There are cheap new cars, and then there are really cheap new cars. Practically speaking, you could call any vehicle that comes in under the average new car price a “cheap car” — but considering that average now sits around $39,000, that still means there are plenty of ostensibly affordable rides that cost way more than many people want to spend. That’s where the really cheap cars come into play. We’re talking brand-new, never-titled cars with all the features you really need that you can take home for less than $20,000 — rides with new-car smell and reliability for a used car price.
If the “Yaris” name brings to mind ugly, bulbous hatchbacks and fish-faced tin cans on wheels, well, you need to stay up on your compact car knowledge. Since 2015 (when including a brief stint as on one of the final Scions), America’s Yaris sedan has been a facelifted Mazda 2 — a model not sold at U.S. Mazda dealerships since the earlier generation died off in 2014.
Like its larger sibling, the Mazda 3, the Yaris sedan was a surprisingly fun car to drive, with a playful chassis and well-balanced handling. Granted, with 106 horsepower and 103 pound-feet under the hood, acceleration was hardly breathtaking — but opting for the smooth six-speed manual gearbox enabled drivers to make the most of that power. Like the Miata, it made taking curves at the speed limit fun — something few cars today can say.
Of course, cheap cars that enthusiasts love all too often don’t find much of an audience here in America, and it seems the fate that the Fiat 124 Spider has been cursed with is now about to befall the Yaris. According to CarBuzz, which received a leaked internal Toyota memo announcing the move and then received direct confirmation from Toyota, the Yaris sedan and hatchback will not be coming back for the 2021 model year. The loss of the hatchback is less saddening; after all, it just arrived in 2019, and never offered the stick shift that made the Yaris fun. But the loss of the three-box means new car buyers seeking something super-cheap, fun to drive and equipped with a manual are restricted to the Honda Fit Sport hatchback.
Luckily, there’s still some good news: a lightly used Toyota Yaris sedan is an even better deal than a new one, and you can still snap one of them up for a song.
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