2010 Toyota Yaris Review and Prices

Last Updated: Aug 5, 2011

Pros

  • Fuel economy
  • Easy to park, and hatchbacks are easy to pack
  • Impressive range of standard safety features

Cons

  • Yaris is not included in the uninended-acceration recalls, but resale value could be tarred by the same brush
  • Bizarro dashboard and tight rear-seat room
  • Many basic conveniences cost extra

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2010 Toyota Yaris Buying Advice

The 2010 Toyota Yaris is the best car for you if you want a frugal subcompact and realize a low base price means some extras are going to cost…well…extra.

Happily, Yaris was not among Toyotas recalled to address reports of unintended acceleration. Yaris is among the Toyotas slated to receive an electronic brake-override system that cuts engine power in case of simultaneous application of both the accelerator and brake pedals. Toyota was phasing the system into production during 2010. Don’t purchase a new 2010 Yaris without verifying it has brake-override. Toyota says all its 2011 models, including the 2011 Yaris will have the system.

Welcome to the bargain bin, where conveniences you use all the time -- remote keyless entry, power windows and locks and mirrors -- are options. Pricey ones, at that. Yaris isn’t alone among entry-level cars in relegating these sorts of features to the options list. Just be ready to shell out as much as $1,600 or so if you want them.

Should you buy a 2010 Toyota Yaris or wait for the 2011 Toyota Yaris? Go for the 2010. The 2011 Yaris won’t get any substantive changes, so there’s no compelling reason to wait for it. As long as the 2010 Yaris you buy has the brake-override system, there’s little reason to wait for the 2011. Other than that, no significant changes to the 2011 Yaris are likely. And with Yaris due a full redesign for model-year 2012, scoring a 2010 gives you a car that won’t be outdated quite so quickly and should carry attractive discounts as Toyota tries to make up for sales lost during the recall. The best way to get the full value from either a 2010 or 2011 Yaris would be to keep it for more than five years or so -- beyond the point at which resale prices would be tarnished by the unintended acceleration controversy.

2010 Toyota Yaris Changes back to top

Styling: The 2010 Yaris is Toyota’s smallest and least-expensive car – at least until the even tinier iQ squirts out of Toyota’s Scion division as a 2011 or ’12 model. The Yaris continues for 2010 with three body styles: a two-door hatchback, a four-door hatchback, and a conventional four-door sedan. Actually, there’s little conventional about any Yaris body style. All three look like variously shaped potatoes on wheels. The oddest is the two-door hatch, a balled-up little spud just a shade over 12 feet long. The four-door hatchback is actually the same length, but is better proportioned thanks to its wagon-like roofline. Despite a stubby nose and tail, the Yaris sedan is almost mainstream in appearance. Its wheelbase is 3.5 inches longer than the hatchbacks’. That’s a significant stretch in automotive terms and nearly elevates the sedan from the subcompact class to the compact segment. The sedan’s body is more than a foot-and-a-half longer than its hatchback stablemates’, too. But it’s the wheelbase that’s noteworthy because this span between the front and rear axles is key to passenger space, particularly leg room. The Yaris sedan has about two inches more leg room, front and rear, than the Yaris hatchbacks.

Mechanical: Yaris continues for 2010 with a 106-horsepower four-cylinder engine teamed with a five-speed manual transmission or a four-speed automatic. The engine and transmission are bunched in the nose, over the wheels that propel the car. This front-wheel-drive arrangement enhances traction in slippery conditions. Like many entry-level cars, Yaris cuts costs with front-disc/rear-drum brakes rather and four-wheel discs. But Toyota has been increasingly generous with standard safety features on the Yaris. For model-year 2009 it made an antilock brake system (ABS) standard for better control in emergency stops; ABS had been a $258 option. For 2010, it adds to the standard equipment list two safety features previously unavailable on the Yaris. The first is an antiskid system, also known as electronic stability control. This important technology fights sideways slides by automatically applying individual brakes and modulating engine power. The second is traction control, which regulates tire slip on takeoffs and is useful in rain or snow.

