2012 Toyota Prius Hatchback Review | Edmunds.com

2012 Toyota Prius Hatchback

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Toyota Prius Features and Specs

Features & Specs

  • Engine 1.8 L Inline 4-cylinder
  • Drivetrain Front Wheel Drive
  • Transmission CVT Automatic
  • Horse Power 134 hp @ 5200 rpm
  • Fuel Economy 51/48 mpg
  • Bluetooth Yes
  • Navigation No
  • Heated Seats No

Review of the 2012 Toyota Prius

  • With a bevy of new high-tech features for 2012, the Toyota Prius enhances its appeal and status as the quintessential hybrid.

  • Safety
  • Pros

    Superior fuel economy; abundant backseat room; spacious cargo area; comfortable ride; available high-tech luxury goodies; strong safety scores.

  • Cons

    Awkward driving position; disappointing interior materials; excessive road noise; overly busy gauge cluster.

  • What's New for 2012

    The 2012 Toyota Prius gets slightly different styling cues along with additional standard infotainment features and the availability of power front seats and Toyota's Entune suite of smartphone and Internet integration features. A new Plus Performance accessory package lends the Prius sharper handling and a sportier, more aerodynamic exterior.

Full 2012 Toyota Prius Review

What's New for 2012

The 2012 Toyota Prius gets slightly different styling cues along with additional standard infotainment features and the availability of power front seats and Toyota's Entune suite of smartphone and Internet integration features. A new Plus Performance accessory package lends the Prius sharper handling and a sportier, more aerodynamic exterior.

Introduction

The 2012 Toyota Prius is to hybrids what Kleenex is to tissues. Other brands may offer something similar, but the Prius is what people think of when they think hybrid. But is this perception still warranted now that more competitors seem to pop up every year?

To keep things fresh for 2012, the current, third-generation Prius receives its first minor refresh. The subtle styling tweaks are barely discernible, while its other updates are more substantial. Even the base model Prius Two (the Prius One is for fleet sales only) now comes with Bluetooth phone and audio connectivity, dedicated iPod control and a touchscreen electronics interface. All trims but the Two get Toyota's new Entune system, which bundles satellite radio-sourced real-time information with a suite of apps that connect the Prius to the Internet via your smartphone. It's now possible to wirelessly stream Pandora or iHeart Radio through the car's sound system.

Beyond this increase of electronic toys, the 2012 Toyota Prius maintains the practical advantages that have made it so successful. With an EPA combined rating of 50 mpg, the Prius is topped only by the new Prius C subcompact, or more expensive plug-in models like the 2012 Chevrolet Volt and upcoming plug-in Prius. The Prius also stands out from the crowd because of the generous dimensions of its backseat and the versatility of the hatchback-style cargo area. In fact, the Prius is so practical that it's used as a taxi in many cities.

There are downsides, however. Interior quality leaves much to be desired, with more hard, unpleasantly grained plastics than other brands offer. While the Prius is easy and intuitive to drive, there's zero enjoyment behind the wheel. Other hybrids (including the new Prius C) are better in this regard, while the more composed ride quality and quieter cabins of the 2012 Ford Fusion Hybrid and 2012 Toyota Camry Hybrid represent a much greater degree of refinement.

Another aspect to consider is price. Regular compact cars (either gasoline- or diesel-powered) get excellent fuel economy nowadays while costing much less, meaning the Prius might not produce the savings in fuel costs that you think it will. Still, the 2012 Toyota Prius continues to warrant its position as the quintessential hybrid. Its blend of fuel efficiency, practicality and now technology make it an easy choice among hybrids.

Body Styles, Trim Levels, and Options

The 2012 Toyota Prius is a four-door hatchback available in four trim levels: Two, Three, Four and Five. The latter is not to be confused with the Prius V, which is a larger wagon version of the Prius that's addressed in a separate review.

Standard equipment on the Prius Two includes 15-inch alloy wheels, heated power mirrors, a rear window wiper, keyless ignition/entry, cruise control, automatic climate control, a tilt-and-telescoping steering wheel, a height-adjustable driver seat, a 60/40-split-folding rear seat, an advanced trip computer, Bluetooth phone and audio connectivity, a touchscreen electronics interface and a six-speaker sound system with a CD player, an auxiliary audio jack and an iPod/USB audio interface.

