Style upgrade, top-end fuel mileage lift new Toyota Yaris

The Toyota Yaris subcompact gets more than 30 miles to the gallon in highway and city drivng (Photo provided).

By LARRY CORNWELL

Special to The Post and Courier

Toyota has finally updated the design of the once Hamster-shaped Yaris. To be truthful, the new Toyota Yaris is a neat looking economy model. My week long test of the Yaris proved to me that I could live with a bargain basement model like this. Yes, you did read that correctly: Mr. High performance could live with an economy model.

Once more, I could do more than just “live” with a model like the Ford Fiesta or Toyota Yaris, I would actually enjoy owning one.

The Toyota Yaris four door that I tested was efficient, versatile and was a lot of fun to drive. During my test, I pushed the tiny 1.5-liter four-banger hard, yet it still produced excellent fuel economy.

Toyota lists the Yaris’ highway miles per gallon fuel economy at 38 mpg. The Yaris achieved a city-highway combined average of 38 mpg all the while under my heavy right foot.

Key competitors include the Chevrolet Sonic hatchback, Ford Fiesta hatchback, Honda Fit and the Hyundai Accent five-door. I can’t tell you how well or poorly the Hyundai would fare against the impressive Toyota Yaris because I have not been invited to test one of their vehicles in a very long time now.

Yes I am venting. I am venting because I was one of Hyundai’s earliest supporters 10 years ago. Now that the company is flying high, I guess they no longer need my support.

This is a very tough group to choose a favorite among because they are so close in performance. My personal favorite is the Ford Fiesta followed by the Honda Fit and then the Toyota Yaris. In reality, these models are so comparable that ‘ practically a three way tie.

In the end, the choice, your choice, will come down to which model suits you best, more than which model is the ”best

Look for my review of the 2012 Buick Lacrosse next.

Larry Cornwell is an automotive journalist based in the Charlotte area.

2012 TOYOTA YARIS

TYPE: Small economy

PRICE RANGE: $15,000-$18,000

ENGINE: 1.5-liter four-cylinder producing 106 horsepower and 106 pounds-feet of torque

DRIVETRAIN: Five-speed manual

FUEL ECONOMY: 30 mpg city, 38 mpg highway (38 city/highway average)

COMPETITOR MODELS: Chevrolet Sonic Hatchback, Ford Fiesta Hatchback, Hyundai Accent five-door and Honda Fit

WEBSITE: http://www.toyota.com/yaris/