|The 2012 Toyota Yaris SE features all-new exterior styling. Photo by Curtis Reesor.|
|Andy getting into the Yaris. The SE has a unique front fascia, fog lamps, and 16" alloy wheels. Photo by Curtis Reesor.|
|Gone is the previous Yaris' center gauge cluster and upper passenger glovebox, but the new interior is nicer overall.|
Speaking of steering, it is one of the Yaris’ best attributes. Where the old Yaris featured an over-boosted system with little feel, the SE has great feel, and is extremely quick and agile. In fact, the steering ratio on the SE is quicker than the non-SE Yaris models. Add the SE’s sport suspension, and you’ve got a very tossible canyon carver that loves the corners. Amazingly, the ride doesn’t suffer, either. We put more than 450 miles on the car and never felt uncomfortable, even on the long trips. A nice blend of handling and ride.
|The Yaris might not be super powerful, but it is very nimble and fun to drive. Photo by Curtis Reesor.|
Even though this is the sporty version, it only makes 106 horsepower and 103 ft./lbs. of torque—the same as all Yaris models. But the Yaris is also the featherweight of the class weighing just 2,375 lbs. (For comparison’s sake, the Chevrolet Sonic turbo weighs more than 2,800 lbs. but makes 138 hp.) The driving experience is quite fun. The quick steering, light curb weight , well-defined shifter, and four-wheel disc brakes make the car more entertaining to drive that you might expect. We did notice a fair amount of road noise and engine racket during acceleration, though.
Our five-speed Yaris SE tester retails for $17,340 including $760 in destination and $150 for carpeted floor mats—a very reasonable price. The Yaris has certainly grown up, become more sophisticated, and improved over the previous generation. It’s true that the powertrain isn’t the newest, and its chassis is very similar to the last model. But it’s very much improved in all respects, and it deserves a look for those shopping for a great combination of fuel efficiency, sporty handling, and what is likely to be legendary Toyota reliability.
|The Yaris SE is sporty, easy on gas, stylish, and improved over the previous generation. Photo by Curtis Reesor.|