Sunday, June 4, 2023
News 2020 Toyota Yaris Review: Death Of Another Good Small Car

2020 Toyota Yaris Review: Death Of Another Good Small Car

Tragically, our desire to pay more for an SUV that is little more utilitarian will have killed yet another fantastic small car, the Toyota Yaris

  • The 2020 Toyota Yaris hatchback’s base price in Canada is $17,290, $17,750 in the US.

  • The 2020 model is the last for the Yaris.

  • Current-generation Yaris is a rebadged Mazda2 hatchback.

Toyota’s little Yaris is a fantastic car for those who require little more than convenient, affordable, reliable, and economical transportation. If you’ve been thinking about getting one, start acting.

2020 Toyota Yaris HB | Photo: Matt St-Pierre

The 2020 Toyota Yaris is the direct descendant, in name at least, to the Toyota Tercel that was and arguably remains the best small car of all time. Members of the first generations of the Tercel are all but extinct however if you give it a moment or two, on a busy intersection, you’re bound to see examples from the 1990s still going strong. Rusted possibly, but still motoring. And puffing blue smoke, but still running.

Toyota made the best small cars

With the possible exception of Honda Civics and Toyota Corollas from the era, all other offerings are gone and forgotten. The Hyundai Accent had a good run but when was the last time you spotted a 1995, or a 2007 for that matter? A 1999 Mazda Protegé? A first-generation Kia Rio? Or a Dodge Neon, for fun? Meanwhile, there are still numerous Toyota Echos and Yaris being driven every day.

2020 Toyota Yaris HB | Photo: Matt St-Pierre

And this is the 2020 Toyota Yaris’ legacy, or just about. It’s no secret that, for the last few years, both the Sedan and Hatchback have been badge-engineered Mazda2s. When Toyota decided to go this way for North America, it was clear for many that Toyota was about to leave the small or subcompact car segment – there’s too little money to be made. And this is what’s happening with nearly all carmakers. There will be less than a handful of subcompacts still available in 2021. Think about it: There are more station wagons on the market than these urban runabouts.

Priced to move, but it won’t anymore

Focusing specifically on the hatchback (sedan still offered now in the US, dropped a while back in Canada), a 2020 6-speed manual example goes for $17,290. At this price, you get a 7-inch touchscreen display, Apple CarPlay, Android Auto, keyless entry, A/C, power windows, heated outside mirrors, or what was once known as fully-equipped. The optional 6-speed automatic requires $1,100.

2020 Toyota Yaris HB | Photo: Matt St-Pierre

A further $1,560 gets you the top-line XLE with heated seats, a heated steering wheel (!), fog lights, and 16-alloy wheels. All the basics, and then some, are here.

Perfect for two

Physically, the 2020 Toyota Yaris is a darling. It cannot escape its true roots but regardless, the big grin, oversized headlights, and cute proportions make it endearing. The cabin is perfectly modern with excellent ergonomics, lovely fit and finish, plenty of features, and loads of room for two upfront.

2020 Toyota Yaris HB | Photo: Matt St-Pierre

Now, while it is more than possible to carry four adults on board, legroom could become an issue. The same goes for trunk space, however, and once more for two, the car is spacious. I actually and successfully completed a Costco run (tissues (on special!), diapers, and more bulky stuff) by filling up the boot and spilling over slightly onto the backbench. In a world where reason perseveres, the Yaris is plenty big.

A subcompact blast

And believe me or not but the Toyota’s also got a big heart. The 1.5-litre 4-cylinder engine, and its 106 horsepower and 103 lb.-ft. of torque are loads of fun. This is especially true from about 3,500 rpm on when the mill hits its stride. Helping momentum is the sharp 6-speed autobox that shifts exactly when needed. Let’s remind ourselves that the small Toyota weighs in at barely more than 1,110 kg (2,425 lbs.) which helps to explain how and why it’s such a blast to drive.

2020 Toyota Yaris HB | Photo: Matt St-Pierre

I’ve always enjoyed Toyota’s small cars. In my time, I got to drive a new Tercel, Echo and Yaris and have never been disappointed. Now, factor in some inherent Mazda driving dynamics and you have yourself a supremely agile, light- and surefooted automobile. Both steering and brakes are impeccably suited to the task and if you’d like, you can even activate the Sport drive mode for sharper throttle responses.

Soon, they will be all gone

Although I will briefly mourn the passing of the Toyota Yaris, I understand why it and so many others, including the Chevrolet Sonic, Hyundai Accent and Nissan Micra (Canada only), have to go. They will join the Nissan Versa (no longer offered in Canada), the Ford Fiesta, the Mazda2, and others that have left this world hell-bent on SUVs.

2020 Toyota Yaris HB | Photo: Matt St-Pierre

And I get small SUVs like the Nissan Kicks, Hyundai Venue and others but understand that for folks my age, a Tercel, Mazda 323, Chevrolet Chevette and others were the first cars that took us to school, helped us earn wages as pizza delivery dudes and chicks… It seems odd that my kids will drive a Toyota CH-R (no they won’t) to college and deliver sushi.

2020 Toyota Yaris HB | Photo: Matt St-Pierre

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Matt St-Pierre
Trained as an Automotive Technician, Matt has two decades of automotive journalism under his belt. He’s done TV, radio, print and this thing called the internet. He’s an avid collector of many 4-wheeled things, all of them under 1,500 kg, holds a recently expired racing license and is a father of two. Life is beautiful. Send Matt an emai


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