By KBB.com Editors
For 2011, the Yaris continues as Toyota's subcompact value leader, which makes sense since it's also Toyota's only sub-compact offering. Having replaced the slow-selling Echo a few years back, the Yaris has gained in popularity and, although it remains the smallest and least expensive vehicle in the Toyota brand line-up, it is still packed with value. Set to do battle with the Honda Fit, Ford Fiesta, Mazda MAZDA2 and lesser rivals like the Chevrolet Aveo and Kia Rio, the Yaris must cover a lot of ground. Of the three distinctly different Yaris models, it's the Liftback that make the more expressive design statement and, although the Sedan is nearly 19 inches longer than the Liftback, all three vehicles share the same chassis, engine and drivetrain.You'll Like This Car If...
If you trust Toyota for reliability and are in the market for a cute subcompact, the 2011 Yaris fits the bill. You might also need to be open to a few curious looks on the street – the Yaris sports a distinctively "Euro" design.You May Not Like This Car If...
If you like more conventional styling or have a penchant for performance driving, the 2011 Toyota Yaris will not meet your needs. It's a simple, four-cylinder economy model with a whimsical design – not a sporty performer by any stretch.What's New for 2011
The Toyota Yaris sees no major changes for 2011.Driving It Driving Impressions
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. 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 (117 horsepower to Yaris' 106) and is much more fun to drive. This kind of subtle difference may not impact you but, if you're in any way interested in quickness and responsiveness, the Yaris might fail to impress.Favorite Features
Flexible Seat Adjustments
The Yaris Sedan provides four-way adjustable front seats and fold-down rear seats that provide nearly 13 cubic feet of cargo space.
The Yaris boasts the largest wheelbase in the subcompact arena. This is most noticeable in the interior leg and head room in both front and back seats.
The 2011 Toyota Yaris Sedan and Liftback share many things, but the instrument panel is where they part ways with their domestic rivals. Both vehicles have the center-stacked "waterfall" type gauges borrowed from the Lexus design philosophy. The disconcerting aspect is that at night there are no gauges or little lights in front of you, causing you to have to turn your head slightly to the right to look at, for example, the speedometer. Another unusual trait of the Yaris interior is that the waterfall gauge panel provides a bit of a "cave" section behind it, allegedly providing storage space. This oddly-sized space might allow for balancing a small map, but anything more sizable would be precariously perched. Overall, however, the interiors of both the Sedan and Liftback seem roomier than you'd expect for the sizes of the vehicles.Exterior
The most pronounced difference between the Yaris Liftback and the Yaris Sedan is that the Sedan is nearly 19 inches longer. Though the two body styles share a slight family resemblance, their individual personalities are miles apart. The Yaris Liftback has the more unusual exterior styling, with a pronounced short front overhang and an exaggerated "bulldog" stance. As slight as the front end seems, the wide flat-back design of the hatch door appears solid and substantial, providing a low, easy opening to the cargo area. The four-door Yaris Sedan styling seems rather traditional at first glance. It, too, has the short sloping overhang in front but the traditional sedan look is evident by the high arch of the roofline and windows that helps provide decent head room for those in the back seat.Notable Standard Equipment
In this, the least-expensive segment of them all, the idea is to get the advertised price as low as possible, so the standard equipment list is usually short. This is not the case for the Toyota Yaris, however, which offers a tilt wheel, air conditioning, intermittent wipers, rear defroster, six airbags, electronic traction and stability control, anti-lock brakes with electronic brake force distribution and color-keyed mirrors and door handles. More notably, the Yaris Sedan offers six-way adjustable front seats with driver's seat height adjustment, remote trunk release and center covered center console, while the Liftback models provide sun visor extensions. Missing from the standard equipment list is a radio and a split-folding rear seat, but both can be had by opting for the Convenience Package.Notable Optional Equipment
A simple solution to getting the basic features you probably want is to add the Convenience Package, which includes an AM/FM CD player with MP3/WMA playback capability, XM Satellite Radio compatibility and auxiliary input jack, 60/40 split folding rear seat and 15-inch wheels with full wheel covers. Adding the comprehensive Power Package brings an upgraded sound system and interior (Sedan), alloy wheels, keyless entry, engine immobilizer and power door locks, windows and mirrors. Those two packages are slightly different for the Liftback models, which add a rear wiper/washer to the mix. A Sport package highlights include Optitron instrumentation, sport bucket seats, front, rear and rear decklid spoilers, an iPod connector, fog lights and a leather wrapped steering wheel and shift knob. The only three stand alone options are cruise control, 15-inch alloy wheels and fog lights.Under the Hood
The Yaris Sedan and Liftback share the same 1.5-liter four-cylinder engine with Variable Valve Timing with Intelligence (VVT-i), producing 106 horsepower. This is enough power to tool around town, but maybe not enough to take a chance at passing a Mack truck on a two-way highway with an oncoming car in sight.
1.5-liter in-line 4
106 horsepower @ 6000 rpm
104 lb.-ft. of torque @ 4200 rpm
EPA city/highway fuel economy: 29/36 (manual), 29/35 (automatic)
The Manufacturer's Suggested Retail Price (MSRP) for a base Toyota Yaris three-door Liftback with manual transmission starts just over $13,500, while the Sedan starts just over $14,000. A fully loaded Sedan tops out close to $18,500. The Yaris' main competitor, the Honda Fit, has a starting MSRP closer to $15,500, but includes many desirable standard features by comparison (and a slightly more powerful engine). The Ford Fiesta starts around $14,000. Be sure to check the New Car Blue Book Value before you buy to find out what people are really paying for this vehicle in your area. The Yaris is expected to retain a better-than-average resale value over time, higher than the Kia Rio, on par with the Ford Fiesta but a bit below the Honda Fit.