By KBB.com Editors
KBB Expert Rating: 6.2
In the subcompact category, Toyota's Yaris was getting run over by newer, more edgy competitors such as the Honda Fit, Ford Fiesta and MAZDA2. To remedy the situation, Toyota has revamped the 2012 Toyota Yaris hatchback (called a liftback in Toyota-speak), giving new life to its larger, more stylish and more content-heavy small car. Realizing that 70 percent of subcompacts sold in the U.S. are of the hatchback variety, Toyota has killed off the sedan model, offering only a 3-door and 5-door hatch. The 2012 Toyota Yaris hatchback hopes to lure younger buyers with its newly acquired suite of high-tech audio and communications features, attractive styling, and the well established Toyota reliability and resale story. But, the Yaris' mission isn't going to be an easy one. Just this year, a host of new competitors has joined the subcompact party, including the sleek new Kia Rio, sassy Hyundai Accent and the bold Chevrolet Sonic.
If you're looking for small, economical car that is fun to drive, affordable on just about any budget, and is backed by one of the most respected car manufacturers in the world, the 2012 Toyota Yaris hatchback is for you.
If, like you, your car needs to be expressive both inside and out, the 2012 Toyota Yaris' black and gray interior colors can't hold a candle to the colorful cabins found in the Ford Fiesta, Kia Rio and Chevy Sonic.
For 2012, Toyota gives the Yaris hatchback a complete makeover, with new sheet metal, a longer wheelbase and a new interior.
Driving Impressions Driving the 2012 Toyota Yaris hatchback is just what you might expect but with a few surprises. The 1.5-liter 4-cylinder engine uses a variable-valve-timing system (known as VVT-i) and dual-overhead...camshafts and is rated at 106 horsepower. There is a light, almost effortless feel to the Yaris in steering and during moderate acceleration; however, the engine seems strained when asked to deliver more. Things get a bit more lively in the SE trim, which, although it doesn't have more power, does deliver better steering response and a more controlled ride. Fuel economy is in the mid to high 30s, which is near the top of its class. Still, the biggest problem the Yaris faces is the horsepower challenge. The Yaris' closet competitor, the Honda Fit, has 11 more horsepower, and the Kia Rio an additional 22. This kind of subtle difference may not impact you but, if you're in any way interested in quickness and responsiveness, the Yaris might fail to impress.
Available on all trims (either as a factory option or a dealer-installed one), this device makes it far safer to drive and talk on the phone simultaneously and should be standard on every car.
Always a concern when driving a subcompact, the safety issue is laid to rest with standard airbags protecting the front and rear passengers. Even the driver's knees are covered.
The 2012 Toyota Yaris hatchback subcompact's interior is a bit of a contradiction. While the design is clean and modern, the materials look and feel rather low-budget, with lots of muted gray and black plastic bits, and seat fabric that is somewhat generic Toyota. On the plus side, the 2012 Toyota Yaris' interior is pretty roomy for such a small car, with good headroom front and rear. The hatchback design allows for easy loading of cargo, which with the rear seats up is a respectable 15.6 cubic feet. The 2012 Toyota Yaris includes a nice, thick-grip 3-spoke adjustable steering wheel with a flat bottom to make entry and exit a bit less cumbersome. Music lovers will appreciate the standard USB and auxiliary input ports, as well as the AM/FM stereo with MP3/WMA CD compatibility; the LE and SE trims have even more features including Bluetooth streaming audio. On the safety front, the Yaris has nine airbags including front and rear side-curtain airbags and a driver's knee airbag.
