’s car. Even the manual is breathless at 110km/h in 5th gear. They are a city car and in that sense they excel.

    • Sumpguard

         I might add though that the previous model had the offset odomoter and a glovebox above the steering wheel and toyota marketed the car for it’s “small car with big ideas” attributes but oddly has now moved away from that.

      • nickdl

        They had bad feedback about the old instruments. People complained of the inaccuracy of the fuel level indicator as it only had 8 bars. A lot of people ran out of fuel, thinking they still had a fair distance till empty.

      • Huluplus

        People don’t like things that are too bold or different?

        • John

           Maybe it has nothing to do with being bold and different. Maybe people just don’t like things that don’t really work well, and that the manufacturer only used to help reduce their manufacturing costs.

          That central instrument pod in the old Yaris was nowhere near as usable as having the dashboard directly in front of the driver.

          Kudos to Toyota for finally ditching the old Yaris dashboard.

      • James

        It’s was great with the compartment above the steering wheel I owned a 2007 yaris and the center dash was the best thing about it, very sad that they gone away from it, it now means there is nothing special about this car!

    • Jerrycan

      I don’t get how you can say they are breathless as the very reliable old manual 1.3 Echo we have is very happy at the 110 speed limit at less than half max revs.
      And the VVTI system works well when more revs are required in a lower gear up a hill.
      That is what the gearbox is for after all.

      • Thrillhouse

        You do realize that the Echo and the Australian Yaris are 2 different cars, right?

        • Jerrycan

          The original Yaris was marketed as the Echo in Australia. Our Echo is 8 years old. The name was changed to Yaris on the first major revision.
          The Yaris in this review is the 3rd interation of the type but the basic engine/gearbox combinations have changed little over the years.
          So they are different but not that different.

  • Sam

    Meh..another appliance produced by Toyota. No soul, no passion. Just another appliance. Wouldn’t touch one with a 100 ft pole.

    • Rocket

      Many people just want a reliable appliance so Toyota satisfy this need in most of their models. What is the point of a potentially troublesome DSG gearbox and supercharged, turbocharged stressed engines if one never leaves the suburbs.

    • Jerrycan

      They are not that bad, the Yaris is more entertaining to drive than a Hyundai Getz.
      I suspect that if your ‘soul and passion filled’ car broke down in the rain you would accept a lift from a passing Yaris.Anyway logically you could not lift the end of a 100 foot pole.

  • Guest

    Most Yaris owners I spoke do didn’t know how many gears their cars had, or how to force the car into lower gears for hill climbs. Toyota didn’t even bother putting the instruments infront of the driver, because the typical Yaris driver doesn’t look at them.

    One even drove round on highbeams for a year before I pointed out what that blue light meant. 

    • fj

      Trust me, Yaris drivers are not the only ones. lol

  • Sherwin

    This car isn’t targeted at people understand cars or like cars, or really have any interest in cars. This car is for those who like say, a small car, that’s reliable, looks decent, and gets them from A to B. I say, that this car is quite appropriate for that category. 

    • Tee Jay

       but probably designed and built by people who really understand cars, and people.

      • igloo

        I guess that’s why these sell like hotcakes.

  • JamesB

    It’s simply yesterday’s mechanicals with a new wrapper. Toyota would do better adding extra power and at least one gear on the transmissions.

  • Smart Us

    the car looks ugly like anything ugly… and 4 speed auto… are you for real…

  • Styler

    If this is a so called city car, where is the engine start / stop function. Find it hard to believe that a 2012 model comes without this and only a four speed auto. I have a 2005 Honda Jazz with the CVT auto ( with 7 speed mode ) that averages just over 6 litres per 100k and has heaps more room. Don’t think I will be “updating” any time soon.

    • Lfd

      Well, we’re glad you’re happy with your Jazz.

  • Phuong

    The Yaris already look and feel dated. The interior is really boring and not really imbuing it with any sense of fun or quality.
    The outside is a replica of the last model but with a after market looking front end. when a Rio is more attractive and offer more useful modern tech, Yaris just look mean and thrifty.

  • abc

    very basic and bland car….  mazda 2 looks better…

  • Doblekara

    hey guys can anyone give me an advice, i’m thinking of buying a new (or used) car $18,000 max, i’m looking at a 2008 lancer vr-x with 43,000 kms ($17,000), 2010 lancer ES Activ with 15,000kms ($18,000), or new Kia Rio 1.4 auto, or even this yaris (base model), what do you think? any other suggestions? thanks in advance

    • Jerrycan

      Have a drive in each first.
      Certainly bit more performance and space in the Lancer options and with 1 to 3 years outstanding warranties on each you don’t have to buy from a dealer (check servicing records though).
      Kia has 5 year warranty and Yaris (3 year) will retain value better when you sell because of perceived (and mostly actual) reliability. Both are relatively slow in auto versions though.

