The subcompact hatchback segment is not what it used to be with most of the players abandoning the segment, like the Ford Fiesta, Hyundai Accent and Nissan Versa. Well there are mainly just three small hatchbacks left for those budget conscious buyers, the Honda Fit, Kia Rio and the Toyota Yaris. While the fate of the Fit is questionable in the US, Toyota has gone ahead and redone the Yaris hatchback for 2020.
Compared to the last generation Yaris, the 2020 Toyota Yaris is a huge step forward, but you may notice that it looks awfully similar. That’s because instead of creating its own Yaris hatchback for the US, Toyota decided to tap its partnership with Mazda for the new Yaris. Toyota already sold the Mazda2 in the US as the Yaris sedan and now it’s decided to sell the hatchback version of the Mazda here as well, as the new Yaris hatchback.
Generally the outcome can go one of two ways when an automaker decides to rebadge another automaker’s vehicle as its own. On one hand it could be horribly received, think of all the rebadging that automakers did in the 1980s and 1990s. Or it can go the other way with the final product being great. The 2020 Yaris hatchback is the latter. Thanks to its Mazda DNA, the Yaris hatchback is a fun-to-drive small hatchback that injects some excitement into a segment that usually lacks it.
The Yaris hatchback is powered by the same 1.5-liter four-cylinder engine as the sedan, which generates 106 horsepower and 103 lb-ft. of torque. Sadly a manual transmission isn’t offered, but at least its six-speed automatic transmission has real gears.
Although it only has 106-hp on tap, the Yaris doesn’t feel too slow around town. The engine squeezes out as much power as it can to get the Yaris moving down the road. What makes it even better is the Yaris’s suspension, which is tuned to give it a sportier ride than you might expect, thanks Mazda. The suspension makes the Yaris feel light and agile, without being too harsh. The quick steering also helps.
The Yaris is rated at 32 mpg city, 40 mpg highway and 35 mpg combined. Those specs compare well to the Fit, which gets up to 33 mpg city, 40 mpg highway and 36 mpg combined. The Kia Rio 5-Door is rated at 33/41/36 mpg.
Inside you’ll prob be surprised to see a clean, yet stylish interior with high quality materials. If you’ve spent time in a Mazda lately, you’ll feel right at home in the Yaris hatchback as well, since the only big difference here between the Mazda and the Toyota is the Toyota badge on the steering wheel. The interior also comes standard with a six-speaker audio system, Apple CarPlay, Android Auto and a push-button start. If you go with the XLE trim level you also get leatherette seats, automatic climate control, rain-sensing wipers and automatic headlights.
The Yaris may have a nice interior, but if space is something you’re looking for you’ll want to check out the Fit. The Yaris’s interior feels snug and the front seats are a bit on the small size. After just an hour in the Yaris our backs weren’t very happy. The rear is also a tight fit for most passengers. The Yaris offers 34.3 inches of rear legroom, while the Fit has 39.3 cubic feet of leg space. As you move to the rear the Yaris hatchback has 15.9 cubic feet of cargo space, which is nearly identical to the 16.6 cubic feet in the Fit. The EPA says that the Yaris has 86.71 cubic feet of passenger volume compared to up to 95.7 cubic feet in the Honda Fit.
In the latest Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) crash tests, the Yaris hatchback earned the top score of good in the five crashworthiness tests, but its headlights were rated as poor. The Yaris hatchback also doesn’t come with many of the latest driver assistance features, like a blind spot monitor, adaptive cruise control or lane departure warning. But it does have a low-speed pre-collision system that automatically applies the brakes if the driver doesn’t respond to the audio and visual alerts that a front crash is possible.
The 2020 Toyota Yaris hatchback is offered in two trim levels, LE and XLE. The Yaris hatchback LE starts at $18,705, including the destination fees, while the XLE starts at $19,705.
The 2020 Toyota Yaris hatchback is a huge improvement over the last generation. The 2020 Yaris hatchback is fun to drive, comes with the latest tech features and gets great gas mileage, which makes it the near perfect match for buyers that are looking for a small practical hatchback.