2012 Toyota Prius C: Are The Gauges Annoying?
February 19, 2013
So our long-term 2012 Toyota Prius C has center-mounted gauges. No serious car guy would choose to have the instrumentation mounted in the center. But the actual, on-the-fly legibility of the setup in the Prius C isn't bad. And certainly, it could be a whole lot worse.
Toyota's decision to go all digital with the instrumentation has actually improved the functionality, compared to the center-mounted analog gauge packs offered in earlier Toyotas and Scions. The Prius C's digital speedometer is closer to being in the driver's direct line of sight. The way I sit in this car, the speedo ends up just over the right side of the steering wheel, so I never really need to turn to look to the middle of the car. (That is, unless I'm inclined to check in on my Eco Score or my average mpg. I rarely allow myself to get caught up in that game.)
That's quite an improvement over the arrangement in, say, the discontinued Scion xA, which had an analog speedometer and tachometer squooshed in the center of the dash.
I don't remember a lot about the xA, but I do remember that I could barely read the gauges. I also recall that the automatic-equipped car I drove didn't gather speed with much haste anyway.
Designing gauges for the Prius C (well, any Prius really) must have been an easier task, of course, since there's no pressing need for a tachometer, given that the planetary-type continuously variable transmission (CVT) handles the "shifting" and operates the gas engine and electric motor at different rpm.
I'm torn on the acceptability of center-mounted gauges. No one will ever persuade me that there's any kind of ergonomic, line-of-sight advantage to them. Nah, it's all about cost-savings. In the right-hand-drive version of this car, they just reconfigure this display so that the digital speedo readout is on the other side.
But reducing cost in small ways only makes sense when you're trying to price your hybrid subcompact in line with non-hybrid hatchbacks, which is exactly what Toyota is doing with the Prius C. And while I don't love having a digital speedometer offset to the right, I don't hate it, either, and it doesn't annoy me when I drive our Prius C.
How do you feel about the instrumentation in our junior Prius...yay, nay or meh?
Erin Riches, Senior Editor @ 11,177 miles