This Toyota Yaris Hatchback has just been canceled, and it’s a shame

The last few months have had quite a bit of variation from the cars we’ve been reviewing. We have tested electric minis and solar sonatas, and the lack of travel has provided an opportunity to test some of the vehicles in the press fleet that we have not been able to do in the past. Today’s topic is the $ 17,750 Toyota Yaris hatchback; It’s remarkable because the same week we had one for testing was the same week Toyota announced that the Yaris was canceled. And honestly, it’s a shame.

It is not a terribly famous nameplate. Decades from now, millennial retirees are unlikely to enter a bidding war for rust-free examples. Yarises has not claimed victory at Le Mans. Unlike the original Mini, it can’t point to many famous owners, though Burton Guster drove a blue Yaris in Psychoanalyze. In fact, the car we currently call Yaris in the United States is hardly a Toyota and shares nothing more than a name with the Yaris that our European or Japanese audience can recognize. Beneath the skin, it’s actually a Mazda 2.

I must confess that I was unaware of that fact until I opened the door to our test Yaris, a $ 19,705 five-door XLE version. But it was instantly obvious once I looked around. The steering wheel is pure Mazda, though it’s the older steering wheel, with a slightly fatter rim, not the newest one I’m still raving about in the Mazdas 3 and CX-30. The infotainment system could say Toyota, but it is also pure Mazda; not bad considering it’s much less frustrating to use than Toyota’s Entune offering. The dash is pure Mazda from a few years back, too, with a center analog dial flanked by a pair of monochrome displays that wash unreadable in direct sunlight.

Under the hood, out of all proportion with that massive Cylon grille, lives a naturally aspirated 1.5L four-cylinder engine and a six-speed automatic. (A six-speed manual is an option, but good luck finding one.) At 106hp (79kW) and 103lb-ft (140Nm), the Yaris is not going to set any speed records in a straight line. But even the fully loaded XLE only weighs 2,445 lbs (1,109 kg), so it really doesn’t need that much power.

Similarly, driving a Yaris means adopting a more relaxed attitude towards curves. Although the XLE mounts on 185/60 rubber-wrapped 16-inch alloy wheels, they provide far less front grip than might be expected. It really only becomes apparent at highway speed where exchanges definitely require losing some speed if you want to avoid detouring into the landscape. However, driving smoothly has some benefit; The Yaris Hatchback will average 35mpg (6.7l / 100km), with 40mpg (5.9l / 100km) possible on the road.

As a daily routine, that’s probably preferable to throwing 1.2G in a corner. And in most other respects, the Yaris was a very easy car to live. Sound levels at cruising speeds are acceptable, and the ride absorbs the imperfections Americans expect from their road surfaces. It’s not exactly a TARDIS, but with the rear seats folded there is a cargo volume of 15.8 cubic feet (447L). The 7-inch touchscreen infotainment system is easier to use than any you find in any other Toyota and comes with Apple CarPlay, Android Auto, and Sirius XM. It’s not packed with advanced driver assistance technology, though you get a front-end collision warning and automatic emergency braking, and the XLE has LED headlights and a rain-sensing wiper.

All for less than $ 20k, which is quite reasonable or outrageously expensive depending on whether your internal inflation calculator stopped working after Y2K. Production actually ceased last month, so there might even be some deals …

Listing image by Jonathan Gitlin