Pleasant handling; impressive safety features; assertive sheet metal.
Navigation system isn't available; less cargo capacity than some rivals.
Toyota executives introduce the 2012 Toyota Yaris at a trendy Culver City eatery overrun with cartoonlike sculptures and angst-ridden paintings; it's the kind of place that calls itself a "café/shop/art space." The youthful vibe of the location is no accident, what with Toyota hoping to snare a younger buyer (via an all-digital campaign, naturally) with this new, second-generation Yaris.
Of course, you need more than just targeted marketing to make this happen. Though last year's modest 106-horsepower 1.5-liter engine remains, more emphasis has been placed on making the Yaris fun to drive, and our test car is part of an all-new SE trim that features sharper steering and a sport-tuned suspension. Every Yaris gets assertive new sheet metal and spruced-up cabins — no more awkward, center-mounted gauges. And the previous generation's pitiful cargo capacity sees some improvement, with the current model offering up to 68 percent more room for your luggage.
Toyota also hopes to set the Yaris apart on the strength of its safety features, and the car is equipped with nine standard airbags and front seats designed to mitigate whiplash injury.
Overall, it's not a bad package, but it's not enough to make us forget the well-rounded Ford Fiesta, the versatile Hyundai Accent. Still, this new 2012 Toyota Yaris is undeniably good-looking and pleasant to drive. Factor in its impressive safety amenities along with Toyota's record for reliability and it's easy to see the car striking the right balance for certain buyers.
The 2012 Toyota Yaris is powered by a 1.5-liter inline-4 good for 106 hp and 103 pound-feet of torque. It's the same engine seen in the outgoing model, but this time around it has less weight to move, since the current Yaris is lighter by about 40 pounds or so. In our test car, the engine is teamed with a new four-speed automatic transmission (a six-speed manual is also available). A four-speed automatic may seem low-tech given that there are many six-speed automatics in this segment, but the setup deserves credit for going about its business without the excessive, fuel-conscious downshifting seen in transmissions offered by larger compact sedans like the Chevrolet Cruze.
While the Yaris certainly isn't one of the quicker choices in this segment, there's enough pep on hand to allow you to navigate both city and freeway traffic with no panicked moments. And what our SE test car lacks in speed, it makes up for by way of its affable handling; it feels light and spry on the road, and maintains its composure in corners.
Our test car's driving dynamics represent an improvement over those of the previous Yaris, and that's exactly as Toyota planned it; the SE features a sport-tuned suspension designed to make the daily commute more enjoyable. Steering is quicker as well, and the chassis has been engineered for a tauter, more together feel even as a wheelbase that's 2 inches longer makes the ride more stable and comfortable.
With the automatic transmission, the Yaris gets EPA-rated mileage of 30 city/35 highway mpg and 32 mpg combined. These figures are quite respectable — the base model Honda Fit gets 28/35/31 and the Nissan Versa gets 24/32/27. Still, buyers who want an even more frugal choice will want to take a look at the Hyundai Accent (30/40/33) and Ford Fiesta with the SFE option (29/40/33).
One consequence of the SE's keener suspension is ride quality that falls on the stiffer side of the spectrum, but there's still enough comfort in the mix to keep the car well-behaved on the road. Most surface unpleasantness is capably neutralized.
The front seats are perched high to present commanding views of the road ahead. The SE model features sport seats, but they're flatter and less aggressively bolstered than most others we've encountered, which makes them suitable even for wider drivers. The chairs are well-padded and supportive, and serve as an agreeable roost throughout the three or so hours we spend piloting the Yaris through Los Angeles and Santa Monica on our test loop.
There's some road and tire noise to be heard as the 2012 Toyota Yaris navigates surface streets, and when we hit the highway, wind noise also makes an appearance. None of it is excessive, but if you're a stickler for cabin serenity, keep in mind that the Accent offers a quieter time behind the wheel.
As is the case with most economy cars, the Yaris boasts a control layout that's blessedly intuitive; heat and air-conditioning are governed by a familiar three-knob setup. Audio controls are managed via a handful of logically placed buttons and knobs; four buttons to the left of the center stack allow you to select a band, and they're joined by a large volume control knob, and buttons to the bottom right that allow you to assign or select your favorite stations. The display screen is on the small side, but there's enough real estate to present information in an easily legible way.
Once upon a time, you didn't expect much by way of tech from cars in the Yaris' humble price range, but those days are well behind us. Our SE features Bluetooth with phonebook access, music streaming via Bluetooth wireless technology and an iPod interface. There's also a USB port, though we wish it had been placed in a less awkward location; it's found deep in the roof of the glovebox.
