2012 Toyota Prius C Long-Term Road Test

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2012 Toyota Prius C: Beyond Squishy

May 20, 2013

2012 Toyota Prius C

My brother drives a 2012 Toyota Prius V and loves it except for one thing: the driving experience is "squishy." By that he means the soft suspension and the disconnected feeling of the CVT. My brother says the squishy feeling doesn't bother him because he's getting amazing fuel economy.

I took our Prius C to reacquaint myself with the driving experience of this little hybrid and here's my open email to my brother.

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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: I Can't Log In

April 30, 2013

2012 Toyota Prius C

It's fair to say I've been an eager supporter of Entune in our long-term 2012 Toyota Prius C. I think it offers decent feature content (most notably, on-screen traffic data) for a decent price, well, decent in the realm of factory-installed navigation and electronics interfaces.

But last night Entune let me down. I hadn't driven our Prius C in a while, so the Entune app on my phone had logged me out of my account. I waited until I was topside (that is, not in the depths of our subterranean office garage) and hit the sign-in button. The little pinwheel spun on my phone, but the app was unable to talk to Toyota's network. I tried a couple more times while waiting at a traffic light, but no dice. I had to get on the freeway with no traffic information on the nav system's maps.

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2012 Toyota Prius C: Entune Prefers Android

March 25, 2013

2012 Toyota Prius C

I use Toyota's Entune system every time I get into our long-term Toyota Prius C, because it's the only way to see traffic data on the navigation system's maps. But as we've written, it's kind of a hassle to set up, because my iPhone 4S (and the 4 before it) has to be plugged in and running the Entune app before you can establish the Internet connection.

During my recent trip to Arizona, we used my spouse's Samsung Galaxy S III for Entune purposes, and honestly, it's easier with an Android phone.

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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: Not Future-Proof

January 10, 2013

2012 Toyota Prius C

Can't say I'm surprised that I can't use the Prius C's Entune apps suite with my iPhone 3G. Everything's moved to iOS 4.3 and beyond to iOS6. But it's a small bummer that soft and firmware has moved fast enough to render a four-year-old phone obsolete, in this application anyway. Heck, Apple doesn't even support this phone anymore beyond the 4.2 version of the software, and I've got no interest in jail-breaking it (some say it works, some don't).

It's a small matter of pride that I've kept this phone alive and operable this long, but a new phone is in the near future. I'll retire this one to iPod service for the car and Pandora streaming for home.

Dan Frio, Automotive Editor @ 10,600 miles.

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2012 Toyota Prius C: Despite Entune Hassles, This Nav System Works Well

December 02, 2012

prius-c_nav5.jpg

Although I'm comfortable using my iPhone's Mapquest app for navigation, I really do like having a factory nav system embedded in the dash. It's easier to read; it puts nav, audio and phone functions in one place, and I never have to worry about it going to sleep or the voice instructions not being loud enough.

I used the nav system in our long-term 2012 Toyota Prius C every day last week, several times a day to get directions, and every single day, I went through the process of hooking up my phone via the USB port and booting up the Entune app. As you'll recall, Entune isn't necessary to use the nav system, but you need an active connection to see traffic data.

Yeah, the process is kind of a hassle, but over the course of five days, the system consistently did a competent job rerouting me around traffic based on the info it was getting via my phone's data connection. It didn't present incident/collision information with the specificity of say, Inrix, but it was good at knowing where the traffic was and suggesting appropriate alternate freeway routes and even some detours on surface streets that I wouldn't have thought of otherwise. (You're not seeing traffic data here on this map, because I took the photo in the garage where the phone is incommunicado, and also happened not to have the Apple cable with me.)

It certainly helps that my AT&T iPhone generally has a strong signal throughtout greater L.A.

I also haven't gotten any indication (i.e., threatening texts from AT&T) that letting Entune harness the power of my iPhone is resulting in heavy data usage. Then again, the real test would be for me to use Entune every day for a month, and then see how well I'm doing on data usage.

Any Toyota/Lexus owners out there who are using Entune/Enform on an everyday basis who can speak on this matter?

Finally, note that Entune was included as standard on this Prius C Three model, which at $22,395, is priced pretty affordably for a nav-equipped hybrid. So buying a car equipped exactly like this one is a reasonable proposition.

Erin Riches, Senior Editor @ 10,277 miles

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2012 Toyota Prius C: It's No Turkey

November 22, 2012

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The Prius C is my ride for the Thanksgiving break and it's been a cheerful companion through all the holiday-related errands and runs. In the spirit of the season, I figured I'd make a list celebrating all the things I like most about this pint-sized Prius.

1: Hurray for its nav system interface, which is easy to read and use. The system is also relatively quick. I know we've criticized the nav system's voice control feature for being somewhat slow on the uptake, but to be honest, I have tried it yet -- on a recent trip to unfamiliar Inglewood to sample the wares of a well-reviewed restaurant, it was simple enough for me to input my destination via touchscreen. Haven't felt the need thus far to get any fancier than that.

2: Its compact footprint makes it a breeze to park and maneuver. And despite its petite dimensions, the cabin still feels roomy enough for my frame.

3: And then, of course, there's its gas mileage. With all the recent drama surrounding a certain company that promised one thing on the fuel economy front and delivered something less impressive, you have to appreciate a car whose real-world mileage lives up to manufacturer claims.

Happy Thanksgiving!

