The 2012 Toyota Yaris is by no means a bad car; in fact it surprised us on many levels. What hurt it most was its value/price/equipment quotient - It is no longer acceptable to charge more for less.
Photo: Matthieu Lambert
With a base price of $13,990, the basic 3-door Yaris wedged itself smack in the middle of the pack dollar-wise. As all the others are 5-doors, at $14,890, the 5-door Yaris becomes the second most expensive car in our group. Kit-wise, the lowest Yaris is essentially on par with the others, but as pricing increases, the small Toyota falls off pace something fierce.
The redesigned 2012 Toyota Yaris had some flair. The efforts put forth by Toyota were evident and strange at the same time. Previously, the Yaris was about a funky cabin and a subtle exterior shell. Toyota reversed their thinking whereas the dashboard is now fairly plain and the sheetmetal is creased and bulging, especially in SE trim with its more aggressive fascias.
None of the testers were displeased with the Yaris' styling; however, no one gave the car a thumbs-up. Same thing for the interior, where cheap carpeting spoiled an otherwise roomy cabin that carried decent seats. The ergonomics were good as were the now "normally" located gauges.
The displeasure with the car grew mainly because of its buzzy nature. Wind noise penetrated the cabin on the highway and the engine's exhaust note failed to be anything more than annoying. Thankfully, wheel-well soundproofing provided far better road-projection insulation than that of the Koreans.
The ergonomics were good as were the now "normally" located gauges. (Photo: Matthieu Lambert)
The Toyota Yaris' 106-hp 1.5L 4-pot supplied willing get-up-and-go but was hampered severely by the only 4-speed automatic transmission in the group. Despite being the slowest car of the group, the lack of two extra gears did not affect fuel consumption as it turned in the second-best numbers.
The drive was a mixed bag of choppiness, solidity, crisp turn-in and good brakes. Our test routes took us through the countryside where the Yaris carved corners brilliantly, only to then punish the occupants with a suspension that had difficulty managing less than perfect surfaces.
The Yaris could have placed better, but the absence of available heated seats, satellite radio and other modern niceties for equal money did not sit well with us. It may be true that the Toyota will be reliable, but it is wrong to think that the others will not be.