by Aiden Eksteen
The all-new Toyota Yaris Sedan is a Toyota with Mazda DNA. Based on the Mazda 2 platform, the Yaris sedan utilizes a Mazda-based chassis, Mazda technologies, and most of the Mazda 2's exterior and interior design ethos, which is why you might see more than a passing similarity to the CX-3 with which it shares a platform. There are three models that make up the 2020 Yaris Sedan lineup and all are equipped with a 1.5-liter four-cylinder engine with peak outputs of 106 horsepower and 103 lb-ft of torque sent to the Yaris's front-wheel-drivetrain via a six-speed manual gearbox in all but the XLE model, which is equipped with a six-speed automatic gearbox. The Yaris Sedan is affordable and fuel-efficient, and it's a rather enjoyable vehicle to drive. It makes for an ideal urban runabout and is a decent alternative to other popular subcompact sedans such as the Kia Rio, Hyundai Accent, and Nissan Versa.
For the 2020 model year, full smartphone integration in both Android Auto and Apple CarPlay functionality has been made standard in every model. - The Yaris Sedan is still available in three trims, the L, LE, and XLE.
The Mazda 2's design ethos is most noticeable at the front end of the Yaris Sedan, with a large lower gloss-black mesh grille bordered with a chrome accent strip taking center stage, flanked by molded contour lines that integrate with halogen headlights with daytime running lights on the L and LE, or LED automatic headlights with LED DRL's on the XLE. The LE and the XLE are fitted with front fog lights, color-keyed heated power outside mirrors with LED turn signal indicators, and with a rear-mounted spoiler. 15-inch styled steel wheels are standard on the L, with 16-inch dark gray split-spoke aluminum wheels standard on both the LE and XLE.
The Yaris Sedan isn't much different from the hatchback model, measuring only 9.6 inches longer in overall length at 171.2 inches; both share a wheelbase of 101.2 inches and a ground clearance of 5.5 inches. The sedan is 0.4 inches shorter in stature though, at 58.5 inches in height, but both are 66.7 inches wide. Curb weights don't differ too much either with the sedan models weighing in between 2,385 pounds and 2,482 lbs, while the hatchback models between 2,396 lbs and 2,445 lbs.
With only 106 hp and 103 lb-ft of torque at hand, the Yaris's 1.5-liter four-cylinder engine may not be the peppiest of entry-level mills around, but the six-speed manual gearbox that Mazda has blessed the L and LE models with is a bonus. The four-pot accelerates the Yaris from a stop and around town with adequate oomph, but it's at higher speeds where power delivery begins to weaken and the mill starts to feel, and sound, spent. The manual gearbox offers a level of engagement that can be enjoyed with the Yaris's low-end punch, and its responses are immediate and smooth. The XLE's six-speed automatic gearbox, on the other hand, is rather slow - although its shifts are smooth, its slow responses only aggravate the engine's lack of power. For those who want a more relaxed urban runabout without the desire to shift gears manually, the automatic 'box can be optioned on both the lower-spec models, too.
While both the sedan and hatchback variants of the Yaris are semi-fun to drive by virtue of Mazda's agile chassis and refined underpinnings, the sedan delivers an added level of driving enjoyment thanks to the inclusion of its manual gearbox. Within the confines of the city streets, the Yaris Sedan can actually feel somewhat athletic; its compact dimensions, featherlight chassis, and tight turning circle accord it with some golden handling dynamics in a usually monotonous segment.
That being said, the Yaris sedan is a relatively low-cost vehicle and subsequently won't deliver an optimal balance in ride quality and handling. Though the chassis does manage to remain mostly composed and never too loose or unstable, there is a little body roll exhibited around corners and throughout tight, quick maneuvers. There's not a whole lot of feedback ceded from the steering but the effort adjusts accordingly depending on the vehicle's speed. The Yaris's suspension and dampers are tuned more on the softer side for a comfortable driving experience, most minor road abrasions and typical everyday undulations are taken with the Yaris's stride, but anything more than minor will be clearly felt throughout the cabin. Fortunately, thanks to Mazda, the cabin is exceptionally well-isolated from the engine and outside noises.
The Yaris Sedan equipped with the automatic gearbox is the more fuel-efficient option from the lineup, it returns 32/40/35 mpg city/highway/combined. When driven meticulously, the model equipped with the manual gearbox proves impressively fuel-efficient too though, returning 30/39/34 mpg city/highway/combined. With its 11.6-gallon gas tank filled to the brim, the Yaris is accorded a maximum range of around 406 miles in most efficient guise.
Five passengers can be accommodated within the Yaris Sedan, though a relatively tight back seat limits the rear seats to two if any level of comfort is desired. The seats themselves are comfortable and nicely cushioned to deliver all-day comfort and are appropriately contoured and bolstered for support. The driver's seat does feel somewhat too high, but the steering column is tilt and telescoping and the front seats both feature six-way manual-adjustability, making finding an optimal driving position with suitable outward visibility easy. In terms of passenger space, there's plenty of it up front, but the room in the rear is not enough to comfortably accommodate anyone over six-foot tall.
The Yaris Sedan has 13.5 cubic feet of cargo room in the trunk, which is 2.4 cubes less than that which is offered behind the rear seats of the Yaris Hatchback's 15.8 cubes. That room is still enough to store a guitar and an amp or two, and if more room is required, the rear seats do fold down in a 60/40 split. Practicality-wise, the Yaris Sedan is on par with the Kia Rio Sedan and the Hyundai Accent, the Chevrolet Sonic Sedan boasts a decent 14.9 cubes in the trunk.
As for in-cabin storage solutions, there's a minuscule storage bin in the center front console, along with dual cupholders, there are usable door side pockets with small bottle holder sections, and the passenger-side glove box compartment is reasonably sizeable. Rear passengers get a single seatback map pocket on the passenger's side and a small-item bin in the rear of the center console.
