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#22

in 2011 Affordable Small Cars

Avg. Price Paid: $9,696 - $11,041
Original MSRP: $13,155 - $14,515
MPG: 29 City / 36 Hwy
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2011 Toyota Yaris Performance

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

The 2011 Yaris is geared toward drivers who want an inexpensive car with good fuel economy and decent performance. Because the Yaris is a budget car, performance expectations should be limited. Many reviewers say the steering is crisp and stopping power is good, but accelerating and maintaining high speeds are more difficult for the Yaris. More than one reviewer comments on noticeable engine noise.

  • "The Toyota Yaris excels as around-town transportation, price considered or not. Forget the entry-level label. The Yaris feels and performs much better than its MSRP would suggest. Still, you know this isn't a Lexus, or even a Camry, from the clearly heard engine and some road noise. These are constant reminders of the car's small size and light weight, but there's little else about its road manners to complain about." -- New Car Test Drive
  • "The four-cylinder engine of the Yaris has Toyota's variable valve-timing system (known as VVT-i) and dual overhead camshafts and is rated at 106 horsepower. 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
  • "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." -- Iguida.com
  • "On the open road, the Toyota Yaris feels solid, while in the city, the light and quick steering makes parking lot maneuvers a breeze. The engine is quiet when driven gingerly, but it can become rather loud and buzzy when pushed harder. Power is adequate for merging and passing on the highway, but is not at all suited for more spirited driving (nor is the lack of steering feel)." -- Edmunds

Acceleration and Power

Test drivers say the 2011 Yaris definitely has some zip to it and a decent fun-to-drive quotient, but it doesn't have the chops to effectively compete with the top performers in its class.  For more pep, reviewers suggest the manual transmission.

The Yaris offers a 1.5-liter four-cylinder engine that makes 106 horsepower. It comes standard with a five-speed manual transmission, but a four-speed automatic is available. Most reviewers prefer the manual transmission because it makes the Yaris more engaging to drive.

The 2011 Yaris’ strongest characteristic is its fuel economy. The EPA rates the 2011 model at an average of 29/36 mpg city/highway for the manual transmission and 29/35 mpg with the automatic transmission.

  • "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
  • "The Yaris has no problem keeping up with traffic and is especially usable for in-town duty. The engine revs freely and smoothly and will tolerate near-redline rpm without squawking." -- New Car Test Drive
  • "With its 1.5-liter four-cylinder engine that outputs 106 horsepower and 103 lb-ft of torque, and equipped with variable valve timing with intelligence (VVT-i), we still can't call it a rocket ship, but toss in a standard five-speed manual transmission or the optional four-speed automatic, and we can agree with the axiom that it's more fun to drive a slow car fast, rather than a fast car slow." -- Left Lane News

Handling and Braking

For the most part, reviewers say the Yaris’ handling is crisp and responsive, and the brakes are strong. Test drivers warn, however, that the car tends to drift in high winds. 

  • "Grip in turns is limited by narrow tires. The steering is nicely weighted. A tidy turning radius aids in tight maneuvers. Some testers detected wander in gusty crosswinds. All models have good stopping control, and kudos to Toyota for making ABS standard on all models, rather than optional." -- Consumer Guide
  • "Sporting a 96.9-inch wheelbase, the car immediately lends itself to go-kart-like handling." -- Left Lane News
  • "There's still some body roll when the corners get tight, but it comes and goes with no surprises or awkward weight transitions." -- New Car Test Drive
  • "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." -- Iguida.com

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