Features: All three body styles of the 2010 Toyota Yaris are available in Base and better-equipped S-model trim. A few of the low-priced cars with which they compete, such as the Honda Fit, are available with factory-installed navigation systems. And Ford’s Microsoft-developed Sync system of phone and infotainment connectivity helps it sell a lot of Focuses. No such tech treats on the Yaris menu; the Yaris Base models don’t even come with an audio system. And no Yaris offers USB connectivity for iPods or other digital devices, though an auxiliary jack is available. Sunroof? No luck. Heated seats or leather upholstery? You’re kidding. To be fair, torso-protecting front side airbags and head-protecting curtain side airbags for both seating rows were made standard instead of optional for the 2009 model year as part of the safety-feature upgrades. And air conditioning and a tilt steering wheel are included in the base price of any Yaris. But Toyota gets picky after that; a height-adjustable driver’s seat is standard only on sedans, for example. And depending on model, you’ll pay extra for basics like a rear-window defogger.

2010 Toyota Yaris Test Drive back to top

From behind the wheel: High performance isn’t on Yaris’s to-do list, but this little car can get out of its own way with minimal drama. Better yet, it negotiates city and suburban traffic with a measure of stability and refinement that belies its lean price and light weight. Indeed, a low fat content is the secret to its agility. No Yaris tips the scales at more than 2,300 pounds. To get a lighter car, you’d have to resort to the wacky Smart ForTwo, but then you couldn’t carry more than two people.

Few cars beat a Yaris at flitting through the urban landscape or fitting into a parking space. But this is more than just a city car. On the open road at a moderate pace, the Yaris happily goes where you point it, rewarding your hand with accurate steering and your foot with good brake control. Swift turns will send it drifting wide as you approach the traction limits of its narrow tires, but the effect is progressive and easily managed. More attention is required in blustery crosswinds or at speeds above 60 mph or so. In these conditions, Yaris’s steering may require lots of attention to maintain a heading.

No subcompact that chases low prices and high mileage is fast. Most in fact are slower than the Yaris. But while Yaris never feels critically underpowered, you do have to force-feed the throttle to accelerate with any sense of urgency. And merging with free-flowing highway traffic, or passing it, is less stressful when you build in a cushion of time and space. It’s also mitigated some if you’re handy with a manual transmission, which here invites quick, second-nature shifting.

Dashboard and controls: Yaris’s size suits it for sale in many countries. Unfortunate evidence of this intercontinental appeal is a dashboard easily adapted to left- or right-hand drive; the Toyota assembly line merely relocates the steering wheel to the appropriate side. It’s an efficient piece of engineering but a little disconcerting to the driver, who faces a wheel that sprouts incongruously from an expanse of barren dashboard. The speedometer, clock, fuel-level readout, and a few other data bits live in a little cove atop the center of the dashboard. (This cove may also contain a tachometer, depending on your choice of transmission and trim level.)

True, the cove is roughly at eye level, but it’s so far center as to demand a serious look away from the road to read. It’s canted neither left nor right, either, no driver – no matter which side of the car they’re on -- feels any individual attention. The half-arc speedometer and tachometer are at least clearly presented. But the small digital display of fuel and other data has insufficient contrast to be easily read. Things are better below the cove, where the audio system and a trio of simple climate knobs are stacked along a graceful spine. Here, the centered theme works quite well and the controls are easily accessed by driver or front passenger.

If the dashboard layout is alien, it’s also a model of simplicity, a virtue present throughout Yaris’s cabin. Yes, the door shells and dash coverings are of lightweight vinyl. And padding is largely confined to the steering wheel and seats. But nicely grained, matte-finish surfaces and precise panel gaps impart a feeling of smart, substantive design lacking in a long list of competitors.

Room, comfort, and utility: Every Yaris has seatbelts for five, but four occupants is the practical limit. They fit reasonably well thanks to arched roofs that allow you to sit upright on chair-like seats. Tall occupants will find best head room in the hatchbacks, though the sedan compensates with its height-adjustable driver’s seat. There’s just no getting past these cars’ short wheelbase, however. The long of leg can’t really stretch-out anywhere, and few adults will have enough knee room in back unless the front passengers slide well forward. Rear comfort is best in the sedan or the S four-door hatchback equipped with the sliding and reclining back seat. In any Yaris, the driving position tends to be arms-out/legs-in by virtue of a steering wheel mounted far ahead and pedals situated well back.

No one will be jostled by bumpy roads, however. Yaris is a paragon of tiny-car compliance. Maybe it’s from requiring enough suspension elasticity to negotiate Nepalese yak trails. But Yaris is solid and absorbent on the cratered streets of Cleveland, too.

