It's an okay car. You buy it because it delivers reliability, economy, and excellent fuel mileage. I understand this car is an economy car and it's no Lexus - much less a Camry. I'm not comparing this car to a nicer car brand - it's entry level and I understand that. However, it's still not a car that I would buy again after having driven one - even if I was in the market for an economy car.
Economy - between the infrequent repairs (hasn't had any issues in nine years of ownership), the fuel economy, and the MSRP, it's possibly one of the cheapest to buy and undisputedly cheapest to run used cars out on the market today. It would make an excellent first car or a car for someone who just doesn't like driving and needs something easy to commute to work in.
Reliability - In 9 1/2 years of ownership (we bought this car in April 2006), we have had zero issues with it. Nada. Nothing. It is a solid little car - that's expected of most Toyotas or Hondas however.
Driving Dynamics - This car is scary on the highway. Trying to accelerate on a freeway entrance ramp is extremely difficult and downright dangerous. It's pretty peppy around the city, but trying to pass someone in this car is not for the faint at heart. Additionally, this car is from an era when electric assisted power steering was not quite as refined as it is today, so the steering feels pretty loose and a little "off" compared to older cars with hydraulic power steering. This gives the steering a "numb" feeling. I know this is a pretty subjective word to use, but the car just feels weird to drive. It's almost like driving a toy car or a golf cart. With an antiquated four speed automatic transmission, the engine gets pretty buzzy and it doesn't shift very smoothly.
Interior - Because of the starting price, I forgive the fact that there is hard plastics virtually everywhere, even on most places where your elbows rest. However, the interior is a bit too "Scion" in my opinion and not in a good way. Perhaps one of the biggest design flaws is the center mounted speedometer. Everyone in my family who has driven this car has had a few speeding tickets because it's easy to ignore the speedometer. I understand Toyota removed this in the newer generation of Yaris - thank goodness. Still - the center mounted speedometer is something that is hard to forgive and offers no benefit over a traditional steering wheel mounted speedometer. It's a classic example of form over function. Also, the seats are EXTREMELY uncomfortable - I often find myself hunching over the steering wheel with upper back pain because the seats are not very plush. The cloth is not soft and just feels really thin and not durable. The sound system is absolutely awful. Again - I get this is an economy car, but even my 2008 Toyota Corolla has a much better sounding stereo than the Yaris. The interior quality starts to show its age. We barely drive the car, but the plastics still rattle like crazy. The engine is extremely buzzy and there is a great deal of road noise in the cabin. The visibility is not terrible, but the exterior design gives it a pretty tall rear end, making the rear window a bit small. It also has EXTREMELY thick A-pillars which unfortunately block your view of pedestrians in the crosswalk. Overall, the interior of the Yaris is one of it's most pitiful downfalls.
Safety - this car seems like the perfect fit for your teenage daughter or God forbid your son (don't get him a Yaris). However - just look at the side impact crash test scores. The Yaris did NOT come with side impact airbags standard. This car is a death trap in a T-bone accident, which is the deadliest form of accident. Not to mention, a lot of these Yarisi have virtually NO anti-theft protection. This car doesn't even have a chipped key - so anyone with a screwdriver can start the car. Toyotas tend to be one of the most frequently stolen car brand, so the fact that Toyota didn't put this basic safety feature in the car is shameful. Even my 2000 Ford Taurus had a chipped key and thats approaching 16 years old! I wouldn't recommend this car if you live in an area with high car theft rates. IF you do, consider investing in a steering wheel club and/or an aftermarket alarm system.
Honestly - you can get that trademark Toyota reliability with just about any Toyota model out there. Consider investing in a 2000's era Camry instead (especially the '02-'06 generation) or a Toyota Corolla. You'll give up a few MPGs, but you'll get a safer, more comfortable car to commute in.
I loved this car when I bought it- it has a fun, youthful design, great on gas and is fun & zippy to drive. Beware though- this car does not hold up in a crash. I had a head-on collision in 2009 in a Yaris that caused $10,000 damage to the car and bent the frame beyond repair- and the airbags did not deploy. I contacted Toyota about it and got a canned response stating that I wasn't hit hard enough to set off the airbags - but it was sufficient to bend the frame beyond repair and left me with a concussion from hitting my head among other injuries.
When I bought a Corolla my insurance rate dropped considerably due to the lower risk of death or severe disability in the event of a collision..
Safety is lacking in this vehicle. I would never buy another Yaris though I really liked the design of the interior and the fuel efficiency.
Great car , I have had this car for 2 years and bought it with 50k and it now has 71k , Not a single problem whatsoever, besides changing oil and other basic maintenance that is ALL, this car lives up to its legendary Toyota reliability
I enjoy the road handling and acceleration of this economical joy. What I want to share with you is the accident experience I had; a front end accident on highway of stopped traffic. I was traveling about 60 mph and saw traffic stopped. I signaled to change lanes, but no one would move over. I slammed on brakes and impacted going 45 mph. I had the entire front hood and front suspension system rebuilt. You cannot tell we had the accident. Auto body staff said who ever built this car knew what they were doing. I was surprised the air bag didnot inflate, but I was safe and the dollar savings was significant. Additionally storage in trunk and access to passengers continues to impress me
Ease of steering, good acceleration, efficiencies of mpg and total costs, site lines and good seat support