  • Sarah

    As someone who has recently purchased a new car I can tell you I sat in the yaris and it honestly just didn’t feel comfortable to me, the seat made it an annoying ride unfortunately. I only test drove 3 cars, mazda 2, suzuki swift and the yaris and made up my mind almost instantly that the yaris wasn’t for me, the swift wasn’t either and I ended up going with the mazda 2. In saying that, I am completely happy with the mazda I purchased and wouldnt change it for anything (maybe the upgrade that will be coming out) but in saying that our company uses corolla’s and has recently aquired 2 yaris’ to trial and even though I get to drive it, it still doesn’t make me feel any more comfortable driving it, as soon as you take your foot off the brake and put it on the accelerator (auto) it chugs forward (stumbles) like it isn’t sure if you have really put your foot down on the accelerator. The boot space I don’t believe is anything to boast about, it is still small compaired to a fiesta or 2 similiar variant. The multiple compartments I will grant are great, it’s nice to have my water bottle on the right hand just within reach, the fact that there is no button to move the selecter on the transmission also makes it easier but that is really as good as it gets. But each to their own

  • Headbangerm8

    Good we car for the busy streets of sydney,bris ect

  • Brad

    Just bought a factory ordered Toyota Yaris YRX in Ink 4 days ago=)

    Awesome car- If you can afford the YRX ($25,500 drive away approximately) GET IT!

    I drove every car in it’s class & the one above practically & NOTHING came close to the amazing build quality and attention to detail that you find in the Yaris.

    The car rides high off the ground with little overhangs so that you never scrape on steep driveways or bottom-out over speed bumps/pot holes, the suspension soaks up the harshest of bumps as well whilst delivery great control & road holding (The Bridgestone Ecopias are grippy and very quiet even at high way speeds).

    Love the high performance single blade windscreen wiper – An extremely wide clean streak free sweep =)

    It has the largest window area of any I tested and still scored 5/5 safety including the drivers knee airbag – all the other cars had uncomfortably small window areas & high waistlines. 

    Only car that had room for 3 adults in the back & a huge boot with a secondary security compartment big enough for a medium sized suitcase.

    Everything is light, easy & soft touch – most intuitive controls around with a great quality audio system & T.E.C.H 6.1″ command centre.

    The fact that the Yaris is made in Japan is a golden seal of approval of reliability for many years to come – Look at the Golf & Polo – made in South Africa by underpaid Africans, you’re buying a WHOLE lot of trouble there – just google their reliability from JD POwers & the servicing costs which are astronomical: I love the $130 fixed priced Toyota servicing also!

    • Leechuching

      I have one for a year and I will say that it make a perfect city run around. The initial perception that it will have small interior and underpower has prove me wrong. The car can fit in four adults comfortably and still keep pace with a V6 in traffic light. It has the realiability of any Toyota and there is no break down or fault to date. It make a perfect car to commute to work, send the kid to school and grocery shopping. It make sense and I have not discounted any comfort with a bigger car. A full tank is less than $40 and it will put a smile at the pump.

  • beep beep

    Great looking car !! But really no power for over taking !! When is a car company going to make a 2lt engine in a small car ???!! There are other people who like a bit of grunt , but still want a small size car in this price range come on !!

  • Michael

    My sisters CVT Colt is approaching 500,000 Kms and is still going strong. Much more reliable, lower maintenance and efficient than a traditional 4 speed transmission (most die some time under 300,000). Toyota knows this because their Prius’ are likewise getting excellent lifespan out of the CVT’s… so when does the Yaris get one?

  • JACK HM FORCES vet badge

    I own a Yaris, Mazda2 & Barina and I rate them 1. Yaris, 2. Barina, 3. Mazda. The Yaris is the best drive and fits my size 13 feet also I much prefer the 4 speed auto, better dials than the Mazda and a lot better room/storage at the back of the Yaris BUT rate the dealers 1. Holden. 2. Mazda and last Toyota

  • dave_13

    it sucks on inclines…cabin gets noisy and car drags like 70yr old

Toyota Yaris Specs

Car Details
Body Type
New Price
Private Sale
$12,100 - $13,750
Dealer Retail
$13,510 - $16,060
Dealer Trade
$9,600 - $11,000
Engine Specifications
Engine Type
Engine Size
Max. Torque
141Nm @  4200rpm
Max. Power
80kW @  6000rpm
Pwr:Wgt Ratio
Bore & Stroke
Compression Ratio
Valve Gear
Drivetrain Specifications
Drive Type
Final Drive Ratio
Fuel Specifications
Fuel Type
Fuel Tank Capacity
Fuel Consumption (Combined)
6.3L / 100km
Weight & Measurement
Kerb Weight
Gross Vehicle Weight
Not Provided
Ground Clearance
Towing Capacity
Brake:900  Unbrake:550
Steering & Suspension
Steering Type
Turning Circle
Front Rim Size
Rear Rim Size
Front Tyres
175/65 R15
Rear Tyres
175/65 R15
Wheel Base
Front Track
Rear Track
Front Brakes
Rear Brakes
Front Suspension
MacPherson strut, Coil Spring, Gas damper, Anti roll bar
Rear Suspension
Torsion bar, Coil Spring, Gas damper, Anti roll bar
Standard Features
Control & Handling
Traction Control System
Trip Computer
Side Front Air Bags
Optional Features
Metallic Paint
Service Interval
6 months /  10,000 kms
36 months /  100,000 kms
VIN Plate Location
Driver Side Front Floor
Country of Origin