CULVER CITY, Calif.--With the 2012 Yaris, Toyota is promoting an image as much as a car. The automaker is gearing up to target the four-cylinder at entry-level buyers as likely to spend their money on video games and MP3s as they are a new set of wheels. ("Yaris! It's a car!" reads a cutesy little ad campaign with bright, cheery letters).
The youth-centric campaign is primarily marketing hype, as the Yaris is no more or less appealing to someone in a Captain America T-shirt in San Francisco as it is to a middle-class family in Milwaukee. An inexpensive car that saves you money on gas can sell itself in this repressed economy if it's put together correctly. And the Yaris is a fun, unassuming ride that falls a little short of adjectives like zippy or thrilling. It doesn't feel as cool as a Fiat 500, as powerful as a Volkswagen Golf, or as substantial as a Ford Fiesta, but for $14,115 to $17,200 (depending on the setup) it's close enough for young drivers entering the market. … Read more