2012 Toyota Yaris Review

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Consumer Reviews
1 Review
2017
The Car Connection
2017
The Car Connection

The Car Connection Expert Review

Bengt Halvorson Bengt Halvorson Deputy Editor

The 2012 Toyota Yaris is fuel-efficient in the city without hybrid hardware, and it has an nicely appointed interior that feels cheerful but not cheapskate; but its weak performance and highway refinement aren't up to current class standards.

The 2012 Toyota Yaris has been redesigned this year, but this small car is perhaps more muddled in purpose (at least in the U.S. market) than before. With the Scion xD and iQ models, which share in many places the same showroom and the same sales lot, overlapping quite a bit in purpose with the all-new 2012 Yaris, and a new Prius C expected later this model year at a $19,000 price point, with a 53-mpg rating, what's the appeal of the Yaris?

On one side, it's styling. Toyota has placed more of an emphasis on its sportier Yaris SE package, which gets chunkier-looking air dams, distinct wheels, color-keyed details, and more of a rally-racer look in general. But across the lineup, the Yaris sheds the 'Euro-chic' look of the last generation and actually looks a bit more conventional and ordinary, we think. Inside, materials and details are a step up, with a straightforward new instrument-panel design and gauges back in front of the driver where they belong.  

At a time when many rival models either get a modern direct-injection engine (Hyundai Accent, Kia Rio) or available turbocharged versions (Chevrolet Sonic), Toyota sticks with a very tried-and-true layout for its new 2012 Yaris. The 106-horsepower, 1.5-liter DOHC in-line four carries over into the new car virtually unchanged from last year. While this engine is adequate with the five-speed manual, it's weak with the four-speed automatic, which is missing a gear or two next to the competition. The electric power steering is nicely weighted, though, and SE models get a stiffer but still comfortable suspension tune that doesn't sacrifice comfort. 

The Yaris is all-new as a hatchback this year, while a new sedan version is on the way next year. In the mean time, Sedans are relegated to fleet-only status. Seating has been improved throughout, with front seat cushions longer and now better for tall people. In back, too the bench isn't quite as hard as before. But packaging remains far from the best in the class, with rear seats that don't quite fold flat; cargo space has been improved a bit, though. Refinement is barely par in this class, with engine noise noticeably present from about 70 mph.

Safety is a bright spot for the 2012 Toyota Yaris. It now comes with nine standard airbags—including front seat-mounted side bags, a knee airbag for the driver, and roll-sensing side bags for front and rear occupants--and it's an IIHS Top Safety Pick.

Features are still very much in the economy-car vein. You won't find touch-screen navigation, heated seats, or leather upholstery in the Yaris, and the options list is quite limited. But sound systems have been refreshed, and they all come with delightfully simple (and effective) Bluetooth hands-free and audio streaming, USB and aux-in plugs are standard, and LE and SE models get HD Radio.
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April 19, 2015
For 2012 Toyota Yaris

Great city car!

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I really wanted a prius c but as that was too dear I bought a 5spd manual Yaris. In the year I've had it it hasn't let me down. I look forward to driving it and now that I'm used to manual I find it a pleasure... + More »
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April 14, 2016
2016 Toyota Yaris 5-Door Liftback Manual SE (GS)

Very good balance between quality and comfort.

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To be my first Toyota, this model (called ETIOS in my Country) is a very well done car.
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September 22, 2015
2015 Toyota Yaris 3-Door Liftback Manual L (Natl)

Our Yaris is an excellent commuter car that is completely reliable and economic.

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Our current Yaris is our third Yaris. It is a 2011 model 3 door hatchback. We currently have 93,109 miles on it and we've never had any problems. We drive it hard and fast, 65-75+mph routinely, and have never... + More »
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February 12, 2017
For 2014 Toyota Yaris

Watch for blind spots

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Overal love this vehicle, it's comfy and compact yet spacious, however there is one issue that has been creating problems with blind spots on many occasions. The frame around the windshield on the drivers side... + More »
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February 12, 2017
2014 Toyota Yaris 3-Door Liftback Automatic L (TMC/CBU Plant) (GS)

Good low priced reliable economy car

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I've had the car for a year, bought it used , and so far it's been very reliable. Gas mileage is in the low 30s in city driving and 40 to 45 mpg hwy. at low highway speeds. The car is basic, but came with... + More »
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June 14, 2015
2011 Toyota Yaris 3-Door Liftback Automatic (SE)

As with my 1980 Toyota Celica it is a heck of a quality vehicle!

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Fit and finish of exterior and interior materials far exceed that of cars rated equaly for the same class. It takes a beating and keeps on ticking...(TIMEX)
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February 27, 2016
For 2010 Toyota Yaris

Even better than our 2007 Yaris

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The car has everything we liked about our first (2007) Yaris plus some more modern features. The ABS and traction control give the car even better performance in snow as compared to the 2007. Side curtain... + More »
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July 14, 2015
2008 Toyota Yaris 3-Door HB Manual (SE)

Really good basic car

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My Yaris was purchased as a replacement for my '02 VW Beetle Turbo Sport. Overall, I am happy with it as a replacement. The only things I really miss from the VW are the turbo and the sunroof. I have had to... + More »
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April 22, 2015
2007 Toyota Yaris 3-Door HB Manual (SE)

Most satisfying car I've ever owned.

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Although a small car for a large guy I have adequate room - especially headroom. The gas mileage keeps improving as the car gets older - we've been getting over 40 mpg overall during the non-winter months... + More »
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