Used Car Review

2012 Toyota Yaris: Used Car Review

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Used 2012 Toyota Yaris LE
Used 2012 Toyota Yaris
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author photo by Ron Sessions November 2016

The subcompact 2012 Toyota Yaris is the brand's entry-level offering. All-new for 2012, the second-generation Yaris grows 2.9 inches longer bumper to bumper, but it's still a half-size smaller than other subcompacts such as the Honda Fit, the Hyundai Accent or the Ford Fiesta. For 2012, the Yaris dropped the 4-door sedan model, although a small number of previous-design 2011 sedans were offered for sale in 2012. The new second-generation Yaris is configured as a 3- or 5-door hatchback. Inside, the instrument panel is once again in front of the driver. The 2012 Yaris's steering wheel gets a thicker rim, and the seats are wider. The 2012 model's larger size is put to good use, with the cargo compartment more than doubling to over 15 cu ft. with the rear seat up. That increases to 30 cu ft. with the rear seat folded down. The Yaris comes standard with the Toyota Star Safety System, which includes Smart Stop technology, 4-wheel anti-lock brakes, stability and traction control systems and nine airbags.

Though the new, second-generation Yaris is much smaller than the Corolla, it really doesn't get substantially better fuel economy. The Yaris's strong suit is its small, highly maneuverable size, which makes driving in urban environments and parking in tight spaces a breeze. Also, because all Yaris models are hatchbacks, they can swallow a surprising amount of cargo and gear for their size.

The 2012 Yaris is a good option for first-time buyers on a budget and city-dwellers looking for a car with good safety ratings, excellent bang for the buck, highly rated reliability, good resale value and access to Toyota's extensive parts and service network.

What We Like

Toyota Star Safety System; value for dollar; generous interior storage

What We Don't

Lazy acceleration

Fuel Economy & Engine Specs

The 2012 Yaris is powered by a 1.5-liter double-overhead camshaft 16-valve 4-cylinder engine with variable valve timing. Output is modest 106 horsepower, and torque is rated at 103 lb-ft. It burns regular unleaded gas and has fuel-economy ratings of 30 miles per gallon in the city and 38 mpg on the highway with a 5-speed manual transmission and 30 mpg city/35 mpg hwy with a 4-speed automatic.

All models are equipped with front-wheel drive, and all-wheel drive is not available.

Standard Features & Options

The 2012 Toyota Yaris comes in L, LE and SE trims.

The Yaris L features standard air conditioning with a pollen filter, a tilt (not telescopic) steering column, 15-inch steel wheels with hub caps, 175/65-15 tires, intermittent wipers, power door locks, a 4-speaker AM/FM/CD/MP3 stereo with USB and iPod ports, a folding rear seat, a rear cargo cover, a rear defroster, cloth seats, an outside temperature gauge, a trip computer, a tire-pressure monitor, color-keyed folding outside mirrors and exterior door handles, stability and traction control, dual front airbags, front- and rear-seat side airbags, a driver's-knee airbag and head-curtain airbags.

The LE grade adds remote keyless entry, power windows and mirrors, steering-wheel remote audio controls, an upgraded 6-speaker audio system with HD Radio, SiriusXM satellite radio, Bluetooth hands-free phone connectivity and music streaming, a 60/40-split folding rear seatback and metallic interior trim. The LE is also optional with cruise control.

The 5-door-only SE adds sporty touches such as 4-wheel disc brakes, larger 195/50VR 16 tires on alloy wheels, faster-ratio steering, color-keyed front and rear spoilers, a color-keyed sport mesh grille, a chrome-tipped exhaust, fog lamps, sport-fabric-trimmed seats, sport gauges, cruise control, a leather-wrapped steering wheel with audio controls and multi-reflector halogen headlamps with smoked trim.


Toyota didn't sell a lot of these, so supply of used examples will be limited. Clean, low-mileage models retain their resale value and command higher used-car prices.

For a better idea of the 2012 Yaris's price range, check out, and search the Autotrader Classifieds to see what models are for sale in your area.


The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) has announced the following recall for the 2012 Yaris:

The headliner on some Yaris models does not provide sufficient impact protection, and there is an increased risk of injury in a crash.

The electric steering system module may short-circuit on some models, disabling power assist and sharply raising steering effort at low speeds, increasing the risk of a crash.

Recall repairs are required by law even if the vehicle is out of warranty. Your dealer can check to see if the repairs were performed, and if not, they'll fix the car for free.

Safety Ratings & Warranties

The NHTSA gave the 2012 Yaris 5-door hatchback a 4-star overall crash-test rating, with 4 stars for frontal impacts and rollover performance and 5 stars for side-impact performance. The 2012 Yaris 3-door hatchback was not rated.

The independent Insurance Institute for Highway Safety gave the 2012 Yaris a Marginal rating for small-overlap front impacts but a Good rating for moderate-overlap front impacts, side impacts, roof strength, head restraints and seats. The nonprofit organization named the Yaris a 2012 Top Safety Pick.

Toyota covered the 2012 Yaris with a 3-year/36,000-mile basic warranty, a 5-year/60,000-mile powertrain warranty and a 5-year/unlimited-mile corrosion-perforation warranty.

Toyota certified pre-owned (CPO) cars can't have more than 85,000 miles on the odometer and must be under 6 years old. Every CPO Yaris undergoes a 160-point inspection and gets a Carfax report. The Toyota CPO warranty covers the whole car, bumper to bumper, for 1 year or 12,000 miles and extends the original powertrain warranty to 7 years/100,000 miles with a year of roadside assistance.

Other Cars to Consider

2012 Ford Fiesta -- Also available as a 4-door sedan or 5-door hatchback, the Fiesta delivers sporty handling, good fuel economy (as much as 40 mpg hwy with the optional Super Fuel Economy Package) and up-to-date infotainment and safety systems. A 120-hp 1.6-liter 4-cylinder is the only engine choice. However, rear-seat room is cramped, the dash design is very busy, and the 6-speed dual-clutch automatic transmission is jerky.

2012 Nissan Versa -- The top-selling subcompact Versa sedan is all-new for 2012, featuring a 109-hp 1.6-liter 4-cylinder and a roomy cabin, but a cheap-looking, plasticky interior spoils the mood. Carried over unchanged is the 5-door hatchback with a 122-hp 1.8-liter 4-cylinder, good ride and a roomy interior with nice touches such as padded armrests. The hatchback provides 50.4 cu ft. of cargo space with the rear seat down.

Autotrader's Advice

Actually assembled in France, the Yaris hatchback has almost a European economy-car feel about it. Although it's not the most exciting car to drive among small cars, its fun size, extensive safety gear and sturdy Toyota reputation make it a car parents might confidently hand a college freshman the keys to. We'd suggest an LE with keyless entry, Bluetooth, SiriusXM satellite radio, power windows, mirrors and door locks and an up-level stereo with HD Radio -- it'll be easier to live with and sell at trade-in time. Look for a CPO Yaris when possible, and failing that, seek a model that has lower miles on the odometer and has seen obvious care. Finally, make sure the Yaris you're looking at has had all applicable safety recalls attended to by the dealer.

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Used 2012 Toyota Yaris LE
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2012 Toyota Yaris: Used Car Review - Autotrader