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#11

in 2009 Affordable Small Cars

Avg. Price Paid: $7,153 - $9,540
Original MSRP: $12,205 - $15,880
MPG: 29 City / 36 Hwy
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2009 Toyota Yaris Performance

This performance review was created when the car was new. Some links may no longer point to an active page.

The Yaris is a budget car, so performance expectations shouldn't be too high. Many say the steering is crisp and the stopping power is good, but accelerating and maintaining high speeds is more difficult.

  • "The 1.5-liter, 106 horsepower engine is reasonably smooth and peppy if the Yaris is lightly laden, but the steering feels too artificial and the shock absorbers allow the car to unnecessarily sway on buckled pavement." -- Austin American-Statesman
  • "There is a light, almost effortless feel to the Yaris in steering and during moderate acceleration; however, the engine seems strained when asked to deliver more." -- Kelley Blue Book
  • "It would be hard to come up with better inter-urban transportation than the Toyota Yaris, price considered or not. Forget the entry-level label. The Yaris feels and performs much better than its MSRP would suggest." -- New Car Test Drive
  • "Spry enough with a five-speed manual, the Yaris fun factor is dampened by dull steering, a roly-poly suspension tune, and iffy brakes." -- Car and Driver

Acceleration and Power

With a 1.5-liter four-cylinder engine and a four-speed automatic or five-speed manual transmission, test drivers say the Yaris is lively, but doesn't have the chops to effectively compete with the class' top performers. Where the Yaris stands out is its frugal gas mileage. The EPA rates the car at 29/35 mpg city/highway with the automatic transmission, and 29/36 mpg with the manual.

  • "More than spry enough for commuter duty. Yaris is liveliest with manual transmission. Adequate around-town go with the automatic, but these versions feel overmatched in fast-moving traffic and hilly terrain." -- Consumer Guide
  • "With this relatively small engine we found the Yaris a little lacking in performance when traveling at 60 mph-plus speeds on the highways. This is a shortcoming for Toyota since one of the main competitors -- the Honda Fit -- has a few more horses (109 horsepower to Yaris' 106) and is much more fun to drive." -- Kelley Blue Book
  • "The economical 1.5-liter engine has more than enough power to keep up with the pack." -- New Car Test Drive
  • "The Yaris accelerates adequately with the manual gearbox, but off-the-line performanc is sluggish with the automatic." -- Edmunds

Handling and Braking

The Yaris' handling is crisp and responsive, but most report it doesn't have the driving precision of the small car class leaders. 

  • "Responsive and secure, even fun, if not quite as sporty as Fit. Grip in turns is limited by narrow tires. The steering is nicely weighted. A tidy turning radius aids in tight maneuvers." -- Consumer Guide
  • "The 2009 Toyota Yaris travels down the road with a reasonably solid feel. The electric power steering is mostly devoid of feel, but its super-light touch makes maneuvering easy." -- Edmunds

Next Steps: 2009 Toyota Yaris

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