2012 Toyota Yaris
2012 Toyota Yaris CE. Click image to enlarge
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Review and photos by Grant Yoxon

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2012 Toyota Yaris

Quebec City – Call it the year of the subcompact. They just keep coming one after the other. This year we’ve seen the launch of the Nissan Versa, Chevrolet Sonic, Kia Rio 5-door, Scion iQ, Hyundai Accent and late last year, the Ford Fiesta and Mazda2. Now it is Toyota’s turn with its second generation (at least in Canada) Yaris.

In 2003, Toyota introduced a hatchback variant of the sub-compact Echo, sold in other countries as the Yaris. A first generation Yaris hatchback debuted here in 2005 and now, the 2012 model marks the start of a new generation.

With completely new interior and sheet metal wrapped on a marginally longer wheelbase, the 2012 Yaris offers more interior room for passengers and cargo as well as improved ride and handling.

2012 Toyota Yaris
2012 Toyota Yaris
2012 Toyota Yaris
2012 Toyota Yaris
2012 Toyota Yaris
2012 Toyota Yaris (Top photos: CE; bottom photo: Yaris LE). Click image to enlarge

While the dimensional changes are minor, taken together they make the Yaris look sleeker, losing the two box sub-compact design that has characterized sub-compact hatchbacks the past few years. Moving the front pillar forward, widening the track and lowering the roof 15 mm also make a noticeable difference, as do larger wheels, headlamps and tail lamps that blend with the body and curve around the corners, and smoothing of the rear bumper below the hatch. Unique to the new Yaris are dual halogen headlamps and a single wiper system for the front windshield.

Inside, you will find the most radical change – the centrally-located gauges are gone, replaced by a more traditional set-up located in front of the driver. Behind the new three spoke steering wheel (which tilts but does not telescope) is a large speedometer with an integrated multi-instrument display that is standard on all Yaris models. The display includes an odometer, twin trip meters, clock, outside temperature display, fuel economy display, average speed, and on models equipped with automatic transmission, an eco-driving indicator.

Flanking the speedometer on the right is a smaller fuel gauge and on the left is a tachometer – unless you buy the base 3-door Yaris CE. Then the tachometer is replaced with a large blank space. It seems odd that a tach is not standard equipment on a car that has a multi-information display and Bluetooth cell phone connectivity and audio streaming standard.

Another CE oddity is manually-adjustable side-view mirrors. Note that this is not a remote manual adjustment. There are no levers inside the car to adjust the mirrors, meaning you will need assistance to adjust the passenger side mirror from outside the car.

Should you really feel you need a tachometer and power remote adjustable and heated side view mirrors (I know I do) you would have to give up the three door CE and opt for five-door LE model, which in base trim is only distinguished from the CE by its additional two doors and the above mentioned essential equipment.

Both the CE and LE models have standard roll-up windows and roll-down air conditioning. Air conditioning is available as a dealer installed option on the CE at $1,075 over the $13,990 base price, while a $1,100 convenience package will add air conditioning, power windows, cruise control and keyless entry to the $14,890 five-door LE.

The convenience package is standard equipment on the Yaris SE, also a five-door model, that takes the content level up several notches with its sport-tuned suspension, quicker ratio steering, four wheel disc brakes (with one inch larger front discs than found on the front disc/rear drum CE and LE) and 16-inch alloy wheels. Audio controls and cruise control are mounted on a leather trimmed steering wheel. Upgraded sport seats with six-way manual driver’s adjustment (four-way passenger) complete the $18,990 package.

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