My wife stepped out of the 2022 Toyota Yaris ZR Hybrid and handed me a morning coffee; the job of whoever draws the school run straw. “It’s a bit on the small side but got the job done,” she said, smiling. “Are you talking about the car?” I responded.
She walked off and left me mildly insulted, and still guessing. I’d been eagerly awaiting her opinion of the Yaris, because I’d watched her cruise stealthily up the street in EV mode. It’s a car that turns heads to be honest, and looks fantastic in Silver Pearl.
This particularly stylish ZR is the top spec variant of the current generation Yaris hatch and comes powered by a 1.5-litre inline-three-cylinder VVT-iW petrol engine (88kW and 145Nm) or a VVT-iE hybrid engine (85kW and 120Nm combined). We’re testing the latter.
Both options come with a CVT, and in addition to kit in place in the Ascent Sport, SX and SX Hybrid, the ZR packs in 16-inch alloy wheels, LED DRLs and headlights, tint, a rear spoiler, head-up display, blind spot monitor, rear cross traffic alert, and sports front seats.
You’ll also find ABS with stability control and brake assist, smart entry and start, sat nav, climate control, auto retractable mirrors, power windows, a 7.0-inch colour touchscreen, single USB input, Bluetooth connectivity, Apple CarPlay, and Android Auto.
There’s a six-speaker audio system, active cruise control, a 4.2-inch central information display in the instrument cluster, two cup, and four in-door bottle holders. A complete Toyota Safety Sense suite is also included on the 5-star ANCAP safety rated Yaris range.
That hands you lane trace assist, lane departure alert, a pre-collision safety system with pedestrian (day/night) and cyclist (day) detection, intersection turn assist, road sign assist (speed), active cruise control, and a reversing camera.
There’s also hill start assist, active cornering assist, a bunch of airbags, ISOFIX child seat anchor points and an engine immobiliser. All up, plenty to keep your wheels inline and on your side of the road.
We spent a week with the Yaris ZR Hybrid. It replaced our usual ‘soccer and school run’ hatch and was this writer’s car for the usual business meetings and running around. With our regular ride being a Kia Carnival that gets heavy use, the hybrid was super appealing.
Inside the little Toyota, you’ll find cloth seats that have a sporty pattern and pronounced texture, with the front being semi-buckets, which offer good support for up to two hours at a time, but there are no armrests.
With only manual adjustment, swapping drivers is a pain. The centre cup holders are too rearwards as well, and difficult to use. At the rear, there are three seats, with a 60/40 split for plenty of storage options.
We ran a booster behind the front passenger, with our eight-year-old in the middle and 12-year-old behind the driver. Our teenager sat up front and everyone was comfy on the 40-minute school run, with the four school bags easily fitting in the 270-litre boot.
Adult rear passengers would want to be small though. That aside, there were no rattles in the compact hatch, although the plastic is scratchy, with only a few soft touch areas on the dash. The biggest annoyance though are the hard surfaced storage trays.
Found above the decent sized glove box, and in two locations in the centre divide, these allow anything placed in them to slide around. Inside the storage cubby, you’ll find a 12V outlet to accompany a single USB.
The steering wheel has a quality feel and shape. The buttons are well laid out but not super tactile in click feedback. The rest of the switchgear is nothing special, but gets the job done, as does the handbrake, which is a bit loose laterally.
The rest of the controls are glossy and well finished, and the air conditioning functions well, taking just six minutes to heat the cabin to 22.5-degrees Celsius on a freezing morning. The interior lights are strong, while each sun visor has a mirror with auto light.
The Yaris is a quiet car, but there are the usual hybrid vibes through the floor and wheel as the engine kicks on and off at very low speeds in traffic. Rolling road noise is always minimal, even on concrete motorway. Heavy rain can get loud on the roof though.
The windscreen wipers, although effective, are noisy and become distracting too, and there is only one intermittent speed. Night illumination of the cabin features is top notch, mostly in cool blue.
A reverse camera with fixed grid, along with the parking sensors and light steering, as well as a tight turning circle, made parking simple. On the road, the hybrid combo is peppy, with decent grunt off the lights and a broad torque range.
The CVT does a sensational job in making the most of every Nm and kW available. There is always acceleration on tap, and although it’s not going to set any speed records, it is enough, with particularly good acceleration between 50km/h and 80km/h.
Full EV kicks in for very short time frames (like just a few hundred metres), and pure EV mode can be selected if there is enough battery charge, which is ideal for stealthy crawls through car parks, or when you’re sneaking home late at night.
It’s as a hybrid, when the petrol engine and batteries work together, that the Yaris comes into its own though. There’s a bunch of screens in the infotainment system to monitor it, and you even get a report card; “You’ve been a lead foot again Mr Ware!”
Lane trace assist and departure assist work well in most situations, pulling the car away from the road edges. The pre-collision safety system is great too, and we had the chance to test it first hand when a pedestrian ran out in front of us. It possibly saved a life.
Overall, the 2022 Toyota Yaris ZR Hybrid is a really good package, with a MacPherson strut front and torsion beam rear suspension offering a good compromise of support and handling on the twisty smooth roads, as well as our less than perfect urban streets.
Body roll is not bad either, while support under hard braking surprised, given the comfort level of this commuter car. High-speed damping rates would keep sudden pot hole hits at bay, although the biggest could always be felt.
What’s really impressive though is the fuel economy, with the little Yaris ticking over just 3.9-litres/100km. At current mental fuel prices, you could see savings of close to $1,700 a year if you maximise hybrid and battery usage.
First you’ll have to commit to that whopping ‘from’ $33,871 drive away price, but if you’re in it for the long haul, and we’re talking multiple year ownership, the full benefits of hybrid savings will be paid back.
With plenty of colours to choose from too, it simply comes down to whether you opt for the black roof (as seen on our tester) or not. The 2022 Toyota Yaris ZR Hybrid hatch has a 5-year unlimited kilometre warranty.
Our test vehicle was provided by Toyota Australia. To find out more about the 2022 Toyota Yaris ZR Hybrid, contact your local Toyota dealer. Images: HMC Photography.