The new 2012 Toyota Yaris subcompact retains the previous car's mechanicals (engine, transmission and suspension), but now rides on a wheelbase that is two inches longer. The Yaris' overall length grows by three inches, but its height is slightly reduced to give it a sleeker, sportier appearance. The 2012 Toyota Yaris retains its bulldog stance, looking as though it is leaning forward ready to pick a fight. The short front and rear overhangs and short hood should make maneuvering through tight spots a breeze, as should the expansive greenhouse that provides excellent 360-degree visibility. The 2012 Toyota Yaris subcompact is the first Toyota vehicle to employ a single-windshield-wiper design, a feature normally found only on high-end European cars. Base model L and LE cars ride on 15-inch steel wheels with plastic covers, while the sporty SE trim has 16-inch alloy wheels.
While the 2012 Toyota Yaris might not be the most feature-laden Toyota, it certainly carries the most simplified options list. Base cars include a 5-speed manual transmission, electric power steering, air conditioning, power door locks, intermittent wipers, halogen headlights and a Cold Weather Package that includes a rear defroster. The LE trim adds a 4-speed automatic transmission, HD radio with six speakers, Bluetooth hands-free phone connectivity and streaming audio, power windows and mirrors, remote keyless entry and alarm, 6-way adjustable driver's and 4-way adjustable passenger's seat, and a 60/40 split folding rear seat. The sporty SE is available only as a 5-door model and adds a sport suspension, 16-inch alloy wheels, 4-wheel disc brakes, cruise control, rear spoiler, sport front seats with sport fabric and sport analog instruments. All 2012 Toyota Yaris hatchbacks feature Toyota's Star Safety system with nine airbags, anti-lock brakes (ABS) and electronic traction and stability control.
The only factory option is cruise control, which can be added to the LE trim. There are, however, a number of dealer-installed accessories including Bluetooth, an auto-dimming rearview mirror, iPod interface and carpeted floor mats.
The 2012 Toyota Yaris 3- and 5-door hatchbacks share the same 1.5-liter 4-cylinder engine with Variable Valve Timing with Intelligence (VVT-i), producing 106 horsepower. This is enough power to tool around town, but maybe not enough to take a chance at passing a Mack truck on a 2-way highway with an oncoming car in sight.
1.5-liter in-line 4
106 horsepower @ 6,000 rpm
103 lb-ft of torque @ 4,200 rpm
EPA city/highway fuel economy: 30/38 (manual), 30/35 (automatic)
By Phyllis on Saturday, August 16, 2014
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 5,150overall rating 10 of 10rating details
Cons: "None, really"
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 10
"I'm 88 years old and I can't really drive safely anymore. It's been my cute little sports car. My last hurrah. $17,000 new The car is perky and looking at it makes me smile It's never been in an accident It's never broken down It's been living in a garage for most of it's life and it's spent most of it's life in Monroe Township. It hasn't been driven much in the past year, when it's been 'living' in Woodland Park."
5 people out of 8 found this review helpful
By revlvr on Sunday, January 19, 2014
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 27,650overall rating 6 of 10rating details
Pros: "TPS, nine airbags, stability control, gas mileage"
Cons: "manual windows, spaciousness, body style/design"
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 6
"I give the 2012 Toyota Yaris 5dr Liftback Auto LE model an overall 6/10 rating. I have yet to have any major mechanical issues with this model or my previous 2007 Toyota Yaris Base 4dr Sedan model, which had 130,000 miles on it before I traded it in for this 2012 model. My main reason for staying with the Toyota Yaris was due to the excellent gas mileage, low maintenance costs, and superb maneuverability and drivability benefits. Unfortunately, when it comes down to comfort and overall value of what you're getting, there is much to be desired in comparison to the 2007 Toyota Yaris. This 2012 model has had a complete body style transformation. Personally, I'm not a fan of the missing arm rest, bizarre hatchback body style (which basically has the visual appeal of a miniaturized mini-van), the still prevalent manual windows, the exact same laggy engine, and the small viewing window reversal which now sits in the front window area instead of the rear. With the small viewing window being positioned up front now, it makes it easier for potential thieves to bust out that window and have direct access to the interior automatic door locks. In the 2007 Yaris, the viewing window being in the back was genius because the sideways styled locks could not be accessed easily by a thief. On the other hand, the bonuses of the 2012 model versus the 2007 model are the TPS (tire pressure sensor) detection, cruise control, automatic door locks (only from the inside of the vehicle), nine airbags (yes, you read that right), stability control, actual gas gauge meter (goodbye silly battery style gas meter that the 2007 model bore), and mostly black interior which used to be only for the sportier SE models. Overall, this model is just as gas efficient and easy to drive as its fore sisters, is safer (as far as airbags are concerned), and has some useful additional features that its predecessor didn't offer. It may not be the prettiest or sportiest or most spacious compact sedan out there, but at the end of the day, "it's a car!""
