Used Toyota Yaris (Mk4, 2020-date) review
A full used review on the Toyota Yaris covering the Yaris Mk4 that has been on sale since 2020
The Yaris is Toyota’s biggest-selling car, and it’s easy to see why it’s so popular. When it arrived in 2020, it scooped our Affordable Hybrid Car of the Year award – a feat that it repeated the following two years. Meanwhile, many outlets voted the GR Yaris Hot Hatch of the Year in 2021, and we gave it our Performance Car of the Year award that year. So whether you want a supermini that puts the emphasis on economy and affordability, or a hot hatch that provides thrills aplenty on every drive, the Yaris might be just what you’re after. If you need a car for regular long-distance motorway drives you might be disappointed by the hybrid’s fuel economy. But otherwise, the Yaris will probably hit the spot.
Toyota was one of the first Japanese brands to bring its products to the UK, way back in the mid-sixties. Within less than three decades it had established its own manufacturing base here, in Derbyshire, and from there things took off.
Famed for its good reliability, Toyota has been criticised a lot over the years for its unadventurous styling and bland dynamics. The original Yaris was a case in point, even though it was the 2000 European Car of the Year – a feat that the Mk4 version replicated in 2021. However, by this point Toyota’s supermini was much more rounded, with its more engaging driving experience and far more eye-catching exterior design. Even better, the latest Yaris seems to be just as reliable as you’d expect a Toyota to be.
The fourth-generation Toyota Yaris went on sale in the UK in August 2020, priced between £19,910 for the entry-level Icon, and £24,005 for the Launch Edition. The regular range-topper was the £22,220 Excel; the Launch Edition was based on the mid-range Yaris Dynamic and also came with a two-tone paint finish, a head-up display, blue ambient cabin lighting plus power-folding door mirrors.
Car group tests
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Used car tests
One hybrid powertrain made up the regular UK line-up, a three-cylinder 1.5-litre petrol engine, backed up by an electric motor. In December 2021, GR Sport trim was added to the range, not to be confused with the GR Yaris, which had gone on sale 18 months earlier. With a focus on performance over economy, the GR Yaris sold out almost immediately, leading to long waiting lists.
Which one should I buy?
Because most Yaris Mk4s are the same mechanically, it’s just a question of working out which colour and trim level you want. However, the GR Yaris is a completely different animal altogether; its focus on performance over economy means it’s the polar opposite of the regular Yaris.
Stick with the hybrid and there are five trim levels to choose between, starting with the Icon. This comes with 16-inch alloys, a seven-inch touchscreen display, reversing camera, DAB radio, climate control, plus automatic headlights and wipers.
The Design has an eight-inch screen, LED headlights and privacy glass, while the Dynamic has 17-inch wheels, artificial leather sports seats, dual-zone climate control and a JBL premium hi-fi. The Excel adds power-folding door mirrors, front and rear parking sensors and keyless go.
Alternatives to the Toyota Yaris
There are lots of superminis out there to choose from, but if you want one with a hybrid powertrain, there are just a couple for now: the Honda Jazz and the Renault Clio E-Tech. The Jazz is incredibly roomy and versatile, ultra-reliable and easy to drive, while the Renault is well equipped and has a great interior, but it’s not as readily available as the Jazz.
If you don’t need hybrid power, the SEAT Ibiza, Skoda Fabia and VW Polo are all worth a look, just like the Kia Rio, Hyundai i20 and Citroen C3 – and don’t forget the multi-talented Ford Fiesta or the Mazda 2.
What to look for
GR Sport is the rarest trim option. It comes with the standard engine, but features 18-inch alloys and firmer suspension.
If comfort is a priority, buy an Icon or Dynamic model. Their 16-inch wheels provide a smoother ride than the 17-inch items fitted to the Excel.
Not many people will buy a Toyota Yaris for its towing capabilities, but if you’re one of them, note that it’s limited to just 450kg.
The GR Yaris came in standard, Convenience and Circuit Pack forms. The former added some tech items; the latter offered some sporty upgrades.
Of the Yaris owners who replied to our 2022 Driver Power new-car survey, 13.5 per cent experienced a fault with their car. The most common issues were electrical, particularly affecting the driver-assistance systems and active safety features.
The cabin is constructed to a very high standard, but its design isn’t very inspiring, with lots of black plastic. Everything is clearly laid out and it’s user-friendly, although the infotainment is a bit dated.
Treat the Yaris as a two-seater and you’ll have ample cabin space, but the back seats are tight for anyone close to six feet tall. Boot space is on the small side at 286 litres with the back seats in place; drop them and this rises to 947 litres.
All Yaris Mk4s benefit from Toyota’s Touch 2 infotainment system, although the Icon only has a seven-inch touchscreen, whereas the rest have an eight-inch unit. The system isn’t very clear, with too many sub-menus, but the screen itself is well placed and the control knobs are easy to use.
Buy a Yaris with the 1.5-litre hybrid powertrain and it’ll need to be serviced every year or 10,000 miles, whereas the GR Yaris cuts this to every 12 months or 6,000 miles. Unusually, on top of this, the GR Yaris should also be taken in for a safety check every six months, which will set you back £50.
Services alternate between minor and major for all versions of the Yaris; these are priced at £190 and £310 respectively. The cost is identical for both regular hybrid and rally-inspired GR Yaris editions, because the same work is carried out on every model at each service.
The brake fluid needs to be replaced every other year and the cost of this is taken into account with the major service. Meanwhile, the coolant is checked and topped up as necessary at each service. All Yaris engines are chain-driven, so there’s no cambelt to replace.
Toyota has recalled the Yaris Mk4 on three occasions so far. The first time was in October 2020, because 106 Yaris and Aygo models made in June of that year were fitted with faulty headlight units, which didn’t allow the driver to switch between high and low beams (or vice versa). Once that was dealt with, the next recall arrived in January 2021, because 4,015 Yaris models built between July and October 2020 were fitted with rear seatbelts that could be damaged in some scenarios by the sharp edges of their retaining brackets; the solution was to fit a protective cover to the bracket.
The most recent campaign came in June 2012, because 19,992 examples made between July 2020 and April 2021 featured faulty software, which prevented the ESP from working properly. The fix was a software update.
Driver Power owner satisfaction
The Yaris Mk4 came 22nd out of 75 entries in the 2022 Driver Power new-car survey, behind the Kia Rio (third overall) and MINI hatch (11th) in the supermini segment. The Toyota didn’t score badly in any area, although its lowest scores were for its small boot and the usability of its navigation. There were just two top-10 scores – seventh for brakes and sixth for fuel economy – but most scores were in the top half of the table.
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