The Yaris essentially is Toyota’s nod to its glory days of the 1970s, when it tore into the U.S. automotive market with cheap, fuel-efficient, reliable small cars and pickup trucks. It really wasn’t competitive with the best of the minicars, especially the acclaimed Honda Fit. But it remained inexpensive, reliable and highly accessible via Toyota’s huge dealer network. Despite those assets advantage, it broke the 100,000 U.S. sales barrier only once (in 2008), while the compact Corolla and midsize Camry never fell below 200,000.
Historically bland, the Yaris benefited from the closure of Toyota’s Scion brand in 2016. The Scion iA became the Yaris iA, a far more entertaining ride than the Yaris. It’s derived from the Mazda2, a model that briefly appeared in the United States under the Mazda banner but was discontinued in 2014 after a five-year run.