25 people out of 41 found this review helpful
By Eevee on Tuesday, January 07, 2014
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 31,000overall rating 9 of 10rating details
Pros: "Affordable, Fun to drive, Gas Mileage, Comforatble"
Cons: "No center console"
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 9
"When I bought this car I was an inexperienced driver, but when I drove it home I was incredulous at the ease of driving the car. It handles like a dream but it not overly sensitive nor dull. It is comfortable to drive and extremely agile. Most importantly it was affordable, but came with all the features I want. I recommend this car to young drivers who are still getting comfortable driving and to people who want an affordable, agile, and comfortable ride."
7 people out of 9 found this review helpful
By Falconrocks on Sunday, December 08, 2013
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 10,200overall rating 10 of 10rating details
Pros: "trunk, gas mileage, turn radius, responsive"
Cons: "no armrest"
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 10
"No lie, when I first got it, I was like, what have I done?! After a few days with it, I don't think I'm ever getting rid of it. I love the spacious cabin; it's huge. Bluetooth comes standard, fun to drive, and it looks pretty good too. I had it for a week and people were giving me compliments. I love that it's small but still drives like a predator. Parking is a breeze, particularly parallel parking and even tight spots are no problem. Trunk plus drop down seats, there isn't anything my car can't haul. My car can get around anything and everything. K-Turns? This car doesn't know what that is. The turn radius is ridiculous! Usually, it's a two-point turn even on a tiny street! During Hurricane Sandy, there were cars lined up behind downed trees and small spaces. I had no problem getting through and, not to mention, gas on this guy, I'll go three to four weeks without filling up and when I do, it's no more than $40. Negatives, no armrest, but I easily purchased a universal one and you'd never be able to tell it didn't come with it. I could go on forever on the topic to why I love this car. I'm having fun customizing it and really making it my own. Even when I do get a new car, I'm pretty sure I'm going to keep Trooper around."
8 people out of 11 found this review helpful
By se owner on Wednesday, October 23, 2013
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 700overall rating 9 of 10rating details
Pros: "reliable,sporty,comfortable interior,fun to drive"
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 10
"Bought a used 2007 for fuel economy.. never had owned a hatchback or a compact for that matter ..my wife and I loved it so much we decided to give our daughter the 2007 and we bought a 2014 SE for everyday commute.. Great gas mileage and very comfortable and reliable ..did I mention the 2007 has 120000 miles and literally drives like New.. if you want horsepower it is not the car for you.. I have a 2013 dodge challenger rt with a HEMI v8 for horsepower.. but if I was to choose i would keep the yaris..At 40mpg it's a no brainer! and there is no new car that is inexpensive every new car is expensive!"
12 people out of 14 found this review helpful
By bob on Wednesday, October 02, 2013
I don't own this caroverall rating 5 of 10rating details
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 1
"Fuel economy and handling is good. Acceleration is sometimes sluggish. Road noise is unbearable, especially on freeway. Visibility is limited due to headrests. Prior to renting, I had entertained the purchase of a Yaris, but would will not as result of rental experience. I have a 2006 Corolla and 1996 Camry (235,000+). Both put the Yaris to shame and road noise is at least 75% less."
3 people out of 15 found this review helpful