As a gauge of how much has changed in the car market in just the space of two or three years, consider the following: Toyota - Toyota! - is playing catch-up.
To the Hyundai-Kia combine, as well as (yep) Ford and even (gasp!) GM. They all build good small cars now - arguably, among the best small cars you can buy.
Which is why Toyota's small cars urgently needed a makeover. The Yaris is the first to get it - and it makes a world of difference. Because the Yaris is back in the game, at least. Last year, it wasn't even in the bleachers.
WHAT IT IS
The Yaris is Toyota's entry-level compact economy car. It comes in two-door or four-door hatchback bodystyles, with prices starting at $14,115 for the base L three-door and topping out at $16,400 for an SE sedan. A hybrid version will be arriving in a few months, too.
The Yaris battles for the same customers shopping the Hyundai Accent (and its sportier cousin, the Kia Rio), Ford's Fiesta (and its slightly smaller cousin, the Mazda2) among the segment standouts.
WHAT'S NEW FOR 2012
The Yaris gets a major makeover for 2012.
Light-years better than before. No more lemon-sucking face. No more cyclops instrument cluster. Coupe or sedan bodystyles - both with hatchbacks.