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2020 Toyota Yaris hatchback revealed in Japan

This subcompact five-door will offer big-car features like an available hybrid powertrain, swiveling seats and even electrically operated all-wheel drive.

2020 Toyota Yaris
The 2020 Toyota Yaris looks good in blue.

Toyota just revealed its 2020 Yaris hatchback in Japan today. This subcompact car is completely new from the architecture on up and will bring a surprising amount of innovation to a vehicle class best known for parsimoniousness and privation.

Regrettably, this overhauled car will not be offered in all markets around the world. "For North America, we will continue to get the Yaris that is… [built] at the Mazda plant in Mexico," said Nancy Hubbell, senior manager of product communications at Toyota Motor North America. "This will be released in Europe in the second half of 2020 and in Australia in the first half of 2020." Of course, it will be sold in Japan as well.

Defying convention, this latest, global Yaris brings big-car features and innovation to a segment chiefly known for bargain-basement prices and bare-bones equipment. From advanced driver-assistance technology to swiveling seats, electrically operated all-wheel drive and miserly hybrid powertrains, there's a lot going on with this small five-door.

2020 Toyota Yaris

It's hard to tell based on just a photo, but the latest Yaris' cabin looks quite upscale.


Foundationally, the new Yaris is based on TNGA, the Toyota New Global Architecture. Various forms of this vehicle platform underpin a vast array of vehicles, from the Camry and Avalon sedans, to the Corolla compact car, Prius hybrid and RAV4 crossover.

The switch to TNGA has resulted in a supposed weight loss of, depending on how you count, up to 50 kilograms, which is around 110 pounds. Structural rigidity has increased a claimed 30 percent while the center of gravity has dropped 15 millimeters.

In step with its reworked underpinnings, the bits beneath this new Yaris' hood have also been overhauled. It sounds like at least four powertrains will be on the menu, including a 1.5-liter three-cylinder matched to a Direct Shift continuously variable transmission (CVT) with a dedicated launch gear for better off-the-line performance. That same engine will also be offered with a hybrid system or a six-speed manual gearbox. An improved, 1.0-liter inline-three is also available. It boasts of reduced internal friction, higher EGR rates, increased mixture tumble for cleaner operation and other enhancements. It's paired with a lightweight CVT.

Toyota claims the Yaris' partially electrified powertrain will offer the world's highest fuel efficiency for a hybrid vehicle and provide improved performance. Interestingly, E-Four, an electrically operated all-wheel drive system, will be available on this vehicle.

Standard, front-drive variants feature a torsion-beam rear suspension. Models fitted with four-corner traction gain a fancy double-wishbone arrangement.

Hybrid models should also offer a 1,500-watt accessory outlet. This will allow the car to power, for instance, electrical appliances during blackouts.

2020 Toyota Yaris

The 2020 Yaris is based on the Toyota New Global Architecture, a rock-solid foundation.


On the tech front, this 2020 Yaris will come standard with an automatic parking feature that operates the vehicle's brakes, accelerator and steering wheel for maximum convenience. The latest generation of Toyota Safety Sense, the automaker's suite of advanced driver-assistance technology, is also offered at no extra charge. This includes items like pedestrian and cyclist detection, adaptive cruise control, lane centering, automatic high beams and road-sign recognition. A head-up display (HUD) is also standard.

Turn Tilt Seats, another interesting feature, will be available here. Basically, they allow the front buckets to swivel to the side and angle downward slightly, making ingress and egress easier for elderly or disabled folks. It's a clever feature, though Toyota is far from the first automaker to come up with something like this. Chrysler, for instance, offered a similar feature way back in the 1950s.

The 2020 Toyota Yaris will be on display during this month's Tokyo Motor Show, though apparently it won't be at the capital city's Big Sight convention center where the this event takes place every other year. Instead, it will be exhibited at a venue called VenusFort, a Venetian-style shopping mall located in the Odaiba district.

Look for this latest Yaris to be displayed in Japanese showrooms from around late October onward through December. It's scheduled to go on sale in Japan next February.