Warren Clarke, Automotive Content Editor

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2012 Toyota Prius C: Jumpy iPod Playback

November 01, 2012

Prius C ipod.jpg

When listening to an iPod in our 2012 Toyota Prius C, the playback will, every so often, skip for a full second.

The elapsed time counter resets to zero and 9/10 the song returns to where it left off. The other time, it simply moves onto the next song.

I tried this with five i-devices (two iPhones, iPod, iPod nano touch, iPod mini) and it skipped with every single one of them. None of them have Toyota's silly iPod override Entune system installed and none of them ever will.

Mike Magrath, Features Editor

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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: Heat Hunt

September 24, 2012

toyota_prius_c_cargo.jpg

The Prius C has lots of information for you to consider. Seven different readout choices orbit the multi-information display, from Eco Savings to Past Record to Drive Information. There's also a master "Settings and Display Off" screen. Each drive-performance screen offers various slices and dices of how you're expending energy and saving money (or not) during your drives.

But with all those data sets, what you want to see might not be front and center at every moment. For example: This weekend was another hot one in Southern California. The Prius C does an admirable job of cooling itself off quickly, as we've said before. But cooling itself off from what outside temperature?

I've made the Eco Score screen my default setting because it's the one that helps me eke out the best fuel economy. But that's not where Toyota put the outside temperature display.

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2012 Toyota Prius C: I'm Entune Again

September 18, 2012

If you read our long-term intro for the 2012 Toyota Prius C, you know that just like our long-term Camry SE, it has Toyota's Entune interface for smartphones. Over the months we've owned our Camry, several editors have commented that the setup process requires too many steps and that the apps themselves add minimal functionality.

I can't say I disagree strongly with either sentiment, but the reality is if you want traffic data to show up on our Three model's standard navigation system's maps, you have to set up Entune. I wouldn't suggest that this traffic data is as accurate as that provided by the Inrix app on my phone, but there's still something to be said for having it on a larger screen embedded in the dash.

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2012 Toyota Prius C: Yeah, What Do You Want?

September 10, 2012

Upon start-up, the Prius C recently started showing this "Maintenance Required Soon" reminder message. Checking the maintenance guide book that came with the car, I see that it's essentially calling for the first (5,000 miles) service.

Because we opted to do the first oil change/tire rotation early (at 1,800 miles) and the Prius C's maintenance intervals occur every 5,000 miles, its "first" 5,000 mile service is therefore due at 6,800 miles. The latter consists of just a tire rotation and the visual inspections of fluid levels and brake pads/shoes.

Given how alarmingly few people actually look at their vehicle's owner's manuals, I'm all for these reminders.

John DiPietro, Automotive Editor @ 6,489 miles

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2012 Toyota Prius C: Vexing Voice Command

August 29, 2012

Toyota's Nav systems are usually user friendly -- large graphics, logical controls, reliable voice recognition. But I discovered the Prius C's "One Shot" voice command feature can be an exercise in frustration. It took no less than four attempts to give it my destination.

The reason? No, not because of my Boston accent (other Toyota/Lexus/Ford/Acura/etc systems don't seem to mind it). My guess is that it asks for and has to process too much speech input at once -- you say "Destination" and then the whole address (including state) rather than having separate prompts/inputs for street number/street/city/state. "One Shot" would seem convenient and maybe it works great for some folks. But despite my subsequent robotic enunciation (which included pronouncing my "R'"s clearly), it still took four attempts before it got it.

Another pet peeve is the screen catches a lot of glare, as you can see here. It needs to either have a hood or an adjustable tilt function.

John DiPietro, Automotive Editor

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2012 Toyota Prius C: Great Bluetooth

August 27, 2012

I wish the Bluetooth in all cars worked as well as it does in our long-term Toyota Prius C. Pairing my phone to the Toyota is quick and simple and the sound quality is wonderful, maybe even better than the sound quality in Bentley Mulsanne I also drove last week.

Scott Oldham, Editor in Chief

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2012 Toyota Prius C: T.M.I.

August 22, 2012

Is it just me or does this information screen look like it's trying to do too much? It's like they took two screens worth of icons and crammed them onto one.

I know the Prius folks love stuff like "ECO Scores" and all that, but really, this seems like overkill. Just push the gas pedal less and you'll get good mileage. I don't need a fancy computer display to tell me that.

Ed Hellwig, Editor, Inside Line @ 4,878 miles

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2012 Toyota Prius C: Counting My Time

July 19, 2012

toyota_prius_c_miles.jpg

We spend a lot of time in traffic in Los Angeles. I live 19-20 miles from the office, depending on which route I take.

My fellow employees and I get creative with the times we choose to drive to and from work. In the morning it usually takes me 45-60 minutes if I wait for the morning rush to end. If I have to be in for an early meeting, it's at least 90 minutes. I don't even think about using the freeway in the morning. It's the scenic route all the way.

Really late at night, I can hop on the freeway and be home in 20 minutes, which makes me realize how dysfunctional this city is. The past two nights, it took me 90 minutes to get home. Normally, the summer traffic lightens up, but I haven't noticed a difference this year.

The Prius C counts my trip time. It's very disheartening to see a record of how long it takes to get around town. But it is nice to see how little the fuel gauge moves. This morning, as seen in the picture above, was not so bad, but take note of the time.

Sometimes, I question why I live here. Then something like this happens:

Donna DeRosa, Managing Editor @ 4,116 miles

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Edmunds Insurance Estimator

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

$131 per month*
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