The obvious choice for cargo carrying is one of the hatchbacks. Both the two- and four-door versions can swallow a substantial 25.7 cubic feet of stuff, quite good considering these cars are just twelve-and-a-half feet long. The rear seatbacks fold hassle-free to create a flat load platform. With them up, the hatchbacks have room for a single row of grocery bags. The Yaris sedan’s trunk is about average in size for the subcompact class, but a stingy opening and intrusive lid hinges detract from its utility. Yaris’s cabin offers plenty of opportunity to stash small items. A double-tiered glovebox is a highlight. And plastic grottos along side the center dashboard spine are handy, though they lack any sort of grippy lining to prevent contents from sliding about – or even out.   

2010 Toyota Yaris Prices back to top

The 2010 Toyota Yaris prices range from $13,105 to $16,025, before options. Special bare-bones versions of the Hyundai Accent and Nissan Versa are available down around $11,000, but those publicity stunts aside, 2010 Yaris starting prices look pretty good against the subcompact field. That’s especially true given the standard safety equipment. Once you begin to add convenience options, however, the competitive picture complicates. This is the entry-level class, remember, where it’s wise to keep focused on a car’s fuel economy, reliability, and other considerations paramount when saving pennies is a priority. You may even conclude it’s better to spend your money on a larger, late-model used car than on one of these pint-sized new ones.      

The 2010 Toyota Yaris base prices increase a modest $150 over model-year 2009. Like all prices in this review, Yaris’s include the manufacturers’ mandated destination fee. Toyota’s destination fee for cars is $750 for 2010, up from $720 in 2009. Note that Toyotas sold in some Southeastern and Gulf states are delivered by independent distributors and may carry different destination fees.

The 2010 Toyota Yaris two-door hatchback in Base trim is priced from $13,105 with manual transmission and from $13,905 with automatic. The 2010 Yaris Base-model four-door hatchback comes only with automatic transmission and starts at $14,205. The 2010 Yaris sedan Base model is priced from $13,865 with manual transmission, $14,665 with automatic.

Step up to the 2010 Toyota Yaris S models and the standard equipment list expands to include an AM/FM audio system with CD player and auxiliary jack for iPods and other MP3 players. You also gain a rear defogger, fog lights, and 15-inch wheels and tires in place of 14s. S versions of the sedan, like the Base hatchback, have a split-folding rear seat, and S hatchbacks have a leather-wrapped steering wheel and a rear-window wiper.

Starting price for the 2010 Toyota Yaris S two-door hatchback is $14,925 with manual transmission and $15,125 with automatic. The 2010 Yaris S four-door hatchback comes only with automatic transmission and is priced from $16,025. The starting price for the 2010 Yaris S sedan is $15,890 with manual transmission, $16,780 with automatic.

Among notable options for the 2010 Yaris is the Power Package. It adds a slightly different mix of components depending on model, but it’s the only way to get such features as cruise control and power mirrors, windows, and locks on any Yaris. Depending on trim level, the package runs from around $700 to almost $1,600. On the four-door hatchback S model, it costs $900, but adds a rear seat that slides fore and aft a few inches and also has a backrest that’s split into folding sections and can recline. Base models with the Power Package move up to the 15-inch wheels.

2010 Toyota Yaris Fuel Economy back to top

You pretty much have to invest in a hybrid or a diesel-powered car to beat Yaris for fuel efficiency. The EPA rates 2010 Toyota Yaris fuel economy at 29/36 mpg (city/highway) with manual transmission, 29/35 with automatic. Yaris in fact is the EPA’s model-year 2010 fuel-economy leader among subcompact cars.

2010 Toyota Yaris Safety and Reliability back to top

Even though the Yaris was not included in the unintended-acceleration recalls, publicity surrounding these serious safety issues was in stark contrast to Toyota’s image as a builder of dependable cars and trucks. The recalls targeted several models from Toyota as well as from the company’s premium Lexus brand. Sales of affected models fell, and prices of used examples dipped. Evidence that consumer confidence in Toyota and Lexus is permanently damaged, however, will take years to determine.

In the near-term, the safety recalls did not have an effect on some base-line measurements of safety and reliability, including government crash-test ratings and the most widely respected customer satisfaction ratings.

