2008 Toyota Yaris Review


Pros & Cons

  • Very fuel-efficient, comfortable ride, handsome interior, liftback's available multifunction rear seat.
  • Acceleration-sapping automatic transmission, awkward seating position, centrally placed gauges.
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Edmunds' Expert Review

The 2008 Toyota Yaris broadens it lineup and appeal with a new sport liftback, but still faces tough competition from other worthy rivals in the crowded subcompact segment.

Vehicle overview

The subcompact economy class has traditionally been characterized by products that could be summed up in a single word: cheap. As in, cheap price, cheap design, cheap materials and cheap construction. And while that's still true in a relative sense, today's highly competitive marketplace has forced the low end of the automotive spectrum to evolve along with the rest of the industry in terms of quality standards, feature content and overall bang for the buck. For proof of this, look no further than the 2008 Toyota Yaris.

Introduced last year, the Yaris replaced the mediocre and oddly proportioned Echo as the least expensive offering in Toyota's showroom. For the budget-conscious shopper, it's a much better product all the way around -- one that combines attractive styling and outstanding fuel economy with competitive equipment levels, respectable performance and a general likability that was lacking in its predecessor.

The Yaris is available as a spunky three-door hatchback coupe (liftback in Toyota-speak) or a much longer and roomier four-door sedan with more conservative styling. These body styles are further differentiated inside by distinctive instrument panels and an available multifunction rear seat in the liftback that slides, reclines and folds to make up for its tighter rear quarters. For 2008, the littlest Toyota broadens its appeal further with a sporty new "S" hatchback to complement the existing uplevel S sedan. This model features larger 15-inch wheels, body-color front and rear spoilers, reworked rocker panels, amber-illuminated Optitron instrumentation, upgraded seats with sport fabric, leather-wrapped steering wheel and shift knob, a CD player with MP3 capability and other extras.

Considering its entry-level nature, the Yaris has a lot going for it. In addition to excellent fuel economy, which counts for a lot in this segment, the Yaris reflects Toyota-style quality and is a competent performer that's stylish enough to avoid embarrassment when you leave it with the parking attendant (although don't expect it to be parked out front).

As decent as the 2008 Toyota Yaris is, however, there are several other subcompacts that deserve your attention. The Chevy Aveo and Kia Rio offer similar body style choices at slightly lower price tags, while the Nissan Versa and Honda Fit are desirable alternatives at a slightly higher price. Another choice to consider is the Yaris-based all-new Scion xD (replacing the xA), which should appeal to more youthful buyers seeking funky styling, vehicle customization and high-tech stereo options.

Although the Fit and xD are our top choices in the segment, they are available only as four-door hatchbacks, a body style Americans generally consider the absolute embodiment of undesirable transportation. That leaves the Yaris as a leading choice for those buyers who prioritize getting into a new sedan for the cheapest price possible. And while that price may be cheap, the Yaris goes to show that cheap doesn't have to be a bad thing.

2008 Toyota Yaris models

The 2008 Toyota Yaris subcompact is offered as a three-door hatchback coupe (dubbed liftback) or four-door sedan in two trim levels. Standard models are pretty basic, with 14-inch steel wheels, intermittent windshield wipers, air-conditioning, four-way adjustable front seats and a tilt steering wheel. S-trim equipment levels vary between coupes and sedans, but share 15-inch steel wheels, a ground-effects body kit and a CD/MP3 stereo with an auxiliary audio jack. Many model-specific package upgrades are available and include items like 15-inch alloy wheels, powered accessories, cruise control (sedan only), 60/40-split-folding rear seat (sedan), a sliding and reclining rear seat (liftback), a rear window defroster and upgraded interior trim. Remote keyless entry, foglamps and a rear spoiler are also offered as stand-alone factory options on all models. A full range of Toyota accessories are available to further personalize the Yaris.

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2008 Highlights

Introduced last year, the affordable 2008 Toyota Yaris adds a sporty three-door "S" hatchback to its lineup, which shares features like 15-inch wheels, front and rear spoilers, CD/MP3 player and other upgrades with its S sedan counterpart.

Performance & mpg

All Toyota Yaris models are equipped with a 1.5-liter four-cylinder engine that produces 106 horsepower and 103 pound-feet of torque. Power is transmitted to the front wheels through a standard five-speed manual or an optional four-speed automatic transmission. The Yaris accelerates adequately with the manual gearbox, but off-the-line performance feels sluggish with the automatic. EPA-estimated fuel economy with the manual transmission checks in at 29 mpg city and 36 mpg highway (35 mpg highway with the automatic). These figures are among the best found in the economy car segment.


As you might expect given its entry-level price tag, popular safety features like antilock brakes, front seat-mounted side airbags and side curtain airbags are optional on the Yaris. In government crash testing, the 2008 Toyota Yaris sedan earned four stars out of five for front occupant protection during frontal impacts. In side impacts without the optional airbag package, it received a middle-of-the-road three-star rating for front and rear occupants. The liftback model outperformed the sedan in frontal impact testing by scoring a perfect five stars for driver protection. In Insurance Institute for Highway Safety tests, the Yaris earned the highest possible rating of "Good" for frontal-offset collisions. Side-impact testing also yielded a "Good" rating with the optional side airbags, but the lowest "Poor" score without.


