Even the top-of-the-line fully loaded 2012 Toyota Yaris is under $20,000, and will save you money while you drive it, since it gets an estimated 30 mpg city and 38 mpg highway.
Safety features — Equally important, the all-new Yaris is loaded with safety features, some of which are unusual in a car this size and price. Standard driver and front-passenger dual-stage airbags (SRS) are complemented by front-seat mounted side airbags and a knee airbag for the driver. Roll-sensing side airbags are fitted to both front- and rear-row seats for a total of nine airbags. Like all Toyota vehicles, the Yaris features Vehicle Stability Control (VSC), Traction Control (TRAC), Anti-lock Braking System (ABS), Electronic Brake-Force Distribution (EBD) and Brake Assist. Plus, the new Yaris features Toyota’s breakthrough brake-override system, as standard.
New to the 2012 Yaris is Toyota’s system to reduce whiplash injuries to driver and front-seat passenger. The seat design and technology helps to ensure that all areas from the head to the lower back are equally supported, helping to reduce whiplash-type injuries during certain types of collisions. Halogen headlamps and intermittent front windshield wiper are also standard.
That’s a lot of safety features crammed into a vehicle with a starting price of just $14,115.
Style and handling — The Yaris has been redesigned for 2012 with sportier styling and handling. It’s two inches longer and nearly an inch lower than previous model years, and the longer, lower stance means tighter, more responsive handling in city traffic or on longer road trips. A small turning radius also means it is easier to park in tight spots.The most popular model is the liftback, which Toyota says is preferred by 70 percent of sub-compact buyers. The new Yaris will be offered in three grades, with the entry-level L and value-packaged LE editions available either as a three-door liftback or five-door liftback. The sport-tuned SE is available only as a five-door.
Power and performance — The 2012 Toyota Yaris is powered by a 106 horsepower 1.5-liter, 16-valve, four-cylinder engine with variable valve timing (VVT), unusual in a vehicle i with intelligence (VVT-i). Choose between a new four-speed electronically controlled automatic transmission, or a featuring a more compact, lighter-weight design and reduced friction for greater fuel efficiency. A smooth-shifting five-speed manual transmission is available on L and SE models only. And it adds up to 30/38 mph.
Warranty — Toyota’s 36-month/36,000 mile basic new-car warranty applies to all components other than normal wear and maintenance items. Additional 60-month warranties cover the powertrain for 60,000 miles and against corrosion with no mileage limitation. The all-new Toyota Yaris will also come standard with Toyota Care, a complimentary plan covering normal factory-scheduled maintenance and 24-hour roadside assistance for two years or 25,000 miles, whichever comes first.
Other best buy cars under $20,000 to check out —
All in all, the 2012 Toyota Yaris is a great little car, offering safety, performance, style and fuel efficiency for a budget price.