The Prius Three gains an enhanced keyless entry system, a rearview camera, a navigation system, voice controls, satellite radio, HD radio and Toyota's Entune system, which includes real-time information (traffic, weather, fuel prices, sports scores) and a suite of apps that connect the car to Internet sites like Pandora, iHeart Radio and Open Table through your smartphone. The Solar Roof package adds a sunroof and a solar-powered ventilation system that keeps the car cool to limit the burden on the air-conditioning system.

The Prius Four has automatic headlights, an eight-way power driver seat, heated front seats, SofTex synthetic leather upholstery, an auto-dimming rearview mirror, and a JBL sound system with eight GreenEdge speakers. The Deluxe Solar Roof package adds everything from the Prius Three version plus a head-up display, Safety Connect emergency communications and an upgraded navigation system with a high-definition display and split-screen capability.

The Prius Five gets 17-inch alloy wheels, foglamps and LED headlamps with auto level control and washers. The Advanced Technology package adds adaptive cruise control, a pre-collision alert system, a lane-departure warning system, Safety Connect, a head-up display and the higher-quality navigation display.

Available on all trims, the Plus Appearance package adds unique 17-inch alloy wheels and a seven-piece aerodynamic body kit. To this the Plus Performance package adds a sport-tuned suspension and unique badging.

Powertrains and Performance

The 2012 Toyota Prius is powered by a 1.8-liter four-cylinder engine combined with a pair of electric motor/generators. Together they send a total output of 134 horsepower through a specialized continuously variable transmission (CVT).

In track testing, we clocked the Prius from zero to 60 mph in 10.1 seconds, which is about average for a hybrid vehicle. The EPA estimates the 2012 Prius will return a very impressive 51 mpg city/48 highway and 50 mpg combined. In real-world testing, we found these estimates to be reasonably accurate.

Safety

Every 2012 Toyota Prius comes standard with antilock disc brakes, stability and traction control, front side airbags, side curtain airbags and a driver knee airbag. The Prius Four and Five can be equipped with Toyota's Safety Connect emergency communications system. The Prius Five includes a pre-collision warning system and a lane-departure warning system.

In Edmunds brake testing, the Prius came to a stop from 60 in 118 feet — very good for a compact or midsize car.

In government crash tests, the Prius received a perfect five stars for overall protection, four stars for overall frontal protection and five stars for overall side protection. The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety gave the Prius the highest possible rating of "Good" in its frontal-offset, side and roof strength tests.

Interior Design and Special Features

The 2012 Prius features straightforward controls that jut out toward the driver in a "floating console" that provides a storage tray underneath. It's a nice design that helps maximize cabin space. The now-standard touchscreen operates an increased number of high-tech features for 2012 and for the most part is smartly designed. The digital instrument panel also features a floating layer that displays audio, temperature and trip computer information when the driver touches those controls on the steering wheel, minimizing eye movement. Some drivers might find the overall design a bit too busy-looking, however.

Materials quality in the Prius is disappointing, with harder and cheaper plastics than other cars in its price range. The corduroy-like texturing on the climate and audio controls seems nice at first, but collects oil from the skin and causes circular dark spots on most buttons.

In terms of versatility, though, the Prius is still a champ. The hatchback body style provides more cargo capacity than a typical midsize sedan, and the backseat offers plenty of space. Sadly, taller drivers still have to contend with a steering wheel that's placed too far away. There's a telescoping column, but it doesn't come out nearly far enough. On the upside, the Prius finally offers power front seats.

Driving Impressions

Acceleration in the 2012 Toyota Prius is far from sprightly, but it's on par for similarly priced hybrids and certainly adequate. Four driving modes -- Normal, Eco, Power and EV -- allow the pilot to decide the optimum powertrain configuration depending on conditions. Eco is measured and sluggish, but returns the best fuel economy. Power is useful for entering freeways or driving on hills. EV mode locks out the gasoline engine, but only up to 25 mph with at least a half-charged battery pack.

Around town, the Prius is an easy-to-drive runabout. The electric steering doesn't provide much feedback, but it's very light in parking lots and doesn't become overly boosted on the highway. The ride is comfortable, but nastier bumps can leave it a bit flummoxed. There is also an excessive amount of road noise that permeates the cabin regardless of speed, and the noises emitted by its smaller gasoline engine are hardly what we'd describe as serene.

