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  • Quirky design; nimble handling; perky performance
  • Quirky design; no side or curtain airbags

6 / 10

Toyota Yaris Review & Road Test
Toyota Yaris Review & Road Test
by Nadine Armstrong

Small package; big personality

Model Tested:

  • 2009 Toyota NCP91R Yaris YRX; 1.5-litre, four-cylinder, petrol; four-speed automatic; three-door hatch – $21,490*

CarAdvice Rating:

It’s true, good things do come in small packages. Packed with a raft of features as standard, the Toyota Yaris YRX punches well above its weight.

In a segment that sees around 18 models vying for attention, the Toyota Yaris YRX is well worth some investigation.

The YRX is the top of the Yaris model line-up and while we tested the three-door model, a five-door hatch is also available. Front and rear spoilers, fog lights, side skirts and 15-inch alloys add a dash of spunk to the standard looks of the Yaris base model.

The 1.5-litre engine is well suited to this bite-sized car, delivering a perky dose of power and pace, with 80kW and 141Nm at hand.

The four-speed auto in our test vehicle performed beautifully around town as well as on freeway hauls. The engine sets a great tempo and maintains its composure through uphill acceleration.

Toyota Yaris Review & Road Test
Toyota Yaris Review & Road Test
Toyota Yaris Review & Road Test
Toyota Yaris Review & Road Test

The steering of the Yaris is confident, direct and quite composed – almost playful in its handling, which makes light work of tight corners. Needless to say, parking the Yaris is a breeze.

Priced at $21,490* (plus dealer and on-road costs), the Yaris YRX is at the top end of the light car price list, but it’s packed with enough options as standard to justify the price tag.

Despite its modest proportions, the Yaris delivers a comfortable ride for all passengers, absorbing bumps and speed humps with the greatest of ease. In a recent light car comparison, the Yaris was voted above its competitors to provide the best ride comfort for passengers. Although it does cater for five passengers, including head rests and lap sash belts all round, I wouldn’t want to be sitting three-up in the second row; its bench style seating is very tight.

The Yaris has MacPherson strut front and torsion beam rear suspension, which produces pleasing ride quality and handling. Inside, only a small amount of road and engine noise can be heard. And at just 1045kg in weight, the Yaris manages to sit quite firmly on the road.

The cabin ergonomics, durability, comfort and fit-out of the Yaris YRX are all of a good standard and splashes of chrome lift the tone of this mostly plastic interior considerably. The sporty exterior looks of the Yaris YRX compliment its interesting, modern interior design which seems to leave opinions divided – somewhere between love and hate. However, in a segment that features some fairly bland, plastic interiors, the Yaris brings a unique, quirky design to the table. The big, centre-mounted digital display is the key focus, leaving the driver without the usual instrumentation cluster behind the wheel. It is however a point of difference, setting it apart from – some would argue well above – the dated interiors of several of its competitors.

Toyota Yaris Review & Road Test
Toyota Yaris Review & Road Test
Toyota Yaris Review & Road Test
Toyota Yaris Review & Road Test

The driving position is very comfortable, made easier by the both fact that the Yaris has both tilt and telescopic adjustments for the steering column. Visibility is great and maneuverability is effortless thanks in part to the nimble steering of the Yaris.

Despite its diminishing proportions, the Yaris is to be commended for not only its comfort, but for its versatility. It held its own on a trip to both Bunnings and BBQs Galore, packed with garden supplies and a full sized garden umbrella! I was impressed just how much you could fit into the Yaris when the seats are folded flat. It was by no means ideal or comfortable for the three occupants, but nonetheless doable.

For smaller everyday items, the Yaris offers a fantastic range of in-cabin storage options, about 20 at count, with every spare inch of space housing a storage spot of some kind.

Other features as standard include; steering-wheel-mounted audio controls and auxiliary input, keyless entry and remote locking, power windows and mirrors.

In a segment that achieves some fairly frugal fuel economy, the Yaris sits about middle of the road, delivering 9.1L/100km on our test route. CO2 emissions come in at 160g/km.

Safety features of the Yaris YRX include front airbags, anti-lock brakes, electronic brakeforce distribution and brake assist which contribute to the Yaris receiving a four-star rating from ANCAP. Disappointingly, the Yaris YRX three-door does not have side or curtain airbags or stability control as standard.

