The 2009 Toyota Yaris boasts a variety of body styles and a solid track record for reliability, but there are better choices for an economy car.
The subcompact economy car class has historically been populated by vehicles that had all the materials and build quality of a plastic toy found in a box of Cocoa Puffs. To call some of these cheap would be an insult to cheap things. But in the past few years a more competitive market has forced these bottom feeders to up their game in terms of overall quality and the adoption of modern convenience and safety technologies. The 2009 Toyota Yaris is a prime example of this. This is Toyota's least expensive car, yet it offers a stylish-looking interior, a surprising amount of interior room and a respectable collection of standard and optional features.
The 2009 model, in particular, has a handful of changes that should expand the Yaris' appeal. Among the improvements are newly standard safety features (antilock brakes and side curtain airbags) and a new four-door hatchback. The latter makes for a well-rounded lineup in terms of body styles, which also include a cute-looking two-door hatchback and a more traditional four-door sedan. The sedan is distinctive in that it is practically a different model, as its headlights, body panels and even instrument panel are different from those of the hatchbacks.
All of these body styles boast superior fuel economy as well as Toyota's solid reputation for reliability and overall quality. Yet other carmakers have shown big improvements in those areas as well. Apart from the four-door version, the Yaris doesn't hold any significant advantages over other highly regarded small cars such as the Honda Fit, the Kia Rio and the Yaris' hip cousin, the Scion xD. The high-quality Honda offers a more enjoyable drive as well as more versatile cargo-carrying options, while the xD's odd, funky styling and variety of stereo options might appeal more to younger buyers. If you're not into hatchbacks, the Yaris sedan will likely hold considerable sway, though you could also consider the Nissan Versa sedan. Overall, Toyota's Yaris strikes us as a merely average choice in a continually improving segment.