The hatchback model of Toyota’s nifty Yaris subcompact car was discontinued for 2019, but an all-new 2020 version is now on the market. Like the 2020 Yaris sedan, the 2020 Yaris hatchback is based on Mazda’s current Mazda2, a car not available in the United States.
Toyota offers the new Yaris Hatchback in two trims: LE and XLE. They are both mono-spec, meaning they come with specific standard features and no optional equipment is available. But the standard features aren’t paltry.
Features of the LE grade include halogen headlights, fog lights, 16-inch wheels, fabric sport front bucket seats, 60/40 split fold-flat rear seats, remote keyless entry with push button start, a backup camera, six-speaker audio system with 7-inch touchscreen display, SiriusXM satellite radio, Android Auto and Apple CarPlay compatibility, Bluetooth, an auxiliary port and two USB ports.
To the list of LE features, the XLE adds rain-sensing variable intermittent windshield wipers, a tilt and telescoping steering wheel with controls for audio, cruise, and phone. The XLE also has automatic climate control, LED headlights with auto on/off, and leatherette rather than fabric for the seats.
Both models are powered by a capable four-cylinder engine with 106 horsepower, paired with a fluent six-speed automatic transmission. The fuel economy rating is a splendid 32 mpg city, 40 mpg highway, and 35 mpg combined.
Base pricing with a $955 destination charge included is $18,705 for the LE, and $19,705 for the XLE.
The term “affordable subcompact” can sometimes be used to flatter an uncomfortable, flimsy car. The 2020 Yaris Hatchback is affordable and a subcompact, but uncomfortable and flimsy it is not.
The Mazda effect is apparent in the new Yaris Hatchback’s appealing exterior and interior design. Toyota says its cab-rearward design gives the 2020 Yaris Hatchback “a distinct hunkered-down, bulldog-like stance,” and as a dog lover I can’t top that description.
The interior is neat, tidy, and artistic, and has been assembled with precision. It’s also pretty quiet. Driver and front passenger are given enough space to keep from feeling cramped. Rear seat room is decent, but as expected in a subcompact, leg room is scarce. Cargo space, on the other hand, is impressive: 15.86 cubic feet.
The Mazda chassis gives the new Yaris Hatchback sportier handling, and there’s a Sport driving mode if you think even better response would be nice.
One of my favorite things about driving the Yaris Hatchback was how effortlessly I could maneuver through parking lots and whip into tight parking spaces. The car’s turning radius is only 32.2 feet. To put that into perspective: On a narrow street in downtown Everett with diagonal parking, I was able to turn into a space intended for cars coming in the opposite direction, and I didn’t even have to straighten the car out. It was perfectly in the space. It was thrilling. Probably illegal, but at least there were no cars coming when I did it.
2020 TOYOTA YARIS HATCHBACK XLE
Base price, including destination charge: $19,705
Price as driven: $19,705
Mary Lowry is an independent automotive writer who lives in Snohomish County. She is a member of the Motor Press Guild, and a member and past president of the Northwest Automotive Press Association. Vehicles are provided by the manufacturers as a one-week loan for review purposes only. In no way do the manufacturers control the content of the reviews.