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2012 Toyota Yaris three-door LE (photos)

The mild-mannered Toyota Yaris is back for 2012 with a new look and a spacious cabin.

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Antuan Goodwin
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1 of 18 Josh Miller/CNET

2012 Toyota Yaris LE

The 2012 Toyota Yaris features a new aesthetic that is less anonymous than that of the previous generation. There are hints of Prius, Matrix, and Camry to be found in its new fascia, and I rather like it.

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It's a car!

The automaker's promotional materials proudly proclaim that the Yaris "is a car!" Yep, you hit the nail right on the head there, Toyota.

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1.5-liter engine

The 106-horsepower four-cylinder engine may not wow you with its performance, but it certainly doesn't disappoint, either. Less can be more.

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Four-speed automatic gearbox

The four-speed automatic gearbox probably costs the Yaris dearly when the time comes tally the miles traveled per gallon of fuel.

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Small footprint

A small footprint, particularly like our three-door tester's, is beneficial in a city car.

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Excellent visibility

With lots of glass all around, the Yaris offers excellent 360-degree visibility, making it easy to park and maneuver.

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Junk in the trunk

Part of the Yaris' allure is that the small vehicle offers a great deal of interior space.

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Rear hatch

The rear hatch offers enough space for a few carry-on bags or a load of groceries.

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Fold-flat seats

Folding the rear seats flat opens up a ton of space for cargo.

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Spare tire

Beneath a false floor, you'll find a space-saver spare tire--and what seems like a ton of wasted storage space.

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Single front wiper

A single massive wiper handles rain-clearing duties for the front windshield.

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Simple cockpit

The Yaris' cabin is simple and nearly devoid of potential distractions.

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Audio controls

Audio controls can be found on the steering wheel.

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Basic instrumentation

The instrumentation is basic, just a speedometer and a fuel meter. Stepping up to the SE trim level nets you a tachometer to fill the empty third gauge.

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Six-speaker audio system

Bluetooth audio streaming is present and accounted for, but a weird AVRCP glitch prevents it from really being useful.

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Digital audio sources

HD Radio, USB/iPod connectivity, and an analog audio connection round out the Yaris' audio sources.

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Oddly placed connections

Toyota placed the Yaris' digital audio connections in the glove compartment, rather than at the base of the center stack where they'd be useful.

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Plays well with smartphones

If you're a fan of Google's Voice Search or Apple's Siri, you'll love the Yaris' hands-free system because it hands off voice control to your smartphone.

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