One tech feature you won't find in the 2012 Toyota Yaris is a factory-installed navigation system. However, we suspect that this is less of an issue these days than it was in times past, since there are currently tons of portable and handheld navigation units on the market that do the job for thousands less than the costly factory-installed systems you get with a new car.
There's not much by way of in-cabin storage. There's no center console bin and the door bins are small, though they are equipped to fit taller water bottles.
On the plus side, though, the Yaris' backseat is surprisingly spacious, with lots of legroom. Additionally, since the front seats are mounted high off the ground, they offer ample space underneath where those seated in the second row can plant their toes and feet if they need to.
At 15.6 cubic feet, cargo capacity in our SE represents a big improvement over that of the previous Yaris. Still, it trails that of many others in this segment; you'll get more utility with the Fit (20.6 cubic feet), Accent (21.2 cubic feet) and Versa (17.8 cubic feet).
Visibility is decent from most angles, thanks to the car's generous greenhouse.
Design/Fit and Finish
With its heroic square jaw and lower stance (0.6 inch shorter than its predecessor), the 2012 Toyota Yaris speaks a design language that's more forceful than that of the previous generation. The cabin design is simple yet attractive; the center stack, especially, is intuitively laid out, while at the same time reflecting modern flair.
Materials quality is good for this segment, though not especially ambitious. Buttons feel stable and secure, and knobs turn with precise, well-damped movement.
Who should consider this vehicle
Though the 2012 Toyota Yaris is marketed toward younger drivers, the car is a decent fit for drivers of all ages who want a small, inexpensive car with amenable driving dynamics and good-looking sheet metal. It trails cars like the Accent and Fiesta in highway mileage; still, its respectable city and combined mileage figures make it a solid pick for fuel-conscious drivers who spend lots of time on surface streets.
The manufacturer provided Edmunds this vehicle for the purposes of evaluation.
2012 Toyota Yaris Overview
The 2012 Toyota Yaris is offered in the following submodels: Sedan, Hatchback. Available styles include LE 4dr Hatchback (1.5L 4cyl 4A), L 4dr Hatchback (1.5L 4cyl 4A), and L 2dr Hatchback (1.5L 4cyl 4A). Yaris models are available with a 1.5 l-liter gas engine, with output up to 106 hp, depending on engine type. The 2012 Yaris comes with front wheel drive. Available transmissions include: 4-speed automatic. The 2012 Yaris comes with a 3 yr./ 36000 mi. basic warranty, a 2 yr./ 25000 mi. roadside warranty, and a 5 yr./ 60000 mi. powertrain warranty.
What's a good price on a used 2012 Toyota Yaris?
Save up to $0 on one of 19 used 2012 Toyota Yariss for sale at dealerships within 25 miles of Ashburn, Virginia with prices as low as $6298 as of Nov 17, 2017, based on data from 17 dealers and 7 consumer-driven dealer ratings ranging from 3 to 5 out of 5 stars.
Price comparisons for used 2012 Toyota Yaris trim styles:
The 2012 Toyota Yaris L is priced around $7665 with average odometer reading of 73085 miles.
The 2012 Toyota Yaris Fleet is priced around $7728 with average odometer reading of 95353 miles.
The 2012 Toyota Yaris LE is priced around $7990 with average odometer reading of 66266 miles.
The 2012 Toyota Yaris SE is priced around $10825 with average odometer reading of 34078 miles.
Shop with Edmunds for perks and special offers on used cars, trucks, and SUVs near Ashburn, Virginia. Doing so could save you hundreds or thousands of dollars. Edmunds also provides consumer-driven dealership sales and service reviews to help you make informed decisions about what cars to buy and where to buy them.
Is the 2012 Toyota Yaris a good car? Edmunds experts have compiled a robust series of ratings and reviews for the 2012 Toyota Yaris and all model years in our database. Our rich content includes expert reviews and recommendations for the 2012 Yaris featuring deep dives into trim levels and features, performance, mpg, safety, interior, and driving. Edmunds also offers expert ratings, road test and performance data, long-term road tests, first-drive reviews, video reviews and more.
Our Review Process All of our reviews are written by a member of Edmunds' editorial team of expert car reviewers. Our team drives every car you can buy. We put the vehicles through rigorous testing, evaluating how they drive and comparing them in detail to their competitors.
We're also regular people like you, so we pay attention to all the different ways people use their cars every day. We want to know if there's enough room for our families and our weekend gear and whether or not our favorite drink fits in the cupholder. Our editors want to help you make the best decision on a car that fits your life.
