2012 Toyota Prius C Long-Term Road Test

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2012 Toyota Prius C: Welcomes You Back

May 3, 2013

2012 Toyota Prius C

A lot of cars nowadays seem to incorporate technology that allows them to "recognize" their drivers. Examples include Jaguar's ignition button pulsing with a heartbeat cadence, or Cadillac's CUE system initiating the moment your posterior hits the leather.

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2012 Toyota Prius C: Are These Buttons Waterproof?

April 29, 2013

2012 Toyota Prius C

Call me crazy, odd or both, but I like the satellite steering wheel buttons in the Prius C. They are some of the strangest buttons I've seen in a while, whether the car was cheap or expensive.

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2012 Toyota Prius C: Simple Ventilation Controls

April 24, 2013

2012 Toyota Prius C

This, friends, is a simple HVAC setup. It's essentially one knob, one mode button and one fan button. Yes, there's an "off" button and an "auto" button as well, but it's a fairly Spartan arrangement.

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2012 Toyota Prius C: Will Gigantor Fit?

April 23, 2013

2012 Toyota Prius C

This guy, believe it or not, is a Toyota Prius owner. He's six-and-a-half-feet tall and his 2008 Prius required the use of seat rail extenders to provide adequate leg room. So, naturally, when he saw me driving the smaller Prius C he wondered how he would fit.

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2012 Toyota Prius C: Where's The Speedometer?

April 18, 2013

2012 Toyota Prius C

Just tell me one thing: Why are there no gauges here?

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2012 Toyota Prius C: Can't Complain About the Simplicity

April 18, 2013

2012 Toyota Prius C

If there's one thing that makes the Toyota Prius C enjoyable to drive, it's the simplicity of its interior. Much of that is due to the fact that it's an inexpensive car designed to go as far as possible on a gallon of gas. There isn't room for anything extra.

That doesn't mean the Prius C shouldn't get points for a thoughtful design. I mean, the temperature dial is a little bigger than it needs to be, but everything else is about as simple and easy to use as possible.

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2012 Toyota Prius C: Instrument Panel Glare

April 15, 2013

2012 Toyota Prius C

Here's a game I like to play in the Toyota Prius C when the sun comes through its side windows at a low angle as is common on my evening commute. It's called: "How fast am I going?" Bonus points to anyone who figures it out. Also, should you figure it out, you'll see my colleagues' rich sense of humor at work.

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2012 Toyota Prius C: Accommodates When It Can

April 5, 2013

2012 Toyota Prius C

Our Prius C is far from luxurious. In fact, it's one of the most bare bones cars we've had in the fleet for some time. Toyota didn't cheap out, though, it simply eliminated any wastefully heavy options. It's what makes this Prius deliver the incredible mileage it does.

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2012 Toyota Prius C: And Then I Went to San Diego

March 26, 2013

2012 Toyota Prius C

Days after I returned from Arizona spring training, our long-term 2012 Toyota Prius C and I hit the road again for San Diego. It's a much shorter drive, but would our hybrid hatchback wear out its welcome after two road trips in a week?

Not really.

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2012 Toyota Prius C: Why Is the Wheel an Oval?

March 6, 2013

2012 Toyota Prius C

Why is the Prius C wheel an oval? Is there something about hybrid and/or environmentally friendly driving that decrees a circle is inappropriate?

On a possibly related note, you may notice the bottom is nearly flat. Now, I would seriously doubt it's flat for the same reason a Volkswagen GTI's is flat. I'm guessing it's because Toyota identified that its customers are apt to put a single hand in that gap and drive at 6 o'clock. And why not, that's how all the pros do it, right?

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2012 Toyota Prius C: Why Is It Not Beeping?

March 1, 2013

2012 Toyota Prius C

As I was backing up our Toyota Prius C into my garage parking space, I noticed that something didn't seem quite right.

"Wait, why isn't it beeping?"

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2012 Toyota Prius C: How Much Should We Rely on Our Smartphones?

February 26, 2013

2012 Toyota Prius C

I've been commuting to work in our 2012 Toyota Prius C for about a week. As I've written here, it drives fine for a budget hatchback. The acceleration is OK, the ride quality is good enough, and the seats are comfy. I'm probably doing well at the mpg game, too, though I wouldn't know, because I'm living the hybrid car dream: I haven't had to refuel yet despite driving 30 miles each way.

With that said I'm realizing that a big part of the Prius C's appeal for me is the high level of connectivity in the cabin. I've never driven a car this cheap (well, with an as-tested MSRP of $23,470, it's not exactly cheap, but you get the idea) that had this much tech in the cabin.

Yet, if it weren't for my smartphone and its data contract, I wouldn't be nearly so entertained, er, infotained.

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2012 Toyota Prius C: Surprisingly Good Seats

February 25, 2013

2012 Toyota Prius C

So here's a look at the driver seat in our long-term 2012 Toyota Prius C.