The 2008 Toyota Yaris travels down the road with a reasonably solid feel. The electric power steering is mostly devoid of feel, but its super-light touch makes maneuvering easy. The Yaris' small four-cylinder engine is surprisingly peppy with the manual transmission, and reasonably smooth even when operating at higher speeds. Off-the-line acceleration suffers with the automatic transmission, but both combinations deliver enough midrange power for confident merging and passing on the highway.


With 3 more inches of wheelbase and nearly 20 additional inches of overall length compared to the hatchback, the Yaris sedan is a space-efficient and reasonably roomy choice among subcompacts. As you might expect, the sedan is the more conservatively styled of the two, both inside and out. The hatchback offers optional sliding and reclining rear seats that add versatility and help compensate for its more restrictive backseat space.

Though both models feature centrally located instrumentation, the hatchback's dashboard is quite a bit different from the one found in the sedan and contains three gloveboxes -- including one uniquely positioned behind the steering wheel -- plus an unusually narrow center stack that coordinates well with its more playful exterior design.

The interior is not without its foibles. Those center-mounted instruments pull your eyes away from the road, while tall drivers will find the driving position akin to sitting atop a stool. Also, the tilt steering wheel cheaply drops like a 4-ton anchor when its lever is released.

Consumer reviews

Read what other owners think about the Used 2008 Toyota Yaris.

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Most helpful consumer reviews

Feels like it was just built at 108k
Calvin Luchs,05/18/2016
2dr Hatchback (1.5L 4cyl 5M)
A hand full of these had intermittent water pump failure. this was pretty rare, but if you're looking used inspect near the water pump for pink crust, it's a dead give away. That out of the way, I am a regular sized college student. I got this to be reliable, hearty, and get good fuel economy. I have slammed 15000 miles on it in the year I've owned it, and It has had literally nothing wrong. No squeaks, rattles, nothing. I put oil in it. That is it. If you're a guy living in america, your buddies may jag you off about this car at first but the fact of the matter is I drove to my friends house to help him fix his Lincoln in my little Toyota. Another friend with a jeep attempted to join us but his car caught fire. You will outlast anything but perhaps old Honda motorcycles with this car. For some anecdotal stuff: -I have driven in one pittsburgh winter and with half life all seasons I had no trouble getting up steep, 4 to 5 inch deep snow packed gradients. AWD cop cars were sliding down the hill past me, but the yaris kept on going. -I put my girlfriend, her dog and it's crate, and a week and a half worth of food in the back (Seats down) and drove 790 miles to Maryland and averaged 39 mpg doing it. coming back i actually got 42. On a straight highway drive at 60 miles per hour i can actually get 49 mpg reliably, with the 5 speed manual. -I learned to drive stick in this car, and even with me buggering the clutch repeatedly while learning, The shifts are quick and easy, and the clutch is a little on the tighter side when new, but it wears nicely and lasts a long time. There is nothing difficult about working on this car, and usually i don't need to jack it up for routine maintenance because it sits rather high on it's wheels, which also gives good visibility. The suspension isn't sophisticated, but it works pretty well, and the seats are awesome. You can take some pretty serious bumps without suffering in this car. Had one minor accident, sun got in my eyes and I lost sight of the road and at about 15 miles an hour slammed into a lady in a big old saturn station wagon. No damage whatsoever. Tires are cheap as dirt, and so is just about everything else for this car. Overall I love it. and If you're worried your more "Merica" friends will give you garbage, they probably will, but by the time their dodge has eaten it's 9th transmission in 45k miles, they'll come to love the car of the person who's repeatedly bailed them out and helped keep their scrap on the road :) Comfy, reliable, cheap and easy to fix and run, and everything is bolted together to a german- like standard of build quality, with a toyota- like standard of precision and engineering. Fantastic car.
The Most Reliable Car Ever
2dr Hatchback (1.5L 4cyl 5M)
First, a little about myself. I am a 55 year old male who has owned more than a dozen cars in his lifetime, including trucks, SUVs, minivans, and a variety of small cars including Hondas, Toyotas, and Fords, dating back to the 1970s. Without a doubt, this is the most reliable and lowest cost of ownership car I have ever owned. I bought it new for $12,000 and it is now nearing 100K miles. Other than oil changes and topping off the fluids, and changing tires, it is maintenance free. Manual transmission has been fun to drive, easy to keep up with the traffic flow at speeds up to 70 mph. Mileage is 38-42mpg. Who needs a hybrid? Headroom is fine and the hatchback is convenient.
Still Going Strong
Cindy Sanders,04/06/2015
4dr Sedan (1.5L 4cyl 5M)
Rather than write a review of a vehicle I've had for a few months, I've waited 5.5 years. I bought this car brand new November of 2008. I love this car. For the price, this vehicle can't be beat. I consistently get around 40 mpg and that includes stop and go traffic. I'm also just over 142,000 miles with only replacing the serpentine belt and standard oil changes. I'm still using the original brakes and clutch. The paint is still in excellent condition and the interior still looks great. For a base model, no bells and whistles, great for everyday use, with great reliability, you can't get anything better.
2008 sedan still going strong
S 4dr Sedan (1.5L 4cyl 5M)
Bought it new in 2008. Coming up on 195,000 miles. Most reliable car I have ever had. Just routine things like oil changes and tires. Replaced the belt at 150,000 miles. It has a timing chain, not a belt so as long as you change the oil on schedule that will never be a problem. My Mechanic says its in excellent shape, it will last me several more years. I am retired, so I drive it on vacations a lot, it has been in 45 of the lower 48 states. Engine is amazing for a 1.5 I regularly cruise at 80 to 85, and you dont even feel it. Regularly gets 40 mpg combined. Only thing I do not have that I should have gotten is cruise control, and you can get one with it. Great little car, was only 13,000 brand new. I am a big guy, and what sold me on it was the great drivers head room.


