Monday, May 14, 2012

Car Review: Toyota’s Yaris 2012 redesign is its snappiest econo-hatch

Small, but efficient and redesigned for 2012, the Toyota Yaris might be one car you don’t want to pass up when searching for the perfect small vehicle that is big on handling and short on gas guzzling.

Since the Yaris has been fully redesigned it comes with better handling while being stylish to a fault, and it’s roomier too with 2.9 inches added this year giving it more luggage space for the long haul.

Competition includes the Hyundai Accent, Chevrolet Sonic and the Nissan Versa, to name a few. Since it is a subcompact, you can get the 2012 Toyota Yaris with either two doors or the four-door hatchback. There are the L and LE trims in either option and there is also the sportier SE trim that can be had in the four-door.

The only other option you can expect on the Yaris is cruise control and that is only on the LE trim level. Otherwise, the standards on the L are 15-inch steel wheels, an intermittent front mono-arm windshield wiper, a rear windshield wiper, power door locks, air-conditioning, four-way-adjustable front seats, a tilt steering wheel, a trip computer, a fold-down rear bench seat, a cargo cover and a four-speaker CD player, a USB audio interface, and satellite radio.

On the LE the standard features are power windows, remote keyless entry, a six-way-adjustable driver seat, auxiliary steering-wheel-mounted audio controls, an upgraded interior, 60/40-split fold-down rear seat, and Bluetooth audio and phone connect.

On the sporty SE trim level there is sport-tuned suspension, 16-inch alloy wheels, performance tires, a notably cool grille, fog lamps, cruise control, leather-trimmed steering wheel, and upgraded cloth upholstery.

Under the hood look for front-wheel drive only and that is with a 1.5-liter inline-4 engine that will give you 106 horsepower and 103 pound-feet of torque. A five-speed manual transmission is the standard with a four-speed automatic as an option.

Safety, as in all the subcompact models, offers antilock brakes meaning rear drums on all but the SE, which has four-wheel discs instead. You can also expect traction and stability control, active front head restraints front seat side airbags and front and rear side-curtain, and a driver knee airbag.

Inside the Toyota Yaris, it’s a comfortable ride that offers support for the driver and front-seat passenger. Even the back seats offer a fair amount of room given the subcompact class and there is plenty of leg room overall, except for perhaps the tallest passenger.

While the Yaris in years past might not have garnered a high confidence factor, this one is a change for the better since the cabin is trendier, modern and comfortable.

Another plus with the redesign is the stereo system with the four speakers that are now standard and a sound quality that won’t disappoint.

The luggage space is 15.6 cubic feet and, while less room than in other subcompacts, some of the competition certainly won’t offer such confidence overall.

Easy to drive and easy to handle means that if you are in the market for an inexpensive compact, but still want a flare for the sporty, the SE trim is a must to look at before making a final decision.

Should You Need to Know: While it’s a subcompact with a fair level of competition, the 2012 Toyota Yaris will still inspire confidence in that it feels solid and takes the road and the turns with grace and ease.

Miles Per Gallon: I drove the 2012 Yaris LE Liftback and got 30 miles per gallon in the city and 35 miles per gallon on the highway.

Cost: For the LE Liftback, the price came in at $16,815.

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