As you'd expect, it has full manual adjustments, including a simple seat-height lever that moves the seat-bottom cushion forward as you crank up the height. The steering wheel tilts and telescopes, but as in the bigger Prius models, not very much. I'd bring it closer to me if I could, but I can't, so the whole driver seat has to come forward instead.

These are typical compromises in a subcompact car, but the surprise is that comfort is still quite good for a 5-foot-10-inch, 150-pound adult. Seriously, I could commute for hours in this thing without feeling kinked up, which is exactly what you'd hope for in Southern California traffic.

I also like the Prius C's backseat, but not because it's especially roomy.

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2012 Toyota Prius C: Prius Brand Is Easy to Explain

February 21, 2013

2012 Toyota Prius C

"What car is that?"

"Oh, that's the small Prius."

That's what I heard myself saying when I pulled up in our 2012 Toyota Prius C at a non-car person's house. It just seemed more natural to explain it that way rather than go into an extended explanation about how it uses a modified version of the B-segment Yaris platform architecture but has a hybrid drivetrain. She instantly knew what I meant: It's a little green car that gets great mpg and comes in a cuter color (with "cuter" open to interpretation).

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2012 Toyota Prius C: Are The Gauges Annoying?

February 19, 2013

2012 Toyota Prius C

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.

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2012 Toyota Prius C: The Sunroof Switches

October 29, 2012

Prius C sunroof switch.jpg

Here are the sunroof buttons from our 2012 Toyota Prius C. Not there are buttons, plural, to operate one device that we paid $850 for. The buttons are also not smart enough to work together/cancel each other out.

For example, if I've tilted the sunroof but then decide to open it all the way, I can't simply hit "slide" and let the electrons figure out how to not kerplode the sunroof. Nope. Gotta "down" the tilt and then "slide." Lame, even for a cheap car.

Mike Magrath, Features Editor

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2012 Toyota Prius C: Give Me a High Hat

October 26, 2012

toyotapriuscsteeringwheel.jpg

You ever sit in traffic and your favorite song comes on and you just start drumming to the beat on your steering wheel? Well, I'll have you know that our 2012 Toyota Prius C's steering wheel comes with a pretty decent substitute for a cymbal: that silver plastic trim on either side of the airbag. When you hit it with your nails it adds a nice sharp sound to contrast the dull thumps of the rest of the steering wheel.

I do a mean steering wheel backup to Led Zeppelin's "Rock and Roll."

Caroline Pardilla, Deputy Managing Editor

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2012 Toyota Prius C: Ice Cold AC

October 25, 2012

Prius C AC.jpg

Good news, the air conditioning in our 2012 Toyota Prius is ice cold and immediate. Even after being parked in the sun for a few hours, it chills the cabin with shocking quickness.

It's the only thing about this car that's overpowered.

Mike Magrath, Features Editor @ 8,255 miles

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2012 Toyota Prius C: You Can't Miss It

October 17, 2012

toyotapriuscclimate.jpg

That's gotta be the biggest temperature knob ever. Wonder why Toyota decided to dedicate that much real estate to the 2012 Toyota Prius C's temp knob. Is that something consumers usually have a hard time spotting? Otherwise, I like how everything is laid out plain as day. No guesswork involved.

Caroline Pardilla, Deputy Managing Editor

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2012 Toyota Prius C: Pre-Slashed Dash?

October 2, 2012

I don't get it. No, it's more than that: I hate it. What's with the weird random grooves that are carved into the dash panel of the 2012 Toyota Prius C?

Maybe it's because I grew up in an era when dashboard plastic was evolving, a period when baking heat through the windshield caused dashboard tops to erupt and curl like a cracked mud in a dry creek bed. The situation was so common that it gave birth to company called Dashcover that made custom-fit carpets that hid the ugly mess.

This is an ugly mess. Next idea, please.

Dan Edmunds, Director of Vehicle Testing @ 7,342 miles

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2012 Toyota Prius C: Environmentally Aware

August 28, 2012

toyota_prius_c_cargo.jpg

A green car like our Prius C just feels a whole lot greener with a sunroof.

It's an $850 option, but it's worth it if you enjoy looking at tall trees and clear skies on pleasant summer days.

Warren Clarke, Automotive Content Editor

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2012 Toyota Prius C: Good A/C

July 17, 2012

toyota_prius_c_ac_1.jpg

In this weather, I am happy to say our Toyota Prius C has a pleasantly effective air conditioner. It cools the cabin quickly and has well-positioned air vents. I like when cars have the round vents straddling each side of the dash. They are so easy to use and look attractive.

The long, narrow vents above the entertainment screen work very well without taking up much space. I don't like when cars have the vents on the sides of the nav screen. They usually end up blowing cold air on my hand. We've had several long-term Hyundais and Kias that had this awkward design.

So, I give high marks to the design of the climate system in the Prius C.

