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Vehicle Profile: The 2012 Toyota Yaris

Last updated 6 years ago

An optimal balance of fuel efficiency, style and value with a big dose of fun.

Subcompact vehicles are increasingly popular for their versatile combination of outstanding fuel efficiency, style, interior flexibility and the modern amenities of more expensive vehicles without the high price tag. Liftbacks are particularly popular, representing 70 percent of all subcompact sales. Getting a liftback with everything you want for less money might seem like a tall order, but that’s exactly what the all-new 2012 Toyota Yaris delivers.


The completely redesigned Yaris has a two-inch longer wheelbase, now 98.8 inches and, at 153.5 inches overall, is nearly three inches longer for 2012. The result is up to 68 percent more cargo space, plus more headroom and passenger volume. The longer wheelbase also improves the on-road stability of the Yaris, making it drive with the confidence of a bigger vehicle.


Not only do the new dimensions make the Yaris look more sporty and aggressive, but there’s also function to the design; a highly aerodynamic 0.30 coefficient of drag helps return optimal fuel economy.


The 2012 Toyota Yaris ($13,155 MSRP) is available in three trim levels: L, LE and SE. Both the L and LE are available in either three- or five-door liftback body styles with the sport-tuned SE available exclusively as a five-door.


A 1.5-liter four-cylinder engine equipped with variable valve timing with intelligence (VVT-i) is standard across the line. It puts out 106 hp and 103 lb/ft of torque while returning up to 38 mpg highway, and comes paired with a lighter-weight, electronically controlled four-speed automatic that’s been redesigned for reduced friction and greater fuel economy. A smooth-shifting five-speed manual is available in L and SE models.


All models include standard electric power steering, power-assisted ventilated front disc brakes, power door locks, air conditioning, intermittent wipers, a cargo-area storage cover and an AM/FM/CD/MP3 stereo with USB and auxiliary ports. LE and SE models feature a stereo with six speakers, Bluetooth® music streaming and HD Radio™.


Standard equipment on the LE includes power windows with driver auto-down, remote keyless entry, power mirrors and steering wheel audio controls.


Every component on the Yaris is designed to reduce weight without reducing strength or functionality. For instance, for the first time, Toyota has engineered a single windshield wiper that not only cuts weight, but also works better than the two-wiper system because of its integrated washer fluid sprayer in the wiper arm that sprays directly in the path of the wiper.


Inside, perhaps the most noticeable change is that the previously center-mounted instrument cluster has been relocated to the driver’s side. It now features a new multi-instrument display including twin trip meters, a clock, outside temperature, fuel economy, average speed and Eco-Driving indicator. New fabrics, better bolstered seats and higher-grade dashboard materials increase the quality feel of the cabin.


Not only does the Yaris look more expensive than it is, it sounds more expensive than it is, too. Its hushed interior is on par with bigger, more expensive vehicles. Extra sound absorbing and insulation materials in the Yaris make for a quieter ride, outperforming competitors that still buzz, hum and rattle at speed.


“Subcompact” is a relative term for the 2012 Yaris, especially when considering storage space. The Yaris can pack away a lot of gear. The luggage compartment boasts 5.7 extra inches in length and 2.1 inches in width, for a total of 15.3 cubic feet of cargo space with the rear seats up in the three-door, and 15.6 cubic feet in the five-door. For comparison, the luggage capacity of the full-size Avalon sedan is 14.4 cubic feet. 


For those seeking sportier tuning out of their Yaris, the SE delivers extra driving fun with a sport-tuned suspension, enhanced steering and enhanced interior touches like a leather-trimmed steering wheel and six-way adjustable sport seats. The SE comes with four-wheel disc brakes, 16-inch alloy wheels, integrated foglamps, chrome-tipped exhaust and color-keyed underbody spoilers, rear diffuser and grille with mesh insert.


Toyota has always put an unrelenting focus on safety, and the 2012 Yaris is no different. New in the Yaris this year is the Toyota Advanced Whiplash Injury-Lessening front seat structure, which is designed to provide equal support from the top of the head to the lower back to help reduce whiplash-type injuries. Nine standard airbags include roll-sensing side bags for front and rear seats, front seat-mounted side-impact bags and a driver’s knee bag. Toyota’s exclusive Star Safety System™, which includes Traction Control, Vehicle Stability Control, Antilock Braking System with Electronic Brake Force Distribution and Brake Assist, is also standard. The Yaris even includes Smart Stop Technology – a brake-override system that cuts power to the throttle when both the brake and gas are simultaneously pressed in certain situations. It all adds up to an exceptional amount of safety technology, especially considering how reasonably the Yaris is priced.


When you add it all up, the 2012 Toyota Yaris is the best overall value of any subcompact liftback on the market today. Its combination of safety, versatility, fuel economy and style is hard to beat.


On top of all this, the 2012 Yaris is fun to drive. How fun? Schedule a test drive with Jerry’s Toyota in Baltimore, MD, today and you can find out for yourself.


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