Toyota Yaris Review & Road Test

The Yaris does sit among the top selling models in this light car segment, however the competition is tough. Rivals such as the Mazda2 and Ford Fiesta put forward an equally impressive value proposition and marginally better drive dynamics, but the unique character of the Yaris YRX makes it an interesting battle for buyers.


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  • Tony

    9.1/100 doesn’t sound so great for a 1 ton car with a 1.5 toy motor

    but you don’t say how new the motor is so maybe it’s been run in?

    $21k is pretty savage for a toy car too… probably would go the Suzuki Swift S instead or Fiesta… in manual

    4 spd autos in tiny cars is always losing.

    • Simon

      Bingo. 9.1L/100km is very ordinary. I was shocked to read it’s that high. Was expecting sub-8.

      • Tony

        to be fair i don’t know if the motor is like 1,500km on the clock, 4 people aboard in 42 degree heat with the air con up a hill… 9.1 per 100 is reasonable there

    • RD

      it’s pretty horrible actually, a 1.6L Getz will do about 6.5 – 7 L/100km, pick up your game Toyo!

  • Toyota Guru

    Nadine, bit of a problem here. You say: “Disappointingly, the Yaris YRX three-door does not have side or curtain airbags or stability control as standard.”

    You failed to mention that side and curtain airbags are a factory option. Also, stability control is standard from August ‘09 production onwards for all YRS and YRX models.

    • Grammar Nazi

      Toyota Guru/Disgruntled dealer,

      Factory option does not mean standard, so yes, that is disappointing.

    • Hung Low

      Toyota Guru You are an idiot!

      • Toyota Guru

        As per usual Hung Low, full of dumb comments.

  • Yaris Owner

    9.1L/100km???? I’m getting 6.5L/100km in a manual sedan (with some enthusiastic driving), wouldn’t have expected a 40% difference!!

    Also I’m pretty sure you can get the side and curtain airbags fitted as an option for about $750. If one is keen, they can try get the dealer to throw them in to sweeten the deal.

    Yaris has been out since 2005 so a new model line up should be due sometime next year for people who don’t mind the wait. Alternatively be expecting pretty good deals as the model runs out.

    • Rhubarb

      Car Advice got crazy high fuel figures out of the Barina too, as I recall.
      What gives?

  • stifler

    9.1 !!!

    For me thats such a deal breaker…Thanks CA for this review, i was actually looking for a run around car for my wifey and had a list of cars to choose from that i thought would be a frugal on fuel….based on your review, and our family’s needs,
    the Toyota Yaris shouldnt be in our list of fuel savers. 9.1? i might as well go for a 2.4 engine then, at least it will give extra power and space. Again, thanks for making our choices easier.

  • crouchy

    Personally, I would not put Yaris and Quirky Design in the same sentence…

  • milobob

    9.1? Where were you driving? I bet my car will consume 12L/100k on the same route 😛

  • johnh

    Looking from the photos this vehicle is a pre August production vehicle which isn’t fitted with the new standard upgraded sound system

  • bob

    Wow, I rented a Corolla last year, thrashed the crap out of it for about 800km over a week. And still managed in the 7~8 L/100km range.

    Were you towing a trailer full of sand?

  • Mitch

    CA, how can quirky design be both Plus and Minus

    • Enzo

      That’s the definition of quirky.

      • Baddass

        But you can’t say it is good and bad without giving your reasoning. The only reference I saw to the looks was ‘its sporty exterior’. And then you put 4-stars for How does it look! It makes no sense!

    • Martin

      I think because from a style stand point, its all in the eyes of the beholder. One cant say a car is ugly, because it maybe beautiful to someone else.

  • GranmaEcho

    I drive an 05 Echo 1.5 auto to work. I do 70km per day. I never get worse than 6.5l/100km. Nadine must be a lead foot.

  • Yianni

    Small cars like the Yaris stop making sense at a certain price point. $21.500 + onroads for a Yaris is just ridiculous.

    Add to the the pathetic fuel consumption of 9.1l/100km in the real world and the whole package is a let down.

  • G

    I would take a Swift over this any day.

