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Champion Hatchbacks – Toyota Yaris/Toyota Pruis

In the categories of dependability, value and jaw-dropping fuel economy, these are your winners.

The Yaris delivers on fuel economy and reliability.

(Photo: © Toyota Motor Sales, U.S.A., Inc.)

The Toyota Yaris isn’t exactly a hot rod, but the 106-horsepower engine is more than adequate for driving around town. Highway driving isn’t challenging, but you do need to be aware of the engine’s limitations.

The ride is a bit choppy over bumps but never unsettled. Handling, on the other hand, is good, as is overall maneuverability. Driving around tight city streets is where the Yaris performs best. The quick steering and tight turning radius make it fun and easy to drive.

Where the Yaris separates itself from its competitors is safety. My version had automatic high-beam headlights, lane-departure warning, front collision warning, automatic emergency braking and nine air bags. The projector-style headlights did a great job illuminating some dark country roads.

The cloth front seats are comfortable and have plenty of head and legroom. The 60/40 spilt rear seat is a bit tight for adults.

The Toyota Yaris isn’t the best subcompact on the market, but it offers a good value at a starting price of $15,365. If your priority is fuel economy, dependability and maneuverability over sportiness, the Yaris is a good choice. John Paul

Base Price: $15,365

MPG: 30 city, 35 highway

Crash Test: N/A

The latest Prius has a smooth and quiet ride.

(Photo:© Toyota Motor Sales, U.S.A., Inc.)

The fourth generation of the Toyota Prius hatchback, arguably the world’s best-known hybrid, was introduced in 2016. Three years later, its exterior styling is still considered bold and polarizing.

LED headlights and taillights, dual-zone automatic climate control, and Toyota’s suite of advanced safety features are standard equipment.

The latest Prius is much more engaging to drive than previous versions. The steering feels precise, there’s minimal body lean in turns, and overall handling is improved – almost sporty – thanks in part to a new, independent rear suspension. All in all, the car feels solid and delivers a smooth, firm, relatively quiet ride.

The Prius’ raison d’etre is, of course, its outstanding fuel economy: 52 mpg in combined city/highway driving for most versions. And with an MSRP from around $24,000 for a basic Prius One, it’s an excellent value. What’s not to like? Just a couple of things: leisurely acceleration (you can always switch to Sport mode) and the lack of a temporary spare tire on some trim levels. John Lehrer

Base Price: $24,500

MPG: 54 city, 50 highway

Crash Test: 4 stars

Looking for a new ride? Check out more car reviews online. AAA.com/TestDrive

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