NHTSA Overall Rating

The National Highway Transportation Safety Administration offers independent analysis.
  • Frontal Barrier Crash Rating
    OverallNot Rated
    Driver5 / 5
    Passenger4 / 5
  • Side Crash Rating
    OverallNot Rated
  • Side Barrier Rating
    OverallNot Rated
    Driver3 / 5
    Passenger3 / 5
  • Combined Side Barrier & Pole Ratings
    Front SeatNot Rated
    Back SeatNot Rated
  • Rollover
    Rollover4 / 5
    Dynamic Test ResultNo Tip
    Risk Of RolloverNot Rated
IIHS Rating
The Insurance Institute of Highway Safety uses extensive crash tests to determine car safety.
  • Side Impact Test
  • Roof Strength Test
    Not Tested
  • Rear Crash Protection / Head Restraint
  • IIHS Small Overlap Front Test
    Not Tested
  • Moderate Overlap Front Test

More about the 2008 Toyota Yaris

Used 2008 Toyota Yaris Overview

The Used 2008 Toyota Yaris is offered in the following submodels: Yaris Hatchback, Yaris Sedan. Available styles include 4dr Sedan (1.5L 4cyl 4A), 2dr Hatchback (1.5L 4cyl 4A), S 4dr Sedan (1.5L 4cyl 4A), 4dr Sedan (1.5L 4cyl 5M), 2dr Hatchback (1.5L 4cyl 5M), S 4dr Sedan (1.5L 4cyl 5M), S 2dr Hatchback (1.5L 4cyl 4A), and S 2dr Hatchback (1.5L 4cyl 5M). Pre-owned Toyota Yaris models are available with a 1.5 L-liter gas engine, with output up to 106 hp, depending on engine type. The Used 2008 Toyota Yaris comes with front wheel drive. Available transmissions include: 4-speed automatic.

What's a good price on a Used 2008 Toyota Yaris?

Shop with Edmunds for perks and special offers on used cars, trucks, and SUVs near Ashburn, VA. Doing so could save you hundreds or thousands of dollars. Edmunds also provides consumer-driven dealership sales and service reviews to help you make informed decisions about what cars to buy and where to buy them.

Which used 2008 Toyota Yarises are available in my area?

Shop Edmunds' car, SUV, and truck listings of over 6 million vehicles to find a cheap new, used, or certified pre-owned (CPO) 2008 Toyota Yaris for sale near. There are currently 1 used and CPO 2008 Yarises listed for sale in your area, with list prices as low as $4,995 and mileage as low as 119654 miles. Simply research the type of car you're interested in and then select a used car from our massive database to find cheap prew-owned vehicles for sale near you. Once you have identified a used vehicle you're interested in, check the AutoCheck vehicle history reports, read dealer reviews, and find out what other owners paid for the Used 2008 Toyota Yaris.

Can't find a used 2008 Toyota Yariss you want in your area? Consider a broader search.

Find a used Toyota Yaris for sale - 12 great deals out of 17 listings starting at $21,244.

Find a used Toyota for sale - 9 great deals out of 17 listings starting at $24,062.

Find a used certified pre-owned Toyota Yaris for sale - 6 great deals out of 20 listings starting at $24,708.

Find a used certified pre-owned Toyota for sale - 3 great deals out of 14 listings starting at $24,795.

Should I lease or buy a 2008 Toyota Yaris?

Is it better to lease or buy a car? Ask most people and they'll probably tell you that car buying is the way to go. And from a financial perspective, it's true, provided you're willing to make higher monthly payments, pay off the loan in full and keep the car for a few years. Leasing, on the other hand, can be a less expensive option on a month-to-month basis. It's also good if you're someone who likes to drive a new car every three years or so.

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