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2012 Toyota Yaris Review By John Heilig +VIDEO

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2012 Toyota Yaris

COMPARE: Toyota Yaris Vs Nissan Versa Vs Mazda2 Vs Ford Fiesta
SEE ALSO: 2012 Toyota Yaris Specs, Prices, Reviews and Comparisons

By John Heilig
Senior Editor
The Auto Channel

Specifications: 2012 Toyota Yaris

Model: 2012 Toyota Yaris SE Liftback
Engine: 1.5-liter DOHC I4
Horsepower/Torque: 106 hp @ 6,000 rpm/103 lb.-ft. @ 4,200 rpm
Transmission: 4-speed automatic
Wheelbase: 98.8 in.
Length x Width x Height: 154.7 x 66.7 x 59.4 in.
Tires: P195/50R16 (compact spare)
Cargo: 15.6 cu. ft.
Economy: 30 mpg city/35 mpg highway/28.9 mpg test
Fuel capacity: 11.1 gal.
Curb Weight: 2,315 lbs.
Sticker: $18,189 (includes $760 delivery, processing and handling charge, $229 in options (floor mats, cargo net)

Top 5 Reasons to buy this car
1. Lots of features for small, inexpensive car
2. Decent handling around town
3. Comfortable
4. Good value for the money
5. Small, but safe

The Bottom Line: The Toyota Yaris can be looked at as just another Toyota small car, and there are a lot of them. However, the Yaris has some unique features, otherwise it wouldn’t be in the Toyota stable. It’s a practical people and cargo carrier, without resorting to more size than is necessary. All that and pretty decent economy, too.

Watch TACH's exclusive Yaris promo video

The Toyota Yaris hasn’t changed much over the years. It’s still a nice subcompact hatchback (OK, Liftback) on a small platform with good economy. And then I parked next top an older Yaris.

It’s impressive how the car has improved with age. The older Yaris looked positively stodgy, while the newer car seemed sleeker. It may only have been a change in the taillight design, but it was an effective change.

Another neat feature is the use of a single front wiper blade. It works well with the single rear wiper as well. There aren’t many cars that can get away with one blade, but we had a spot of rain during our test week and felt that the single blade worked well.

The 1.5-liter inline four in the Yaris worked well, even if it was a bit buzzy under stress. Thanks to the tininess of the car, noticed primarily in the sound you get when you close the door, a tinny engine was not unexpected. However, the engine did its job. You’ll never get the feel it’s overpowered, just adequately powered.

A 4-speed automatic transmission gets the power to the front wheels, where a MacPherson strut front suspension and a torsion beam rear suspension keep the wheels in contact with the road. These fairly common elements deliver decent ride quality.

Even though it’s small, the Yaris has comfortable front seats. They offered good side support and legroom. The rear seats accommodated child seats well. It was easy to connect the shoulder belts to the receiver, and this isn’t the situation in many larger cars.

A styling trick to make the interior at least appear larger is the elimination of the center console/arm rest. However, the center console itself extends rearward, intruding on the rear

center passenger’s legroom, even if there isn’t a center hump to do it. Any center passenger back there must be thin, or small.

The trunk has a decent capacity in its normal configuration. This increases when you fold down the rear seat backs. The backs lower easily and create an essentially flat floor.

The Yaris may be small, but it carries nine air bags – driver and front passenger dash-mounted, drive r and front passenger seat-mounted side airbags, front and rear side curtain bags, driver and front passenger seat cushion bags, and a driver’s knee airbag. Having an accident in a Yaris must make everyone feel as if their inside a balloon.

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, I’m no big fan of orange-lit instrument panels. However, the Yaris’s was clear and informative. There is a clear audio readout with iPod and FM information, It’s small, but it does the job.

You have to hand it to Toyota. They have a huge stable of small/compact/subcompact/what-have-you cars, yet all have their own distinctive appeal. The Yaris’s main appeal is its low price, but it brings functionality with that low price.

© 2012 The Auto Page