Behind the Wheel

2020 Toyota Yaris review: This ‘Yota is a Mazda that’s better than its price

The 2020 Toyota Yaris punches above its weight.

Photo courtesy of Toyota Motor Sales U.S.A. Inc.

Folks are always fascinated about what I do for a living. "Oh, you drive a different car every week? That's so exciting!"

What follows is a fairly predictable set of questions. "What's your favorite car?" (Rolls-Royce Wraith). "Have you ever driven on a race track?" (Numerous times.) "What's the fastest you've driven?" (180 MPH in a Porsche Panamera on the Autobahn in Germany.)

But then I'll start asking them questions, trying to learn about what they drive and why. What car do you have and why did you buy it? What other cars did you consider? What do you look for in an automobile?

2020 Toyota Yaris The Yaris has Toyota looks up front.Photo courtesy of Toyota Motor Sales U.S.A. Inc.

It's my own form of market research. I can't review a car if I don't understand who my reader is and how to best guide them. It's part of why I don't dive too deep into horsepower and performance figures — I've found that, performance cars excepted, most vehicles perform adequately for the everyday tasks that people buy them for.

That brings us to this week's car, which is perhaps one of the least-interesting cars I've tested — but in a very good way. The sub-$20,000 2020 Toyota Yaris Hatchback is aimed solidly at folks who want an affordable, entry-level vehicle that's safe, practical, and with just a touch of luxury-ishness.

My tester was the (slightly) fancier XLE trim, pricing out at $19,680. It's equipped with an adequate if unexciting 1.5-liter four-cylinder engine churning out a whopping 106-horsepower. The engine might be tiny, but it comes with the added bonus of 32/40/35 mpg (city/highway/combined) fuel economy. It's paired to a six-speed automatic transmission (and a real transmission too, not a continuously variable unit that some folks love to hate).

2020 Toyota Yaris The hatchback is convenient but the car also comes in a sedan variant.Photo courtesy of Toyota Motor Sales U.S.A. Inc.

It has 16-inch wheels, a bunch of airbags, LED headlights, rain-sensing windshield wipers, and a seven-inch color touch screen complete with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. It has push-button start, keyless entry, and power windows, locks and mirrors. Oh, and there's automatic climate control too, which I've seen missing on cars that cost way more than this.

Here's where things get a bit confusing. Toyota sells the Yaris in other markets around the world, and it's their own in-house vehicle. But the Yaris sold in America is a rebadged Mazda2 that's assembled at Mazda's facility in Salamanca, Mexico. It's related to the Toyota Yaris sedan which used to be called the Scion iA, which is also built by Mazda, but also has the Toyota brand on it.

Whatever.

2020 Toyota Yaris The Yaris rides okay, about what you’d expect for a sub-$20,000 vehicle.Photo courtesy of Toyota Motor Sales U.S.A. Inc.

I've driven a lot of Mazdas and a lot of Toyotas, and it's obvious to me that this is a Mazda. That's not a bad thing. Mazdas vehicles have punched above their weight for a long time (I had a 2011 Mazda3 for years, and I've praised them frequently in these pages), bringing both upscale materials and design to lower-priced segments. That's true here too. The Mazda2 — I mean, Toyota Yaris Hatchback — doesn't feel like a stripped down econobox. It's small and maneuverable and the engine, though a little noisy, gets you through traffic nicely.

It's a great new car for a teenager or for someone looking to spend as little money on a new car as possible. New cars, after all, come with new car warranties and can appeal to folks who don't want to imagine what came before when buying something used.

The Yaris competes with the Honda Fit, which is a perennial favorite in this class, and it seems a little nicer and a little more polished, though with less rear-seat legroom if you anticipate carrying adults back there.

2020 Toyota Yaris Even low-cost models have an infotainment screen these days.Photo courtesy of Toyota Motor Sales U.S.A. Inc.

The front is comfortable and attractive enough, with solid buttons and knobs and dials that are all pleasing to touch and fiddle with (which isn't as common as you'd think). It seems to be a better car than it's bargain-basement price would indicate, with a solid ride, comfortable seats and two reliable names behind it.

I took it to Costco (as I have with all my COVID-era test drives) and, with the 60/40 seats folded down, was able to fill it with ease. It swallowed up toilet paper and paper towels and a case of Diet Dr. Pepper and all manner of other things. It's no Rolls-Royce Wraith, but I'd be happy to recommend the little Yaris to someone looking for a new car that won't break the bank.

