When I went shopping for a new car I basically wanted something I could finance for less than $200/month. I checked out comparable cars from Honda, Hyundai, and Nissan and the price of the Yaris and the Toyota name won out. This is definitely a no-frills car. It has AC and an auxiliary jack for an mp3 player (which I now can't live without) and that's it. Manual locks and windows and nothing fancy, but that's fine by me, I don't need a nav system (I can read a map) or KITT from Knight Rider telling me what to do. This is basically a more sophisticated version of the VW Bug without the joy of adjusting valves or broken heaters.
That said it is surprisingly peppy for a car that puts out a massive 103hp. Like other Toyotas I've driven it is quick off the line, but lacks mid-range power. Climbing long distances requires many downshifts. I've gotten her up close to 100mph and my life did not flash before my eyes, nor did the car develop any cheap-car-racer shake. Handling is fine. It is no BMW, but is fun to take through a twisting downhill mountain drive. It is nimble enough for someone who drives like me to dodge comatose drivers on the freeway.
Mileage is excellent. Drive conservatively and you can easily average over 40 mpg (some claim to get over 50, but I don't have the discipline to drive that slowly over long distances). Average 70 or 80 on a long road trip (say, San Diego to Death Valley) and you drop to around the 27 - 30 mpg range. Still very, very good. I can easily get close to or over 400 miles on one tank of gas.
Sore points: the throttle and the brakes. The throttle is weird and inconsistent, sometimes a little bit of gas will make the car jump, other times it takes off normally. I've had the car for a year and still haven't totally gotten the hang of it. The brakes are surprisingly weak for such a small car. Sometimes it feels like I'm driving my old '68 VW Bug with four drums. Every Toyota I've driven has had excellent, powerful brakes (I even put some Tacoma brakes on a 300ZX I owned years ago). I guess this was a cost-cutting decision. I don't feel that the brakes or unsafe, but I will upgrade them to something more substantial (like four-wheel discs) in the future.
Overall I like this car. You need a sense of humor to drive one when you're use to sporty cars and trucks, and I do sometimes get weird looks from people (though these cars are becoming more popular now), but I dig tiny old Euro cars, so I'm at home here. If you want something new and relatively cheap this is one to check out, ignore the online reviews that bemoan the lack of features, these people can't live without every bell and whistle in the world on their $13,000 commuter.