Going on sale in the US market in 2006 as a 2007 model, the diminutive Toyota Yaris replaced the long-in-the-tooth Echo subcompact. Toyota originally offered the Yaris in both sedan and hatchback body-styles but the Yaris returns in 2012 strictly as a hatchback.
The 2012 Toyota Yaris hatchback (also called a "liftback") is offered in both three- and five-door configurations. The automaker has thoroughly refreshed the Yaris for the new model year, increasing its size and changing its appearance to make it more sporty and aggressive. The latter is emphasized with the addition of the sporty Toyota Yaris SE trim. The 2012 Toyota Yaris, though, continues to be powered by a 1.5-liter inline-4 engine mated to either a four-speed automatic or five-speed manual transmission. (The latter is only available on the L and SE models).
Body style: Hatch
Engine: 1.5-liter inline-4
Transmissions: four-speed automatic, five-speed manual
Models: L, LE, SE
The Toyota Yaris has been extensively updated for the 2012 model year. Toyota now only offers the hatchback model which is available in three- and five-door configurations. The 2012 Yaris is larger than its predecessor, having grown nearly three inches lengthwise and adding two inches to its wheelbase (the distance between the front and rear tires). According to Toyota, this change significantly increases the Yaris' interior space.
The carmaker has slightly lowered the Toyota Yaris to support its new, more aggressive-looking exterior. Toyota has added the Toyota Yaris SE trim for those looking for a more aggressive drive. The 2012 Yaris SE comes equipped with a stiffer suspension, larger brakes, and more reactive steering and separates itself visually from the base Toyota Yaris L and LE trims with spoilers, chrome exhaust tip, and distinctive SE badging.
Other changes include new and larger wheels, more airbags, and more standard features.
Toyota has freshened the 2012 Yaris hatchback with a more appealing appearance that would not look out of place among Toyota's youth-oriented Scion brand. The Yaris is slightly larger than its predecessor and lower to the ground. The sporty 2012 Toyota Yaris SE is the most distinctive model with its spoilers, chrome exhaust tip, and SE badges. The Toyota Yaris is available in eight colors: Absolutely Red, Black Sand Pearl, Blazing Blue Pearl, Classic Silver Metallic, Lagoon Blue Mica, Magnetic Gray Metallic, Super White, and Wave Line Pearl.
Toyota says there's more headroom, passenger space, and cargo area in the interior of the 2012 Yaris, which grew in the model year. The driver's instrument cluster, which had been located in the center of the dash, is now in the traditional spot in front of the driver. Cargo room in the 2012 Toyota Yaris is slightly over 15 cubic feet which is up 64 percent in the three-door model and up 68 percent in the five-door model.
Performance & Handling
The 2011 Toyota Yaris' lone 1.5-liter inline-four engine carries over into the new model. Though slightly sluggish when accelerating compared to the competition, the Toyota Yaris still packs plenty of power in normal day-to-day driving. The 2012 Toyota Yaris is notably more reactive, especially in turns, and there's more road feel than its softer siblings.
The 2012 Toyota Yaris, like all current Toyotas, comes standard with the Toyota STAR safety system which includes anti-lock brakes (ABS), electronic brake force distribution (EBD), brake assist, Smart Stop (SST), traction control (TRAC), and vehicle stability control (VSC). Standard airbags total in nine and include driver and front-passenger dual-stage airbags; front-seat mounted side airbags; driver knee airbag; and front and rear seats side airbags. The 2012 Toyota Yaris is also equipped with the automaker's Advanced Whiplash Injury-Lessening (WIL) seats. According to Toyota, the system supports the backs of the driver and front passenger to minimize whiplash from certain types of collisions.
EPA Fuel Economy
Toyota Yaris L, LE, SE: 30 mpg city/38 mpg highway (5M), 30 mpg city/35 mpg highway (4A)
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A solid improvement, but it's up against some tough competitors
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