    • Hung Low


  • Chucky

    9.1L? I drove a swift sport 1.6 (with spirited Drive) and managed 7.0L. I think there is something wrong with 9.1L. Surely it would not be that high.

  • Toyotasalesman

    Next time you testdrive a car for ecomomy release the handbrake …! I sell Toyota’ and am currently in a YRX Sedan Auto which i flog the daylights out of and it gets over 550 kays out of it’s 42 Litre tank so that’s around 7.8l/100km and it’s the larger slightly heavier model . 6.7 is the official combined average with 8.7 urban and 5.7 extra urban. You guys must be massive lead foots. Love the site though – keep it up.

    • Mazdaman

      Makes a nice change to see a poster on here who is honest enough to be up front about being a car salesman. And you’ve only put forward a couple good points about your brand, you don’t waffle on spewing venom (&B***S***) about opposition products. It’s worth the time to read the comment
      I bet you are good at selling.

  • Baddass

    I like the new tail lights, that got rid of that foul pink from the old model.

  • Ken

    $21,000 + ORC for a 1.5L (80kW) 4 speed auto? This small car should be no more than $18,000 on road with the base model starting at $16,000 on road. Toyota are just too expensive lately.

  • SamR

    The price of the Yaris seems very high but I would like to make a few points.

    1. Who would want all those skirts and things? buy the mid model in manual and save a fortune.

    2. Who in his right mind would buy a Toyota at the full retail price? You should be able to get two to three thousand off EASY

    3. The current Yaris is an very old model compared to the Mazda 2 and Fiesta. I believe a brand new Yaris is due next year.

  • Stevos

    How on earth can you get 9.1 when heavier auto 1.8 Corollas do 8.5L?

  • filippo

    Why anyone under the age of 70 would buy a 1.5 litre car with automatic transmission is completely beyond me.

    • Karl

      Ignorance I guess…….

    • http://dodge franz chong

      Because not all of us can drive a manual transmission car with a 1.5 Litre Engine.I am 32 going on 33 and going from a 1.8 Litre Tiida down to a 1.4 Litre Micra shortly as I needed a more suitable car for work purposes and it is an automatic as that is the only transmission Nissan Provides for their Yaris Equivalent.

  • FormerEchoDriver

    The Yaris was formerly known as the toyota Echo.

    The 1.5l engine has not changed since introduction in 99.
    Same power output (80KW) and I believe the same transmission.

    I can vouch for the 1999 4 door 1.5 auto echo sedan, it has given my family over 245,000 km of rock solid reliability. Although recently it has lost some power. This car has been “the backup” for 5 people and even performed as a tradies van, a musicians transport.

    Its small but roomy, the backseat can seat a 42 inch tv, due to the high roofline!

    Although the echo was never a pretty car, the new yaris is a big improvement.

    Petrol consumption around 6.5 l /100km.
    Although this does go up with the aircon usage.

  • Minnow

    Nadine, did you take it out on a freeway? When i drove a 3 door Yaris i found it to be quite noisy at the A-Pillar, allowing in a lot of wind noise. Combined with the noise of the high revving motor at 100 of which i would forgive if it actually had some guts, I found it to be very annoying. I had to turn up the rubbish stereo just to cover up the noise. All up the experience wasn’t particularly pleasing for a 2month old car. Felt like abandoning it and using the train to get home. I haven’t driven many small cars but if a lot of them are like this, people must have a very high tolerance for cr@p.

  • MJ

    I hate the speedo in the middle! :-(

  • realcars

    Crazy,U can get a vr Lancer on the road for this money!

    I agree for something this small the Swift is the winner!

  • Safety Frist

    Just drove the Econetic Fiesta, $24,990 drive away at present. This is the car to buy! Sure it’s an economy biased car, but if you change gears at the shift indicator designated point, by the time you hit fourth you are doing 100km/h and comfortably… 3.7l/100km fun to drive (noisy tyres though low Roll Resist) and Surprisingly quick (comparative). Try it.

    • Hung Low

      24k gets you into a larger I30 CW diesel!
      The Fiesta is a top little car but the eco model premium is had to justify!
      Hell is hard to justify any more than $15k for this Yaris pizza delivery mobile!

