2010 Toyota Yaris sedan
2010 Toyota Yaris sedan. Click image to enlarge

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2010 Toyota Yaris

Now into its fourth model year, the subcompact Toyota Yaris sedan has received some needed safety upgrades for 2010 to keep it up to date with newer competitors, such as the all-new 2011 Ford Fiesta sedan. Anti-lock brakes, previously optional on the Yaris sedan, are now standard. Electronic stability control, formerly unavailable, is now optional as part of the Enhanced Convenience Package ($2,800). Brake Assist, a panic braking assistance system, has also been added to that package. And 2010 Yaris sedans built after December, 2009 come with standard front seat side airbags and side curtain airbags – these were previously optional.

However, some optional features were deleted for 2010: the Convenience Package deletes power heated mirrors, while the Enhanced Convenience Package deletes alloy wheels, wheel locks, and fog lamps. The Appearance Package, which included alloy wheels, fog lights and cruise control, is gone altogether, as is the optional Aero Package, which included stylish spoilers and side sills.

2010 Toyota Yaris sedan
2010 Toyota Yaris sedan
2010 Toyota Yaris sedan. Click image to enlarge

Bottom line: the 2010 Yaris sedan is safer for its occupants, but not quite as pretty.

The price has gone up too. In 2009, the Yaris sedan listed at $13,945 plus $1,120 Freight. When the 2010 Yaris sedan was introduced in the fall of 2009, its base price was $14,750 plus a $1,280 Freight charge, but the MSRP increased to $14,990 on January 5, 2010 – probably because of the additional side and curtain airbags. That’s about one-thousand dollars more than the 2009 price.

Compared to other subcompacts, the Yaris sedan’s base price is considerably higher. Competitors include the Nissan Versa sedan ($12,698), Ford Fiesta sedan ($12,999), Kia Rio sedan ($13,695), Chevrolet Aveo sedan ($14,150), and Hyundai Accent sedan ($14,299). In most cases, the Yaris sedan’s higher price can be justified by its higher level of standard equipment, but the new 2011 Fiesta sedan includes standard ABS, stability control, traction control, and six airbags for $2,000 less; and it’s available with an optional six-speed automatic transmission compared to the Yaris’ four-speed automatic.

It’s quite likely that the Fiesta’s suite of standard features forced Toyota to upgrade the Yaris sedan midway through the model year – and other subcompacts will have to follow suit in order to compete too.

Pricing and standard equipment

Standard equipment on the 2010 Toyota Yaris sedan ($14,990) includes a 106-hp 1.5-litre four-cylinder engine and five-speed manual transmission, 15-inch all-season tires and steel wheels with covers, body-coloured bumpers, AM/FM/CD/MP3 stereo with auxiliary jack and four speakers, tachometer, height adjustable driver’s seat and tilt/telescopic steering wheel, variable-assist power steering, 60/40 split folding rear seatbacks with fold-down centre armrest, illuminated entry, five head restraints, six airbags, rear door child locks, child seat anchor points and tether hooks, engine immobilizer, digital clock, front and rear cupholders, manual mirrors, intermittent wipers, and rear defroster.

2010 Toyota Yaris sedan
2010 Toyota Yaris sedan. Click image to enlarge

Individual options are a four-speed automatic transmission ($1,000) and air conditioning ($1,155). Option packages include the Convenience Package ($1,630) with air conditioning, power windows, power door locks, keyless entry, body coloured mirrors and door handles, blacked-out side window frames, front and rear splash guards, and chrome trim on the trunk; and the Enhanced Convenience Package ($2,560) which includes everything in the Convenience Package plus Brake Assist, Vehicle Stability Control, front side airbags, front and rear side curtain airbags, cruise control, and power heated mirrors.

Our test car, which was built before side and curtain airbags were made standard, had a base MSRP of $14,750, and included the optional automatic transmission ($1,000) and the Convenience Package ($1,600). With Freight ($1,280), the as-tested price came to $18,630.

Interior impressions
2010 Toyota Yaris sedan
2010 Toyota Yaris sedan
2010 Toyota Yaris sedan
2010 Toyota Yaris sedan. Click image to enlarge

The Yaris sedan has a surprisingly roomy interior – though not quite as roomy as the boxy Nissan Versa’s. The Yaris’ front seats are very comfortable and supportive: the seamless, sculpted design of the cushions and backrests conforms to individual body shapes, almost as though they were custom designed. The seat cushion is height adjustable with a manual lever, but there is no lumbar adjuster – but, I didn’t really miss it. The only improvement I can suggest is seat heaters for winter.

The Yaris sedan’s 2550 mm (100.4 in.) wheelbase is 90 mm longer than the Yaris hatchback’s which adds rear seat legroom – as well, the raised front seats provide generous footroom under the front seats. Rear headroom, though, is just adequate for an adult, and the rear seat is only wide enough for two adults, though there are three head restraints and three three-point safety belts. A centre rear armrest with a single cupholder folds down between the rear seats, and another cupholder is found at the back of the centre console.

For the driver, the unusual position of the tachometer and speedometer on the centre dashtop takes a while to get used to because it requires the driver to turn their head slightly to the right to see how fast they’re going. As well, the digital fuel gauge, clock and trip odometer look rather small from the driver’s seat. However, because the centre instruments are further away, it requires less refocusing of the eyes from the road. That’s the theory, but personally, I still prefer gauges behind the steering wheel. To me, the centrally positioned instrument cluster still looks weird, even after all these years.

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