Auto Review: The meaning of Yaris
By Bill Heald - ReminderNews
Featured Article - posted Thu., Feb. 2, 2012
Car names usually seem to fit the machine pretty well, but aren’t so inspiring that folks would name their kids after them. This is probably a good thing, but in the case of the Toyota Yaris, the etymology of the name has elements with unusually interesting associations.
“The name Yaris stems from the Greek goddess ‘Charis,’ the symbol of beauty and elegance,” Toyota explains, “and the city of Paris, a cultural epicenter, along with the German expression of agreement, ‘Ya.’” Combine all that and you get “Yaris,” which is a grand moniker for an entry-level subcompact car. Like the class itself, this car has enjoyed the trickle-down of engineering and technology once only found on much more expensive cars. This ultimately means that if you’re looking for great fuel economy and a low price of admission, you don’t have to compromise on amenities and safety, like in the old days.
The new Yaris comes in two hatchback variants; a three-door and a five-door. Both are powered by a 1.5-liter Inline Four that produces 106 horsepower, and drive the front wheels via either a five-speed manual transmission or a four-speed electronic automatic. While this is clearly no powerhouse, our Yaris five-door SE tester with the automatic got the car around well and delivered good fuel economy in the mostly urban driving situations it was subjected to.
The latest Yaris is a tad larger than its predecessor, with a wheelbase extended by 2 inches, while the overall length is nearly 3 inches longer. This, in turn, gives the car over 60 percent more cargo room, along with an overall increase in passenger volume. A lower, longer stance adds to stability, yet the car is still a breeze to whip around traffic and into tight parking spots. One impressive attribute was braking performance, where the car was able to stop from 60 mph in an average of around 115 feet.
One interesting thing we noticed right away was the use of a single large front windshield wiper in place of the two smaller ones found on the previous Yaris. It works great, and means there’s only one blade to replace when it gets worn out. In a world that seems to get more complicated every day, it’s nice when you encounter something on a new vehicle that’s actually simpler than before.
The surprisingly roomy interior of the new Yaris gets considerable upgrades, including additional sound-absorbing materials for a quieter ride. The cloth upholstery has a durable feel, and front seat support is good with the driver’s seat being height-adjustable. The center-mounted instrument cluster of the past is moved to directly in front of the driver for a more conventional look, and standard equipment on our SE included power door locks, remote keyless entry, cruise control and an audio system with an HD radio and Bluetooth radio streaming technology.
The 2012 Toyota Yaris five-door SE is EPA-rated 30 MPG city/35 highway and has a base price of $17,200. With options, our sticker came to $18,189. www.toyota.com.