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New sports car

2022 Subaru BRZ pricing announced

The BRZ is all-new for 2022.

Subaru

Earlier this year, Subaru announced the all-new BRZ sports car, which is coming this fall to replace the previous generation of the car that was discontinued in 2020. It, along with its Toyota cousin, the 86, get more power, updated interiors, and better technology than their predecessors.

The BRZ Premium is the base trim of the car. It starts at $28,955 after destination. Adding an automatic transmission drives the price up by $1,600 to $30,555. The BRZ Limited starts at $31,455 after destination, which shifts to $33,255 with an automatic transmission.


2022 Subaru BRZ The BRZ's compact size and manual transmission make it enthusiast friendly.


The 2022 BRZ gets a new 2.4-liter four-cylinder Boxer engine that produces 228 horsepower. Part of the appeal of small, sporty cars like BRZ is that they are infinitely more fun to drive than larger, more computerized vehicles. To that end, the car comes standard with a six-speed close-ratio manual transmission. Buyers can opt to swap in a six-speed automatic transmission, but that almost defeats the point of the car. A Torsen limited-slip differential, vehicle stability control with track mode, and 17-inch wheels round out the car's standard performance features.

Inside, the BRZ comes with an 8-inch touchscreen that runs Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, Bluetooth, SiriusXM radio, and dual-zone automatic climate controls. A new gauge cluster display can show amps, coolant temperatures, or the car's lateral g-forces, and when track mode is engaged, the tachometer shifts from a circular to a color linear graph.


2022 Subaru BRZ An updated interior and tech are highlights of the new BRZ,

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Updated vehicle lineup

Toyota is going more places in 2022 and beyond

Toyota is giving its spunky 86 sports car a makeover for 2022.

Toyota

"Let's Go Places", Toyota's tagline adopted nearly a decade ago, speaks to the automaker's goal of "evolution and commitment to leading through innovation, enriching lives and connecting with customers in new ways they define". Today, Toyota has sold more than 15 million vehicles and is continuing to innovate with connected technologies and alternative powertrains and is global leader of hybrid electric vehicles.

Toyota plans to offer approximately 70 electrified models globally by 2025, in a lineup that will feature 15 dedicated battery-electric vehicles (BEVs), including seven in the new the "bZ" (Beyond Zero) brand and also plans to bring electrification to its truck lineup.

The Japanese manufacturer recently invited a cadre of journalists to its U.S. headquarters in Plano, Texas, to learn more about the company's latest developments and goals, as well as to hear about new and concept vehicles from both Toyota and luxury stablemate Lexus, during a three-day event that was akin to a Toyota-centric auto show. There were ride and drive opportunities in Plano and at the nearby Eagle Canyon Raceway, with a high-speed track and off-road course and even a "secret reveal" of the all-new Tundra. The breadth of new offerings includes models from every segment of the auto market, ranging from BEV to truck and high-performance.


Toyota bZ4X Concept The bZ4X shows Toyota's vision for its bZ (Beyond Zero) electric sub-brand.Toyota


Of the nearly two dozen vehicles on the roster, we selected the following models to highlight:

**The Toyota bZ4X Concept is Toyota's vision for the first of a global series of battery-electric vehicles sold under the "Toyota bZ" (Beyond Zero) brand. Jointly developed with Subaru, the sleek SUV is close in size to the RAV4 and will have a 300-mile range; the AWD model has stunning and chiseled looks, 20-inch wheels and showcases the new e-TNGA BEV-dedicated platform. Notable is the long wheelbase with short overhangs and open-concept interior, with a "bridge" style center console, a large infotainment screen and a unique digital gauge for instrumentation.

Heralded as the vehicle that revived Toyota's sportscar lineage, the all-new 2022 GR 86 hit the track with pro drivers before meriting its Gazoo Racing badge. The lightweight 2+2 rear-drive sports coupe has been engineered with more rigidity, and a horsepower bump from 205 to 228. Added torque moves the needle from 156 to 184 lb.-ft. from its naturally-aspirated 2.4-liter flat-four boxer engine, when set up with a manual transmission; peak torque is lower in the rpm range to bring a more linear driving feel. Zero to 60 times have dropped from 7 to 6.1 seconds for the manual and moved from 8 to 6.6 seconds for the automatic.

