Redesigned Toyota Vitz offers early look at U.S. 2012 Yaris model

By Editors on December 22, 2010 1:58 PM

Just launched in Japan where it's marketed as the Toyota Vitz, this new iteration of the automaker's popular compact five-door hatch will be coming to America sometime within the next 12 months badged as the 2012 Toyota Yaris. This third-generation Vitz/Yaris benefits from a major recasting effort that gives it more aggressive styling cues, greater operating efficiency, and an even larger, better-appointed passenger compartment.

Edgier bodywork contours on the new Vitz/Yaris yield a bolder look and an even cleaner aero profile, both of which should be helpful as it attempts to broaden its potential buyer base, particularly here in the U.S. Inside, the new dash with its large multi-information display and higher-quality trim bits impart a more upscale feel and the first use of a new strain of UV-reducing glass in the doors helps block out 99 percent of the sun's rays. Redesigned seats add a new measure of comfort and support while nearly two added inches of wheelbase nets rear passengers in the Vitz/Yaris over an inch more legroom as well as more cargo space -- which can be further enhanced by folding down the backs on the standard 60/40 rear seat.

Toyota has not indicated whether the current U.S. powertrain combos (1.5-liter/106-horsepower four-cylinder with 5M/4A transmission choices) will carry over or change. However, the domestic-market Vitz offers new super-efficient 1.0-liter/1.3-liter engines that make 69/95 horses, respectively, employ mileage-making start/stop technology and are backed by a continuously variable automatic (CVT) transmission. Japanese buyers also can opt for a sporty Vitz RS variant that gets a 1.5-liter/110-horsepower engine and a five-speed manual gearbox.