      • Tom21

        Depends, the diesel fiesta is hardly a eco model. The turbo diesel is actually the pick of the performance bunch too. Its mostly the tires that class it as the ‘economical’ of the fiesta range. A fiesta is light years ahead of this dreary bland yaris, its well worth a few more thousand for half the fuel usage too!

        • Karl

          It also has different transmission ratios and better aerodynamics.

  • poohbear

    Safety Frist is a Ford Salesman for anyone new to the comments/defactosalesmanadvertorial section of this website: At $24990 how could that possibly be considered ‘economy biased’?
    If I was buying a small car, i’d want to pay maximum of $18000 driveaway. Excellent economy no doubt, but would take ages to pay for itself…therefor hard to justify the admission price. $14000 driveaway for a Barina/Getz etc that’s $11000 worth of petrol…?

    • filippo

      Hey poohbear, comparing the Fiesta to a Mazda 2 or Honda Jazz is ok, but comparing it to a Barina or Getz is like comparing a house to a tent.

  • Tom21

    What a drearingly awful car, anyway who pays 20 grand for that is literally insane.

    And 9.1L/100km? A base Commodore should come close to matching that. Carrying around an additional 600kg with an engine twice the size.

  • Jake02

    Fiesta Zetec manual please (Y)
    Much better in every area (Apart from practicality as the seats don’t fold anywhere near flat but you don’t buy a small car to carry tonnes of crap in the back do you? Its always gonna be limiting). Performance (even 1.4L auto would be quicker than this yaris auto, it has a fully manual mode too), economy, interior (the Fiesta actually uses soft-touch plastics on the dash!), equipment (7 airbags standard on the Zetec), styling (well duh…the Fiesta isn’t boring to look at) and quality. Maybe the Toyota’s reliability might be better, but thats all Toyotas are good for these days…xD

  • Model T

    Our city runabout is a 1.3 automatic 5 dr Yaris. It is perfectly adequate for its intended purpose – it’s reliable, reasonably frugal (around 7 l/100 km in city traffic), and it’s practical. A new set of Pirelli P6 tyres transformed the car’s ride and interior noise levels. It will not beat any speed records, but it wasn’t bought for that purpose. I certainly wouldn’t pay what Toyota are asking (and I didn’t), so if you can get a good deal and it fits the bill, go for it. You’ll get a decent car that does what it’s intended to do quite well. Having said that, the new Mazda 2 and newer Fiesta seem to be just a little bit better – but they were not around two and a half years ago when we bought the Yaris. But we’re splitting hairs here. It’s the only Toyota I would even consider.

  • tim

    I really like the look of Yaris sedan, but its price is shamefuly high.

  • James

    There really good i love Toyota.

  • Yaris is best small car

    This review is wrong about lots of stuff.

    I get 5L per 100km on freeway on my YRX Yaris 5 door manual.

    Maybe hoons shouldn’t review cars

Toyota Yaris Specs

Car Details
Body Type
New Price
Private Sale
$7,480 - $8,500
Dealer Retail
$8,880 - $10,560
Dealer Trade
$5,800 - $6,800
Engine Specifications
Engine Type
Engine Size
Max. Torque
121Nm @  4400rpm
Max. Power
63kW @  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)
6.5L / 100km
Weight & Measurement
Kerb Weight
Gross Vehicle Weight
Not Provided
Ground Clearance
Towing Capacity
Brake:1050  Unbrake:550
Steering & Suspension
Steering Type
Turning Circle
Front Rim Size
Rear Rim Size
Front Tyres
185/60 R15
Rear Tyres
185/60 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, Trailing arm, Gas damper, Coil Spring
Standard Features
Air Conditioning
Control & Handling
15 Inch Alloy Wheels, Electronic Brake Force Distribution
Power Steering
CD with 6 CD Stacker, Radio CD with 4 Speakers
Fog Lights - Front, Power Mirrors
Power Windows
Dual Airbag Package, Anti-lock Braking
Central Locking Remote Control, Engine Immobiliser
Optional Features
Metallic Paint
Safety Pack
Service Interval
6 months /  10,000 kms
36 months /  100,000 kms
VIN Plate Location
Driver Side Front Floor
Country of Origin