Government crash-test ratings award a maximum five stars for occupant protection in frontal and side collisions (www.safercar.gov). The Toyota Yaris two-door hatchback is among the few subcompact cars to score the maximum five stars for driver protection in both frontal and side impacts. It scores four stars for front-passenger protection in a frontal crash, and three stars for rear-passenger protection in a side collision. In the same tests, the Yaris four-door hatchback and sedan score four stars across the board.

For reliability, the Toyota brand is ranked above average in initial overall quality by J.D. Power and Associates, the leading automotive consumer-survey firm (www.jdpower.com). The initial-quality study measures problems experienced in the first 90 days of ownership. For long-term dependability, J.D. Power ranks the Toyota brand among the best in surveys measuring problems experienced by original owners of three-year old (2006-model year) vehicles.

The Toyota Yaris is J.D. Power’s top-rated subcompact car in initial quality during the first 90 days of ownership. Yaris owners give it maximum or near-maximum points in every area of exterior, interior, and accessories quality but one: Yaris’s lowest mark is an “average” rating in powertrain design.

The current-generation Toyota Yaris, which debuted for model-year 2007, has not been on the market long enough to be including in the latest J.D. Power studies that measure problems experienced by original owners of three-year-old vehicles.

2010 Toyota Yaris Release Date back to top

The 2010 Yaris went on sale in July 2009. Incidentally, Toyota says “Yaris” is a combination of the German affirmative “Ya” and the name of a Greek goddess of elegance. In Japan, Yaris is sold as the Vitz.

What's next for the 2010 Toyota Yaris back to top

Yaris has done yeoman work for Toyota here and overseas and is the best-selling subcompact nameplate in America. Its winning formula isn’t likely to change much with the next-generation. That’s set for a model-year 2012 introduction in the U.S. We’ll likely see another egg-shaped hatchback accompanied by a slightly svelter sedan.

The next Yaris won’t be discernibly larger outside, but should have marginally more interior space. Styling will be fresh, too, but probably unadventurous; renegade looks in a Toyota micro car are now the province of the younger-trending Scion iQ. Yaris is again likely to serve Toyota as a “world” car, so design efficiencies point to a repeat of the flip-flop steering-wheel dashboard with center-mounted gauges.

Front-wheel drive is a given, as well, though the small gas four-cylinder engine could be accompanied by a gas-electric hybrid powertrain. Toyota confirms it’s developing a low-priced hybrid to battle the 2010 Honda Insight and that the new car will be a Yaris spin-off. Toyota aggressively defended its hybrid leadership by pricing the all-new 2010 Prius at just $22,750, including destination. That’s just $1,000 more than the slower, smaller, less-sophisticated 2010 Insight, and it suggests a Yaris-based hybrid could be priced well under $20,000.

2010 Toyota Yaris Competition back to top

2010 Honda Fit: The sporty leader among entry-level cars. Fit has sharp handling and an elongated shape that carries four adults and lots of cargo with more élan than a vehicle so small has a right to. It gained a little size and power and an optional navigation system with voice recognition as part of its model-year 2009 redesign. It won’t change again until model-year 2014 or so, though Honda is reportedly working on a hybrid version that would be a foil for any future hybrid Yaris. Today’s Fit has 117 horsepower, EPA ratings of 27/33 with manual transmission, 28/35 with automatic, and a base price range of roughly $15,600-$19,800.

2010 Hyundai Accent: A value leader among entry-level cars, its sub-$11,000 two-door hatchback vies with the Nissan Versa Sedan 1.6 as America’s least-expensive new car. And Accent fights with Fit for second place in subcompact-class sales. Also offered as a four-door hatchback, this South Korean offering is far less adventurous in design than the Yaris, Fit, or Versa. The price-leader is a real stripper, but the price ladder climbs to around $16,600 for well-equipped versions. Accent has 110 horsepower and rates 28/34 mpg with manual transmission, 27/36 with automatic. Next full redesign comes for model-year 2012.

2010 Nissan Versa: Rivals Yaris for odd-ball styling, but beats it for passenger and cargo room and for all-around driving satisfaction. Versa’s four-door hatchback is far more useful than its four-door sedan and competes with larger cars for space and dollar value. Starting around $10,700, the Versa Sedan 1.6 model goes for low-price bragging rights, but even at $17,000 or so, the top-of-the-line model is a terrific buy. Four-cylinder engines of 107 and 122 horsepower are available and fuel economy ratings span 24/32-28/34. Versa’s next major redesign comes for model-year 2012 or 2013.