Sales of the 2012 Toyota Yaris were up 140 percent in April and 70 percent for the year. It appears the completely redesigned Yaris is already a hit with buyers. The 2012 model is larger than the previous model with a wheelbase that is longer by 2 inches and overall length has grown by 2.9 inches. The all-new 2012 Yaris is more appealing with its sportier looks and lower roofline which helps make it more aerodynamic.
More standard features and cargo space inside
This 2012 Toyota Yaris tester is the 5-door Liftback LE with an MSRP of $16,100 and comes with more standard features.The Yaris LE 5-door comes standard with an automatic transmission, power windows, power mirrors, remote keyless entry, steering wheel audio controls, and audio system with HD radio, six speakers and Bluetooth music streaming technology. Cruise control is optional.
Inside, there’s decent room for a subcompact and the cabin offers a high level of detail with upgraded materials and a new sportier design. Toyota has moved the speedometer in front of the driver from the center of the dash where it belongs. In the rear there is 33.3 inches of legroom and LE models have a 60/40 split folding rear seat. Cargo volume has increased by 68 percent in the 5-door and cargo space behind the seat has been lengthened by 5.7 inches and widened by 2.1 inches; capacity with the seat up is 15.6 cubic feet on the 5-door.
Toyota drops the ball with the radio
With all the very good changes made to the 2012 Yaris, we have to wonder what Toyota was thinking with the radio/sound system. The buttons are small and the icons are hard to see. The interface is confusing with a dial and four arrows that was never figured out during our week with the car. The big knob seemed to have a mind of its own and did something different each time. There is a music mode or talk mode and that’s all it does, and when you turn it nothing happens. We found it frustrating.
Changes to the suspension improve ride and cornering
The Yaris uses the very capable 1.5-liter, 16-valve, four-cylinder DOHC engine with variable valve timing with intelligence (VVT-i). The1.5-liter produces 106 horsepower and 103 pound-feet of torque and comes mated to the new four-speed automatic, which is lighter and more efficient. With the automatic, the Yaris gets an EPA-estimated 30/35 mpg.
Suspension changes in the 2012 Yaris include re-tuned front MacPherson struts and rear torsion beam, for a better ride and tighter corning. The front stabilizer bar has been increased to 24.2 mm (0.95 in.), and tire sizes increase to 15 inches on the LE model.
The 2012 Yaris feels much more solid and secure than the previous model. The suspension changes translate to a more stable and comfortable ride at high speeds. The Yaris is wonderfully smooth on the freeway at 75 miles per hour and the electric power steering results in good road feel without losing easy low-speed turning.
The 1.5-liter is powerful and efficient
For such a small engine, the 1.5-liter engine has plenty of power and won’t leave you wanting for more up to 80 mph. On paper the 106 horsepower doesn’t seem impressive, but the 103 pound-feet of torque is available over a broad range peaking at 4200 rpm. The 35 mpg Yaris is peppy and fun to drive.
Eighty miles per hour equals 3400 rpm, and at that speed wind noise is kept to minimum by the excellent job Toyota has done with the cars aerodynamics and sound insulation. The coefficient of drag is a superb 0.29.
Consumers are voting for the 2012 Toyota Yaris by buying the newly redesigned sub-compact in large numbers. The Yaris offers lively and secure cornering, a smooth ride, a terrific new interior, and a lively high-tech engine that delivers good fuel-mileage. Except for the radio, Toyota has hit a home run with the redesign.