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What Others Are Saying

Customer Reviews



Carefree car ownership

by on
Vehicle: 2012 Toyota Prius Two 4dr Hatchback (1.8L 4cyl gas/electric hybrid CVT)

Traded my Jeep Wrangler for this Prius about 18 months ago...it is unbelievable how practical, reliable, and inexpensive this car is. Outstanding gas mileage, almost no maintenance, and much more space then one would think.




Needs a little design rework

by on
Vehicle: 2012 Toyota Prius One 4dr Hatchback (1.8L 4cyl gas/electric hybrid CVT)

It's not a bad little car, we call it our "road rat", I use it as a commuter car mainly on the highway. I've expressed concerns with the steering wheel not being straight while going down a straight road, about it pulling and having to hold pressure on the steering wheel to keep it going straight, Toyota says the car is fine. I don't agree, I don't want to exercise the entire time I'm in the car driving. It wears out the edge of the left tire, it took a while, but both front and rear exhibit the same problem, due to tire rotations. New tires and alignment indicate the rear Toe is out of spec, but it's not adjustable. The engine is noisy when your trying to speed up, it roars, so strange.




Piece of junk, insulting manufacturer/dealerships

by on
Vehicle: 2012 Toyota Prius Three 4dr Hatchback (1.8L 4cyl gas/electric hybrid CVT)

, I completely agree. I have been taking the car back to dealership I purchased my car at as well as 3 others and no one can fix the issues. I contacted Toyota National and they told me that they will not do anything about this and that I need to continue to work with dealerships on these issues. I have to use earplugs to drive this piece of junk, the engine sounds like a race car at full speed, the ride is rough and vibrates clear up the seat to head, tires lasted only 25K miles, etc. Dealer I bought car at told me to turn up the radio, use earphone or earplugs, that Toyota reengineered the side mirrors and small window and that this is the cause of the wind vortex sound around doors, that



2 of 6 people found this review helpful

Mpg - yay! everything else

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Vehicle: 2012 Toyota Prius Two 4dr Hatchback (1.8L 4cyl gas/electric hybrid CVT)

Toyota has made one efficient vehicle here. I achieve 45 - 55 mpg without really trying. In fact, I drive %100 of the time in "PWR" mode just to give this car some small modicum of driving enjoyment. But it's very small. This car, simply put, sucks all the enjoyment out of driving. It is painfully slow. Those who claim it is not slow have probably not driven a normal car in a quite a while. It is very loud - lots of road and wind noise. At highway speeds I've got to crank the radio nearly full blast just to hear the music or speech. If high real-world MPGs is your one and only criterion, then you can't do better than the Prius.



3 of 3 people found this review helpful

Getting to know you..all about

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Vehicle: 2012 Toyota Prius Three 4dr Hatchback (1.8L 4cyl gas/electric hybrid CVT)

I've had the Prius Three for about a month and it is the first hybrid car I've owned. There's been a bit of a learning curve as to how the unit operates, what works in driving it and what doesn't. While not a sports car, I think the handling of the Prius is under rated. It's not glued to the rails so to speak but handles far better than many other cars from my past, especially the crossovers and SUVs. The vision outward is a bit of a challenge, especially in the early days but I've since gotten used to the sharp angles and have come to rely on the side view mirrors more than on most any other car I've owned. So far, so good. The joystick gear changer is OK but too 'cute'.




After one year

by on
Vehicle: 2012 Toyota Prius Three 4dr Hatchback (1.8L 4cyl gas/electric hybrid CVT)

The Prius has proven itself to be reliable and provide very good gas mileage. The seats are comfortable, however the road noise needs to be reduced. It may be the norm for cars of this class, but Toyota should do better. I have over 25K miles on the car now so I spend considerable time in it. The only complaint is the highway raod noise. I would gladly trade a mile or two per gallon for a quiet car.



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Read more about the 2012 Toyota Prius

Gas Mileage

EPA-Rated MPG

  • 51
  • cty
/
  • 48
  • highway
Calculate Yearly Fuel Costs
Reliability

Identifix Reliability Ratings

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