How do people like the 2012 Toyota Yaris? Consumer ratings and reviews are also available for the 2012 Toyota Yaris and all its trim types. Overall, Edmunds users rate the 2012 Yaris 4 on a scale of 1 to 5 stars. Edmunds consumer reviews allow users to sift through aggregated consumer reviews to understand what other drivers are saying about any vehicle in our database. Detailed rating breakdowns (including performance, comfort, value, interior, exterior design, build quality, and reliability) are available as well to provide shoppers with a comprehensive understanding of why customers like the 2012 Yaris.
Review I've only had my new 2012 Yaris 3 DR LE a couple of weeks but so far I am impressed. Has good visibility: sits a little higher than my 2001 Corolla LE - gas mileage pretty good, according to the display I'm averaging 33 mpg, all city driving...Driver's seat very comfortable. I love the design of the dashboard/controls, all easy to reach and good-sized control knobs. The two-tone dash (black and soft grey) looks expensive and instead of being perfectly smooth it has a little bit of texture to it. Mine is the Wave Line Pearl color, a light blue. Tire are pretty good quality, Goodyear Assurance. I haven't sat in the rear yet but it looks to be fairly roomy. Handling is good.
How can Edmunds help? Edmunds has deep data on over 6 million new, used, and certified pre-owned vehicles, including rich, trim-level features and specs information like: MSRP, average price paid, warranty information (basic, drivetrain, and maintenance), features (upholstery, bluetooth, navigation, heated seating, cooled seating, cruise control, parking assistance, keyless ignition, satellite radio, folding rears seats ,run flat tires, wheel type, tire size, wheel tire, sunroof, etc.), vehicle specifications (engine cylinder count, drivetrain, engine power, engine torque, engine displacement, transmission), fuel economy (city, highway, combined, fuel capacity, range), vehicle dimensions (length, width, seating capacity, cargo space), car safety, true cost to own. Edmunds also provides tools to allow shopper to compare vehicles to similar models of their choosing by warranty, interior features, exterior features, specifications, fuel economy, vehicle dimensions, consumer rating, edmunds rating, and color
Is the 2012 Toyota Yaris safe? The 2012 Toyota Yaris earned a 4-star overall safety rating from NHTSA and "GOOD" ratings from the IIHS in the following caregories: and a JD POWER overall quality rating of 5.0 out of 5. Among Edmunds' many tools and resources for finding your perfect car are detailed safety ratings and analysis from NHTSA, IIHS, and JD Power, including overall ratings, frontal barrier crash ratings, side impact tests and crash ratings, rollover test results, roof strength tests, rear crash protection and head restraint ratings, side barrier ratings, combined side barrier and pole ratings, and more.
2012 toyota yaris LE 4dr Hatchback (1.5L 4cyl 4A), 4-speed automatic, regular unleaded 32 combined MPG 30 city MPG/35 highway MPG
2012 toyota yaris L 4dr Hatchback (1.5L 4cyl 4A), 4-speed automatic, regular unleaded 32 combined MPG 30 city MPG/35 highway MPG
2012 toyota yaris L 2dr Hatchback (1.5L 4cyl 4A), 4-speed automatic, regular unleaded 32 combined MPG 30 city MPG/35 highway MPG
What options are available on the 2012 Toyota Yaris?
Available Toyota Yaris 2012 Submodel Types: Hatchback, Sedan
Available Trims: LE, Base, L, S, Fleet, SE
Exterior Colors: Super White, Black Sand Pearl, Magnetic Gray Metallic, Classic Silver Metallic, Absolutely Red, Meteorite Metallic, Polar White, Barcelona Red Metallic, Blazing Blue Pearl, Carmine Red Metallic, Silver Streak Mica, Zephyr Blue Metallic, Bayou Blue Pearl, Blazing Blue, Lagoon Blue Mica, Ruby Flare Pearl, Wave Line Pearl, Blue Eclipse Metallic, Blue Streak Metallic, Flint Mica, Nautical Blue Metallic, Olive Mist, Pacific Blue Metallic, Waveline Pearl
Interior Colors: Dark Charcoal cloth, Black (Circles) cloth, Ash cloth, Black (Circle) cloth, Black cloth, Dark Charcoal premium cloth, Bisque cloth, Dark Gray premium cloth, Bisque premium cloth, Black (Channel) premium cloth
Popular Features: Rear Bench Seats, Tire Pressure Warning, Fold Flat Rear Seats, Stability Control, Aux Audio Inputs, Trip Computer, USB Inputs, Bluetooth, Audio and cruise controls on steering wheel, Lane Departure Warning, Pre-collision safety system, Back-up camera