Toyota: '12 Yaris to offer highest-mpg model in brand's lineup

Toyota says that a Japanese-market version of its Yaris will offer the highest fuel economy of any model in its lineup.

Toyota said today that the Japanese-specification version of its Toyota Yaris - known as the Toyota Vitz - will offer an ultra high efficient 1.3-liter engine mated to start-stop technology that will offer the brand's highest fuel economy of any model. Besting even its Toyota Prius dedicated hybrid, the Vitz will be capable of around 62 mpg.

Based on these latest shots, it appears to be both longer and wider than the current Yaris. Expect the Yaris to continue as a sedan and hatch, but we've also heard rumors that a seven-passenger (!) MPV could be in the works.

Inside, look for a more conventional interior with gauges mounted directly in front of the driver rather than in a central pod. We expect that North American models will receive more features than before in an effort to better compete with more modern rivals.

For North America, Yaris' 1.5-liter four-cylinder could carry over, although a larger 1.8-liter unit remains a distinct possibility. Toyota is reportedly working on hybrid and electric version of the next Yaris, although it will likely be a few years before we see those models. Don't look for the 1.3-liter start-stop version to make it to North America, although that model remains a distinct possibility for Europe. It would likely be too costly and not offer enough power to satisfy North American consumers.

Toyota says it will formally unveil the next-generation Vitz on December 22 and it's expected that the North American and European market versions will debut shortly thereafter at major international auto shows.

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