Toyota Yaris is economical, budget-oriented

Let it be recorded here on this website that I do actually review cars you that people can afford (sometimes). Believe it or not, I don’t pick the vehicles that I review for you, my loyal readers. I’m merely scheduled into them. And believe me, I hear it all that time: “You never review cars I can afford.” So, listen up! This week’s tester is under $20,000.

The 2019 Toyota Yaris has some changes for this model year, but still remains one of the most affordable vehicles on the market. But, with such a small price tag come some draw backs. The biggest drawback for the Yaris is the engine. It might be super reliable and great for getting you from point A to point B, but off the line it’s sluggish and overall the performance can be summed up with one adjective: pokey.


The 1.5-liter engine makes just over 100 horses. The 106-hp engine lacks any enthusiasm. The six-speed automatic transmission of my tester felt dated. A manual transmission is available too and lowers the cost even more for those who can drive a standard transmission. Redeeming the performance somewhat, the Yaris has responsive steering and an amazing turning radius. This makes it ideal for city dwellers who need to maneuver in and out of tight parking spots. It’s unfair to expect the Yaris to be exciting and fast. So, rather let’s judge it for what it is, and not for what it is not. As a commuter car, either in the suburbs or in the city, it does a good job and won’t cost a lot refueling.


On looks, the Yaris maintains a youthful, modern appearance. While it’s in the middle of its life cycle, the Yaris still feels fresh. The wide-mouth front grille is attractive. It adds distinction to the Yaris. LED head lights are well styled, but conservative. The profile is all around ordinary with little to no styling elements. The back side has a rear spoiler which adds a playful charm to it.


Inside, the Yaris is basic, but has some surprising softer materials. For a vehicle under $20,000 there are not many hard-plastic touch points and that was impressive. The Yaris is not a big a car. So the five-passenger rating is a little unrealistic, although it’s technically correct. The rear space is small and best suited for only two people. Any passenger over six feet tall or with wide shoulders will not be happy for long trips in the back seat. Legroom is adequate, but a car like the Honda Fit offers far more space for rear passengers.

There is 13.5 cubic feet of cargo room in the trunk. That’s average for this segment. While the rear seats to fold down, they only go halfway down, thus limiting the cargo room expandability.

The Yaris seems to take some cost-cutting shortcuts on the infotainment system, which is disappointing. For a vehicle aimed at a youthful consumer, there is not much impressive technology. The seven-inch touchscreen is clean and easy to use, but there is no smart phone integration whatsoever. For a car not to have Apple CarPlay or Android Auto in 2019 seems ridiculous. There are two USB ports, Bluetooth and six speakers.


There are three trims for the Yaris, including L, LE and XLE. The basic trim L, with a manual transmission starts under $15,000. My tester was the top-of-the-line XLE trim with an MSRP of $19,470.


For a car to be affordable, like the Yaris, it needs to also be fuel efficient. And the Yaris is! It has an EPA rating of 32 mpg/city and 40 mpg/highway. In a week’s worth of suburban “pokey” driving, I averaged almost 36 mpg.

So, loyal readers, I hope you remember this car review as part of the wide array of vehicles I review. From luxurious and lavish to basic and economical. On a writer’s salary, I can appreciate cars like the Yaris, because that’s more in my budget, even if I want the fast, luxury offered by vehicles out of my budget!


2019 Toyota Yaris XLE

Price/As tested price……………………. $19,470/$19,470

Mileage…………………………………… 32 mpg/city; 40 mpg/hwy

Engine……………………………………… 1.5-liter 4-cylinder

Horsepower…………………………… 106 hp/103 lbs./ft.

Transmission…………………………… Six-speed automatic

Drive Wheels……………………….. Front-wheel drive

Final Assembly Point…………………… Salamanica, Mexico

Jimmy Dinsmore
For several years Jimmy Dinsmore has reviewed new vehicles, offering up a unique look and an interesting voice in his weekly column. Jimmy looks at vehicles from the consumer’s point of view. Light on the technical jargon, and lacking the cynicism that pervades many other auto reviews, Driver’s Side treats each vehicle fairly, offering a light-hearted take. Email him at - and follow him on Twitter @driversside.