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3/4 Front Glamour 2012 Toyota Yaris

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Expert's Rating


MPG 30 City / 36 Highway
  • Many standard safety features
  • Easy to drive
  • Low base price
  • Some cabin materials feel cheap
  • Inconvenient center instrument cluster
  • Lacks quality found in other Toyotas
, Automotive Editor -
The Toyota Yaris is not the most exciting mode of transportation, but that isn't its mission in life. It's an efficient subcompact hatchback, a 3 or 5-door, that's nippy in city driving while offering enough interior flexibility to haul either passengers or cargo or some combination of the two. It's also very inexpensive, and appeals to either young drivers looking for their first new car or older drivers who need something that's easy to drive and cheap to run. If price and efficiency are the biggest priorities, the Yaris could be right for you.


The Yaris starts off in L trim. Like all Yaris models, it gets a 1.6-liter four-cylinder with 106 horsepower. The standard transmission is a five-speed manual, though most cars have the optional four-speed automatic. Available with three or five doors, it comes with 15-inch wheels, air conditioning, central locking, tilt steering wheel, folding rear seat and a four-speaker audio system with an AUX input. The better-equipped LE comes standard with automatic transmission, power windows, power door locks with remote keyless entry and a six-speaker audio system with Bluetooth. The sporty SE comes only as a five-door, but is available with a manual transmission. It has 16-inch alloy wheels, a lowered suspension, special body-colored trim and cruise control.

See the rest of our picks for best sedans in the CarsDirect 2012 Sedan Buying Guide.

The Honda Fit is better to drive and much more versatile than the Yaris, but costs more and is less efficient. The Ford Fiesta offers up to 40 MPG highway and is much more fun to drive, but is smaller and more expensive. The Nissan Versa sedan has a larger back seat and lower base price, but the interior is very cheap. The Hyundai Accent has a more powerful engine and better interior, but isn't that exciting to drive.

Overall, the Pilot is a solid choice for buyers seeking a sturdy SUV that can carry plenty of people or cargo. Available all-wheel drive provides confidence-inspiring security in rain or snow, while luxury models smooth off some of the Pilot’s utilitarian edge. Competitive prices, a healthy roster of standard features and Honda’s history of strong resale value add further luster, making the Pilot well worth considering.

Which Style To Buy?

2012 Toyota Yaris
Starting price

2012 Toyota Yaris L

Recommended for: Buyers looking for basic transportation

The Yaris L is one of the most basic cars you can buy new today, but that's also reflected in its low price. It has the same engine all Yarises have, a 1.6-liter 105 horsepower four-cylinder. It's mated to either a five-speed manual or a four-speed automatic as a three-door hatchback, but the five-door hatch comes only with the automatic. Standard amenities include 15-inch wheels with covers, air conditioning, a folding rear seat, cloth seats, four-speaker audio system with AUX and USB inputs, tilt steering wheel, power door locks, cargo cover and vanity mirrors. There are no options available, also keeping the L's price down. So while it doesn't have flashy features, the base Yaris has all of the essentials a brand new car should.

2012 Toyota Yaris
Starting price

2012 Toyota Yaris LE

Recommended for: Buyers who want a small car with more creature comforts

The LE adds a few more desirable features to the L's essentials. All Yaris LE hatchbacks get the four-speed automatic transmission with the 1.6. Also included are power windows and power mirrors, height adjustment for the driver's seat, a six-speaker audio system with HD radio and Bluetooth streaming audio and phone connectivity, a split-folding rear seat, chrome interior door handles, remote keyless entry and an engine immobilizer. Cruise control is optional. The LE's price is still fairly low for a subcompact hatchback, so slightly more money could give you a better-equipped car than the bargain basement L and makes the LE a worthwhile consideration if you're shopping for a Yaris.

2012 Toyota Yaris
Starting price

2012 Toyota Yaris SE

Recommended for: Shoppers looking for a small car with more style

The SE is the sportiest Yaris and adds some more youthful touches to the LE's more conservative package. SE comes in five-door hatchback guise with either the manual or automatic transmissions. They are distinguished by darkened trim on the headlights and body, a special sport body kit, rear spoiler, fog lights, a mesh grille and 16-inch alloy wheels. Inside, there are better-bolstered sport front seats, cruise control, leather-wrapped steering wheel and shift knob and a more comprehensive gauge package. The SE is the trendiest Yaris but also adds some useful styling touches that make it look less like an economy car.

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