Unlike the hatchback, the sedan lineup is comprised of three models; the L, which is the base-spec model and comes outfitted with a remote keyless entry system, a polyurethane steering wheel with a tilt and telescoping column, a six-way manually-adjustable driver's seat, four-way manually-adjustable passenger's seat, manual air conditioning, and power windows. In the way of safety and driver-assist features, there's an integrated rearview camera, cruise control, and a low-speed pre-collision system. The only additional feature found in the LE is a Smart Key system with push-button start, it's otherwise nearly identical to the L. The XLE is fitted with a leather-wrapped steering wheel with infotainment, cruise, and phone controls; it also gets a Normal and Sport driving mode as well as automatic climate control.
Standard-fit in every Yaris Sedan is a seven-inch infotainment touchscreen that's tethered to an AM/FM, SiriusXM Satellite, and HD Radio compatible stereo with a six-speaker sound system. The infotainment system comes standard with SiriusXM and Android Auto, Apple CarPlay, Stitcher, and Aha applications support. The stereo also allows for MP3 connectivity, voice recognition, hands-free phone capabilities, Bluetooth wireless technologies, and navigation. The system can be controlled via the multi-function steering wheel, the touchscreen, or via a remote multimedia control knob that's located in the center console. There are two USB 2.0 ports with iPod connectivity, a single auxiliary input jack for audio streaming, and a single 12-volt power outlet in every Yaris model.
The last Yaris Sedan to have been subject to any form of recall was the 2019 model, which was subject to two. The first pertained to an incorrect load carrying capacity label and the second for non-permanent text on the load capacity label. Though no reliability rating has been provided by J.D. Power as yet, Toyota's are well-known for their exceptional reliability and scored 78 out of 100 from the authority for the 2019 model. Every new Yaris Sedan is covered by a three-year/30,000-mile basic warranty and a five-year/60,000-mile powertrain warranty.
The NHTSA gave the 2020 Toyota Yaris Sedan an overall safety score of five-stars out of five. The IIHS followed suit by awarding the current year model with top results of Good for all five the specified crash tests the IIHS evaluated it for. Every model comes standard with a low-speed pre-collision system, a rearview camera, cruise control, and a consignment of six standard airbags.
The Yaris Sedan packages Toyota's renowned reliability with Mazda's upmarket feel and exceptional driving dynamics, making it a rather enjoyable urban commuter to drive on a daily basis; it's modern, safe, and feature-filled. The Yaris is also a comfortable car and highly fuel-efficient, whether equipped with the manual or automatic gearbox. This model year's upgraded infotainment system has compounded that appeal, with full smartphone integration in both Android Auto and Apple CarPlay on top of the extensive infotainment functionality that's already there. It's not the most practical or versatile sedan around, however, and it is somewhat lacking in overall passenger room and cargo capacity, which the Chevy Sonic will best on all fronts. Overall, the Toyota Yaris Sedan is an ideal first car and a value-rich, affordable daily runabout, it ranks relatively high in the segment and is certainly an option worth considering.
Toyota has increased the Yaris Sedan's price by only $50 for the new model year. The Yaris L, which is the base model, is now priced at $15,650. The mid-spec LE has an MSRP of $16,650, and the top-spec XLE is priced at $18,750. That is excluding Toyota's $955 destination and delivery fee as well as any tax, registration, or licensing fees.
The Toyota Yaris Sedan occupies a relatively affordable price bracket within the market and, considering the minor hike in price from the base to the top-spec models of the lineup, the top-spec XLE is the recommended one. It is the only model in the lineup that comes standard with a leather-wrapped steering wheel to complement its exclusive leatherette seating surfaces, it also comes fitted with automatic climate control, which the other two models lack. Unfortunately, the six-speed manual gearbox that's standard on the lesser models is not available for the XLE, but the automatic gearbox it does get is passable - it's the more fuel-efficient of the two, as well.
For around $500 more than the Toyota Yaris Sedan, there's the Honda Fit, which may only come in hatchback body style, but comes through as a better all-rounder than the Yaris in many regards. First of all, there are four models to choose from within the Fit lineup, offering a greater selection and far better value in the upper echelons, with the top-spec Fit coming with many features that the top-spec Yaris does not. The Fit is also equipped with a slightly more powerful four-cylinder mill that's also a little more fuel-efficient, returning EPA estimates of 33/40/35 mpg when equipped with the CVT. Both deliver similar ride quality and comfort, and similar handling prowess; there's a manual gearbox available with both the Yaris and the Fit too, though the Yaris's automatic gearbox is preferable to the Fit's CVT option. The Yaris may offer better value in features and a far better infotainment system at the base level, but the Fit grows with appeal as one moves up the trim levels. Beyond that, the Fit also takes the first-place spot on the podium for its practicality, versatility, and favorable powertrain.
The Corolla is a compact sedan that's a little larger than the subcompact Yaris, it's around $4,000 more than Yaris and comes equipped with either a 1.8-liter or 2.0-liter engine, both of which are more powerful than the Yaris's 1.5-liter mill, and subsequently not quite as fuel-efficient. While most of the Corolla lineup is serviced by a dreaded CVT, there is a manual gearbox available with one of the 2.0-liter-equipped mid-tier models - which means that along with the more powerful engine under the hood, the Corolla offers a little more power and driver engagement. The Yaris Sedan may be nimbler and smaller than the Corolla, but the Corolla is preferable on the road, exhibiting more poise around the bends and better capability in dealing with imperfect roads. Inevitably, the Carolla is the better car all-round but is considerably more expensive than the Yaris, which may be the better value for money buy. But, with a significant amount more features and driver-assist technologies, the Corolla may be worth considering.