Donna DeRosa, Managing Editor @ 4,038 miles

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2012 Toyota Prius C: I Hope This Comes Out

July 11, 2012

prius_fab1.jpg

OK, who's the joker that put his office bag on the front passenger seat, only to find that said bag had a leaky bottle of tea in it? Well, that would be me, the same guy who spilled fizzy tea all over our Genesis' multimedia controller back in 2009. Clearly, drinks, cars, light upholstery and me don't mix.

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2012 Toyota Prius C: SparklerMobile

July 05, 2012

firecracker3.jpg

You couldn't with a straight face call the Prius C a firecracker, bottle rocket or any other allusion to explosive power. But it's perfectly capable of hauling safe and sane Independence Day party favors.

Carroll Lachnit, Features Editor @3,215 miles

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2012 Toyota Prius C: Disjointed Dash Design

June 15, 2012

prius c dash.jpg

As anyone who knows my interest in cars will attest, I like clean, cohesive design. The jarring Bangle approach gave me nightmares. And this also applies to the interior. Clean is good, discordant is bad. Don't get me wrong, the Prius C's exterior design is fine and it works well as a space and fuel efficient runabout, albeit one with an unexpectedly stiff ride.

But that dash! Yuck. It almost seems like the Toyota guys "benchmarked" the Honda Insight's dash panel, what with all the dissimilar shapes and textures jumbled together.

John DiPietro, Automotive Editor @ 1,440 miles

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2012 Toyota Prius C: You Have Chosen...Wisely

June 14, 2012

GrailKinghtPriusC.jpg

A few months ago, I wrote-up a full road test on the Prius C. You read the epic tome here (seriously, where's my Pulitzer?). Of the things that bugged me, two of them were options. That test vehicle was a Prius C Four (huh huh...C4...boom) and had the 16-inch alloy wheels. Normally, I'm all for fully-loaded cars, but not in this case.

The Prius C Four trim adds something called SofTex-trimmed seats. The material was just plain odd. It felt like plastic. No wait, that's not fair to plastic. It felt like the coverings they have on a doctor's examining table, or maybe the upholstery in a dentist's chair – neither of which I'm particularly fond of.

Then there were those 16-inch alloys. I like bigger wheels, as long as they don't affect the ride quality or handling. The Prius' big wheels did neither, but they did impact the turning radius. Dan Edmunds explained to me the reasons why and how the optional wheels impacted the suspension geometry and thus, the turning circle, but my mind wandered off to motorcycles and bacon. Reasonings aside, the bigger wheels increase the turnabout width by six feet.

SIX FEET! (huh huh...six feet over)

That's insane for any car, let alone a little city hybrid. City cars should be able to perform a U-turn in my shower. But no, the test car required a three-point turn in front of CasaHashi. Un-Ack-Sep-Taw-Bull.

So that leads us back to our long-termer. Like the Grail Knight so eloquently put it in the Last Crusade, "You have chosen…wisely." So if you're looking at a Prius C, do what we did. That is all.

Mark Takahashi, Automotive Editor @ 1,430 miles

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2012 Toyota Prius C: Will the Shower Fit?

June 06, 2012

Prius balloons.jpg

We had a car-themed bridal shower for IL Senior Editor Erin Riches today, and in the spirit of using every object in the office as the subject of a fitment test, Edmunds Senior Editor Bryn MacKinnon and I crammed the leftover party balloons into the hatch of our Prius C to see how many would fit.

After one popped, scaring the bejesus out us, it turned out to be an even dozen.

Carroll Lachnit, Features Editor, @ ~1,115 miles

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2012 Toyota Prius C: Cargo Area

May 29, 2012

toyota_prius_c_cargo.jpg

I went to pick up a few things at the market this weekend but as usual came out with many more bags than I intended. I was pleasantly surprised to see the Prius C could handle my cargo without having to lower the rear seats.

With all seats in place the Prius C offers 17.1 cubic feet of cargo space. When you pop the hatch, the protective cover pulls up to allow easy access. With the hatch closed, it lowers to shield packages from the sun and prying eyes.

By comparison the regular Prius and the Plug-In Prius offer 21.6 cu.ft. while the Prius V offers 34.3 cu.ft. The Camry Hybrid only offers 15.4 cu.ft. with the rear seats up.

Does the Prius C number surprise you?

Donna DeRosa, Managing Editor @ 1,011 miles

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2012 Toyota Prius C: Interior Tour

May 28, 2012

Have a look at the interior of our new Toyota Prius C hybrid:

Donna DeRosa, Managing Editor

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2012 Toyota Prius C: Normal Shifter

May 23, 2012

toyota_prius_c_shifter.jpg

Look, the 2012 Prius C has a normal-looking shifter, unlike the dash-mounted thingamabob Prii used to have.

Donna DeRosa, Managing Editor @ 905 miles

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The Edmunds TCO® estimated monthly insurance payment for a 2012 Toyota Prius c in VA is:

$131 per month*
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