2012 Toyota Yaris LE

It's a car!

1.5-liter engine

Four-speed automatic gearbox

Small footprint

Excellent visibility

Junk in the trunk

Rear hatch

Fold-flat seats

Spare tire

Single front wiper

Simple cockpit

Audio controls

Basic instrumentation

Six-speaker audio system

Digital audio sources

Oddly placed connections

Plays well with smartphones

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Audio controls can be found on the steering wheel.

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

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

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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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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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Caption by / Photo by Josh Miller/CNET
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