The Toyota Yaris has been around since 1999, and if you want a seriously cheap yet reliable run-around then don’t discount those early cars; they uphold the model’s reputation for bulletproof reliability as much as the later examples.

you’ll get around,
45-50 mpg.

We’re dealing here with the third-generation model that, currently, makes an absolutely stellar used buy. Whether you just need something small and efficient to hack about town in, or you’re thinking of a first car for your teenager, the Yaris is easy to drive, cheap to run and one of the safest cars in its class, too.

This generation was launched in 2011 with a 1.0-litre or 1.33-litre petrols, and a 1.4-litre diesel. A 1.5-litre hybrid arrived a few years later, and was only offered with a CVT automatic, but don’t expect this to do phenomenal economy – our experience of it in varied real-world conditions suggests you’ll get around 45 – 50mpg, or that could drop further on the motorway.

Still, if it’s mostly around-town stuff you’re doing then the hybrid will be more efficient than either of the petrols and far more refined than the diesel. Although it is correspondingly more expensive to buy on the used market. Because of this, we’d still go for the simple manual, petrol models if it’s low mileage hops that you need it for. 

High mileage drivers that aren’t bound for London regularly, where emissions restrictions could soon price older diesels out of the capital altogether, would do well to look to the 1.4 D-4D since it’s super-frugal and will see you up to 60mpg and beyond if you drive carefully.

Reliability is famously brilliant on the Toyota Yaris. Very little goes wrong, but notably the CVT gearbox is a little less reliable than the manual. Oddly you can get corrosion around the rear number plate trim. Otherwise, really there’s very little to look out for other than the usual things to check for, signs of crash damage and solid service history. Look for a stamp in the service book every 10,000 miles or 12 months. The engines are chain-driven, so you don’t need to worry about cambelt changes.  

TR or Icon trims are good value and have most of the equipment you’d want including alloys, Bluetooth, air-con, a rear-view camera and a touchscreen (albeit without nav). The SR and Sport are all about looking a bit sportier, while top-spec Excel or Spirit models are the ones to go for if you want comfort. They get a glass roof, climate control and auto lights and wipers. Look for cars with the Toyota ‘Touch and Go’ system if you want a factory sat-nav.

Prices for a used example of the third generation Yaris start from as little as £4000 for the 1.0-litre petrol, and you won’t pay much more for the bigger petrol or diesel cars – even one with quite low mileage. Hybrids start from around £7000, but were only offered in higher spec trims so tend to be better equipped.

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