Toyota Battle: Yaris vs. Prius

toyota_prius_photo_2009.jpgHead to Head Comparison: Toyota Yaris vs. Toyota Prius

If you’ve made up your mind that you are going to buy a Toyota, and fuel efficiency is one of the most important factors in your buying decision, then the Prius and Yaris are likely on your short list. While these vehicles share a few commonalities, they are really quite different when you take a closer look.

The 2009 Toyota Yaris is available in a 3-door liftback, 4-door sedan, and new for this year, a 5-door hatchback. While the Yaris’ main competitors are the Honda Fit, Nissan Versa, and Hyundai Accent, Chevy Aveo, and Scion XD - it is one of the cars we tend to give some attention after test driving a Prius.

The 2009 Toyota Prius maintains the same body style that was first introduced in 2004, and for good reason. Hands down, this version of the Prius has been the most popular hybrid car ever built and sold. Later this year you’ll also be able to get your hands on the redesigned 2010 Prius, which would be a much bigger deal if fuel costs were higher. Prius competes more closely with the Honda Civic hybrid and now it will also have to fight off the less expensive Honda Insight, introduced just last week.

toyota_yaris_photo_2009.jpgRound One: Fuel Economy / MPG
The Yaris comes with a 1.5 liter, 4 cylinder engine that is rated at 29 mpg for city driving and 36 miles per gallon on the highway. Based on the research I found, many current Yaris owners claim that it actually gets much better mileage; closer to 40 or even 45 miles per gallon. Even so, the Prius manages to do even better by boasting EPA estimates of 48 mpg in the city and 45 on the highway. Based strictly on fuel economy, the Prius offers a slight advantage over the Yaris.

Round Two: Price
The 2009 Toyota Prius comes with a MSRP of $22,000, although real-world prices have varied significantly over the past several months. When gas prices were $5/gallon, more than double what they are now, the Prius was one of the most sought after vehicles. Many people reported paying several thousand over invoice in 2008. You can pick up a base model Yaris for about $10,000 less than a Prius, starting at about $12,000 for the 3-door. On the high end, a well loaded 5-door Yaris would have trouble topping $17,000. In either case, the Yaris wins the price battle over the Prius.

Round Three: Value
As we mentioned at the onset, these two vehicles really don’t belong in the same class. While it is a fact that the Yaris is a subcompact and the Prius is considered a midsized sedan, the Prius “out classes” the smaller Yaris in pretty much every category other than cost. Quite simply, the Yaris is Toyota’s entry level vehicle while the Prius is one of the most impressive hybrid vehicles on the road today. Even so, if you are shopping for a Toyota that gets great gas mileage without breaking the bank, both of these vehicles offer a great deal of bang for your buck. And while value might be viewed as a subjective decision - based on performance, comfort, reliability, safety, and resale, we have to give the overall ”value vote” to the Prius.

In a couple of years you’ll be able to make a more apples-to-apples comparison of these two vehicles, as the 2011 Yaris hybrid was recently confirmed for development.

There Is 1 Response So Far. »

  1. It so happens I have one of each. Both are good cars but they are so different that comparing them in this way is just plain daft. Like saying a chainsaw is “better” than a lawnmower..

    For example it is misleading to say the Yaris “wins” on price when you get twice as much car for your money with the Prius… and it is silly to give a “value vote” to the Prius when you might not need such a large car in the first place. Then the Yaris would be better value.

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