2009 Toyota Yaris 5-door Liftback Review – The True Smart Car

Expert Reviews Toyota

2009 Toyota Yaris
By Derek Mau


  • Passengers get their own door and ample leg room
  • Versatile split rear folding seats
  • Spirited cornering
  • Excellent value


  • Engine is tuned for economy, not performance
  • Thin sheetmetal designed to save weight

The Toyota 5-door Yaris looks and feels about right as the utility vehicle for the new economy. It is cheap, roomy, economical and versatile. And it accomplishes all of this with a bit of style and flare. Its EPA numbers of 29 City/35 Highway is not quite at the level of the tiny Smart Fortwo’s mpg of 33/41. But we believe the Yaris is a better car in every respect and it is the smarter choice.

The 5 doors are a minor miracle because the car has the same dimensions as the 3-door model. They inserted two more doors and they are not cramped or awkward at all. The doors look and feel normal. And with kids and other passengers, the extra doors are a blessing. It’s easier for the passengers and you don’t have deal with with folding your driver seat every time. We believe a car should only have less doors if it looks a heck of a lot cooler than the 5 door model. In this case, they’re equal in looks so the 5-door wins for utility.

5 doors are a blessing for passengers Yaris 60/40 split folding rear seat 60/40 split folding rear seat folds flat

The real revelation to us is the space and versatility of the rear luggage compartment. It’s a split folding rear seat plus the seats can independently slide forwards and backwards to optimize for passenger or luggage room. There’s so many options available for configuring passengers and luggage. Essentially, it offers minivan versatility in a micro package. The rear leg room was quite impressive, as well. Your kids can ride in the back with you all the way until they’re full grown adults.

I liked driving this car around town. It steered and handled well and it was comfortable even on rough surfaces. It is so light that it cornered pretty well without a lot of excess weight pushing you out of a corner. Steering was quite good and was not mushy nor did it have a lot of play unlike a lot of cars in this price range. And the interior, although minimalist was clean and functional

Yaris 5-door liftback rear cargo area Yaris 5-door liftback rear cargo area easily fits bikes Yaris 105 hp 1.5L VVTi engine

What didn’t we like? Well the engine sounds like a sewing machine when pushed. It was very happy at constant speeds and was quite content accelerating slowly around town. But if you mash the throttle and attempted some spirited driving, you are greeting by unpleasant noises and not a lot of acceleration. And of course the car feels light and the sheetmetal feels thin. But this is to be expected of course at this price range.

So with the Toyota Yaris 5-door liftback, you get quite a car for the base price of $13,300. We would recommend the $1,580 power package particularly because it includes the versatile folding rear seats. For value and versatility and economy, we fully recommend the Yaris 5-door.

Toyota Yaris rear cargo space

Build Interior Performance Handling Styling Value Overall
Rating 4.5 4.5 3.5 4.5 4.5 5.0 4.5/A-

Toyota Yaris Photo Gallery

Toyota Corolla Specs

Toyota Yaris Specs

ToyotaThe official website of Toyota – www.toyota.com

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