Base Camp: 2020 Toyota Yaris Hatch
Every week, wheels.ca selects a new vehicle on sale in Canada and takes a good look at its entry-level trim. If we find it worthy of your consideration, we'll let you know. If not, we'll recommend one that earns a passing grade.
Despite cries of ‘Save the Manuals’ from various and sundry gearhead nerds (*raises hand*), the Canadian market still has a few good options for those who like a row-your-own driving experience. Thanks to our famous frugality as a country – at least when it comes to cars – some of them are even affordable little hatchbacks that are not available south of the border.
To be clear, the cheapest of all Yarises (Yari?) is sold in America but the six-speed manual transmission is unique to Canada. Its small footprint makes it a great city car; at only 66.7 inches wide it is actually narrower than some off-road side-by-side toys. A gawping face is alarming but at least Toyota has the good sense to offer this car in a variety of zero dollar paint colours, including the Pulse Red shown here. Its price tag of $17,290 isn’t the lowest in its class but neither is this thing equipped like a penalty box.
Look for standard equipment like air conditioning, power windows, a tilt & telescopic steering wheel peppered with audio controls, and height adjustable seats. Infotainment is handled by a 7-inch touchscreen that plays well with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, featuring USB inputs and half-dozen speakers. Push button start, keyless entry, and heated side mirrors are prizes from the Base Camp’s best friend, economies of scale. Not long ago, features like these were only a dream in base model economy cars.
Speaking of economy, drivers of this 2020 Yaris Hatchback should expect its 1.5L four-cylinder engine, making just over 100 horsepower, to return a highway fuel economy near 6.0L/100km. That is nearly hybrid car territory and will permit owners to bypass gas stations with regularity. One complaint? Toyota chooses to equip this car with rear drum brakes that do not generally have the stopping power of discs. However, the diminutive weight of Yaris Hatch – not much more than 1,000kg – helps negate this oversight.
What We’d Choose
If the interior and exterior styling of this Yaris Hatch reminds you a Mazda, give yourself a gold star. It is based on the little Mazda 2, a car not sold in this country but is available in other markets. This effectively doubles one’s options for servicing the thing, since both Toyota and Mazda dealers should be intimately familiar with its internal gubbins.
As for the car itself, we’d definitely stick with the base model instead of making the $2660 walk to an XLE trim. That decision would bring heated front seats and a few other minor features but the infotainment system and most comfort items are exactly the same. Same goes for the 106hp engine but, critically, only an automatic transmission is offered on the XLE.
Save the manuals, indeed.