The Gazoo team put their mark on front and rear frame reinforcements; weight-shaving components, such as aluminum roof panels and fenders; new aerodynamic body elements, a functional MATRIX "G" Mesh grille and exterior air vents. The refashioned interior gets race-inspired touches and Alcantara-trimmed front buckets. Onboard are a host of updated technologies and audio/communications features; it comes in two grades, GR 86 and GR 86 Premium.


2022 Toyota Supra A91-CF Toyota will offer just 600 Carbon Fiber Edition Supras when it goes on sale in fall 2021.Toyota


The GR Supra A91-CF (Carbon Fiber) Edition goes on sale in the fall; only 600 will be available in North America. Exterior design features include numerous carbon fiber elements; a functional aero kit; duckbill rear spoiler; special edition forged 19-inch matte-black wheels with red calipers and a Toyota Supra logo; and new colors. Inside the red-and-black themed cabin with Alcantara-and-leather and carbon-fiber trim are heated sport seats and a collection of top standard features. A turbocharged three-liter inline-six with an eight-speed transmission has paddle shifters and brings zero-to-60 in 3.9 seconds. Performance parts include adaptive Variable Sport suspension, an active rear sport differential, and front Brembo brakes with red calipers.

Both cars offer complimentary one-year memberships to the National Auto Sport Association (NASA) comes with instruction from experts and the opportunity to participate in a High-Performance Driving Event.

Two new Tacomas add choices, capability and other new features to Toyota's mid-sized truck lineup.

The 2022 Tacoma TRD Pro bumps up off-road performance with a 1.5-inch front/.05 rear lift; TRD-tuned 2.5-inch Fox internal bypass shocks, and new suspension components, using machine-forged aluminum construction on the pickup's control arms. Toyota Racing Development's upgrades bring improvements that aid in obstacle clearance with a 36.4-degree approach, 24.7-degree departure, and 26.6-degree breakover angles. New black TRD wheels make a wider track width than stock versions, while new Goodyear Territory all-terrain tires have an aggressive sidewall design. A new exclusive Electric Lime Metallic color is added to the mix. New hood graphics are available that complement the blacked-out hood scoop. A color-keyed rear bumper, door handles and power outside mirrors with turn signal indicators will trim the dual-color styling theme, along with black overfenders and new badging. An aluminum front skid plate with red TRD lettering provides additional trail protection. Unique LED headlights with sequential turn signals feature TRD Pro inserts, while Rigid Industries LED fog lights help illuminate the road and trails ahead.


2022 Toyota Tacoma The Tacoma gets even more off-road goodies for the 2022 model year.Toyota


Based on the Tacoma TRD Off-Road 4×4 Double Cab short-bed model, the TRD Pro is powered by a 3.5-liter V6 and is available with a 6-speed manual or 6-speed auto. Nifty features include a Multi Terrain Monitor that displays front-, rear- and side-camera views on the 8-inch multimedia touchscreen; the instrument panel's 4.2-inch color Multi-Information Display has an inclinometer and tilt gauge. Inside are TRD-themed black leather-trimmed heated front seats, TRD shift knob, and TRD Pro all-weather floor mats., plus a standard moonroof and Toyota's Safety Star System, along with a broad array of technologies.

The 2022 Tacoma Trail Edition, built on the Tacoma 4×4 Double Cab, upgrades off-road performance. It is1.1 inches higher in front and boasts an approach angle of 34 degrees; the rear is lifted 0.5 inches for a departure angle of 23.6 degrees; breakover angle is improved at 26.4 degrees. Unique styling comes with four exterior color choices, black badging accents and a new Trail Edition badge on the rear tailgate. Rear bumpers are now color-keyed to match the exterior grille with new unique bronze-colored lettering and new bronze-finished wheels that offer a 0.5-inch wider track width both front and rear and are fitted with new Goodyear all-terrain tires with an aggressive sidewall tread pattern. New is lockable bed storage while the driver's side storage includes insulation and can double as a cooler. It's also equipped with a 120V power outlet in the bed. Standard is a 3.5-liter V6 engine (278 horsepower and 265 lb.-ft. of torque) and locking rear differential, as well as the Tacoma Tow Package, with a maximum towing capacity of 6,400 pounds.

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