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2010 Toyota Yaris ReviewThe Good
The Toyota Yaris subcompact car receives new standard safety features for 2010, and continues to offer good fuel economy, a fun driving experience, and a unique exterior design, which makes it stand out in a crowd.The Bad
The Yaris remains sparsely equipped inside for 2010, and continues to lag in the power/performance category, although owners can improve performance by mating the engine with a manual shifter.
The CarGurus View
The 2010 Toyota Yaris provides an affordable and trendy ride for budget-conscious drivers. Although its standard features list remains light, and the rear seat puts the squeeze on taller drivers, the Yaris handles well and delivers a fun, energetic ride. Toyota also offers a number of upgrades, but those optional features come at a price premium that threatens to push the Yaris out of the budget car range.
At a Glance
Toyota upgrades the Yaris's standard safety features for 2010, equipping the subcompact car with the Toyota Star Safety System, which includes Vehicle Stability Control with traction control, as well as antilock brakes with brake assist and electronic brakeforce distribution. The Yaris now holds the distinction as the only car in its class to offer these safety features as standard equipment. In addition, the automaker adds a rear window defroster as standard equipment on all Yaris trims, and now offers a manual transmission on the five-door Hatchback. New optional steel or alloy 15-inch wheels are also available for 2010.
In addition to the five-door Hatchback, Yaris trims for 2010 include the three-door Hatchback and the four-door Base sedan. The two hatchbacks, designed for a sportier driving experience, have a wheelbase of 96.9 inches and an overall length of 150.6 inches, while the more family-oriented Base sedan offers a longer wheelbase of 100.4 inches, with an overall length of 169.3 inches. The Sedan also sits 2.5 inches lower than the hatchbacks.
Exterior features for all Yaris trims include aerodynamic halogen headlights, integrated bumpers, color-keyed outside mirrors and door handles, and a "T" face Toyota grille. The wide liftgate on the Hatchbacks provides easy access to the rear cargo area. Arcing lines and a mono-form shape give the Yaris an aerodynamic appearance.
A 1.5-liter, DOHC four-cylinder engine powers all Yaris trims. The engine produces 106 hp and 103 lb-ft of torque, and comes equipped with variable valve timing with intelligence, which helps improve performance and efficiency, according to the automaker. A five-speed manual transmission comes standard in all three trims, although owners can opt for a five-speed automatic transmission with uphill/downhill shift logic, which ensures smooth shifting when driving on hills.
The engine provides sufficient power for around-town driving, but strains when called upon for more strenuous driving procedures, according to owners and reviewers. Most find the Yaris's acceleration adequate, but many would like more power under the pedal, especially at highway speeds. On the positive side, the engine posts very good fuel economy numbers of 29/36 mpg, which adds to the Yaris's reputation as a value-priced commuter.
Ride & Handling
Owners and reviewers give the Yaris good marks for its steering and handling, especially around town, where it excels. Its narrow tires provide limited grip in tight turns, however, and the Yaris exhibits some lean and roll in curves. In addition, due to its lightness, heavy wind gusts can push it around on the road. Most owners and reviewers give good marks to the Yaris's brakes, which provide quick, responsive stopping power.
The Yaris features an independent MacPherson strut suspension with a stabilizer bar in the front, and a torsion beam rear suspension. Power-assisted rack-and-pinion steering also comes standard. All Yaris trims feature a highly rigid body structure designed to reduce noise and vibration. However, occupants will still notice some engine and road noise, typical for a small car like the Yaris.
All three trims ride on 14-inch wheels with all-season tires, although owners can add 15-inch wheels as an option.
Cabin & Comfort
The 2010 Yaris seats five passengers in its compact though comfortable cabin. For a budget-oriented car, the Yaris has good interior fit and finish, with a quality feel to the materials and upholstery, most owners agree. However, some drivers might find the location of the instrument gauges, positioned above the center stack, somewhat confusing, although Toyota contends it helps drivers keep their eyes on the road. For the most part, owners find the gauges and buttons intuitive and easy to operate.
The front seats provide good support, although some complain of an awkward seating position, due to the location of the steering wheel and pedals. The back seat remains tight for taller adults, who will find limited legroom and headroom. In the Hatchbacks, the rear seatback folds down to expand cargo capacity from 9.3 cubic feet to 25.7 cubic feet. The Hatchbacks also include under-floor storage and a rear luggage cover, while the Base sedan offers nearly 12 cubic feet of cargo capacity in the trunk.
Standard interior features for the Hatchback trims include air conditioning, four-way manually adjustable front seats, a digital clock, and a tilt steering wheel, as well as an audio prep package with four speakers. The Sedan adds a tachometer, a covered console with a storage compartment, and a height adjuster for the driver's seat.
An optional Convenience Package adds an AM/FM audio system with a CD player and MP3 input jack, while a Power Package adds power door locks, windows, and side mirrors, as well as remote keyless entry. In addition, a Sport Package adds a leather-wrapped steering wheel, front sport seats with sport fabric, and an amber illuminated tachometer, as well as such exterior features as a rear spoiler, front and rear underbody spoilers, front foglights, and side rocker panels. Owners can add cruise control and front foglights as individual options.
The NHTSA awarded the 2010 Yaris four out of five stars for protecting passengers in front-end and side-impact crashes, and four stars for rollover protection. The Yaris features a reinforced cabin, which helps keep passengers safe with front and rear crumple zones and energy-absorbing materials in the doors and roof.
In addition to the new Toyota Star Safety System, standard safety features for the 2010 Yaris include front seat-mounted and front and rear side-curtain airbags, an energy-absorbing steering column, and a tire pressure monitoring system.
What Owners Think
The Yaris's overall value, as well as its excellent gas mileage and its unique exterior shape, appeal to many drivers, particularly younger ones, who primarily use the vehicle as a daily commuter. The Yaris's overall build quality also gets good marks from owners. The car's ride gets mixed reviews, with some liking its small, sporty nature, while others find the ride too harsh. The center-located dashboard similarly receives mixed comments. In addition, owners have some safety concerns about the Yaris, due more to its small size than its safety features. (We should note the Yaris was not one of Toyota's vehicles involved in the recent recalls due to defects in the gas pedal.) On the plus side, most owners find the Yaris easy to park in even the tightest of spaces, and did we mention the great gas mileage?
Rob has been a contributor to CarGurus since 2007, and an automotive test-driver and writer since the early ’90s. He’s test-driven everything from BMWs and Jags to Bentleys and Saabs, with an occasional Range Rover, Ferrari, Porsche or Lamborghini thrown in. He also created the annual Car of the Year and Exotic Car of the Year awards for Robb Report magazine. He currently resides in Florida.
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