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 Yes
  • Heated Seats Yes

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.

What Others Are Saying

Customer Reviews

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

Love my prius

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

I was impressed from the moment I sat in the 2012 Prius, it has so many features and I have found it fun to drive on short and long trips. I owned a RAV 4 before trading it in for the Prius and found the Prius to be quieter than the RAV so I was happy about that. The milage is great and I am happy with the cost so far. I believe this will last me for a very long time. A couple of negative things, the USB port is in an awkward place and the date is very hard to change on the computer and the seats could be more comfortable.

6 of 6 people found this review helpful

Owned a short time, but

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

We purchased a four with sunroof, and added the 17 inch wheels to it. Drove one with the 17 inch wheels and it made a wonderful difference in ride/handling. Mileage so far is 51.9 avg.. The car is truly a tech. marvel. The inside is a little noisy but I think some of that is due to the standard toy size 15 inch tires that come on it. The sunroof is terrific and well worth the money. This car does not feel anything like our prior older Prius which felt like a much more base/utilitarian vehicle. We also have a high end MB and I am finding myself driving this more than it-because it is fun.

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

Great car for if you

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

I got the 2012 Prius IV after trading in my fully loaded 2005 Prius with 200,000 miles. The 2005 still drove like new and was a solid vehicle. I'm a little disappointed with the 2012. It feels and sounds less well built than the 2005 and I miss the little storage areas and layout of the interior on the 2005. But I bought the Prius for good MPG and that's where it satisfies. I drive about 95% highway miles carrying about 100 pounds of cargo and I'm getting actual calculated mileage just shy of 49 after 17,000 miles. My 2005 averaged just under 44 but that included several Wisconsin winters that cuts into the MPG. Overall I'm satisfied. It does just fine for what I expect.

5 of 5 people found this review helpful

L o v e this

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

I purchased the '12 Pkg 4 with the solar sun roof and just love it! I traded in my '04 Chevy Trailblazer XLT for this and will NEVER be going back to an SUV. I thought it would take a little bit to get used to, but that was not the case. It's sporty, it's zippy and much quicker to the "get go" than any SUV i've ever driven. Tons and tons of features. I love that it is tiny, but not really. There is TONS of space. I love that I get about 45 MPG instead of 15 (I even got 76 MPG in the Black Hills!) Gas savings are huge! My suggestion is to compare this car to your current car, not to other hybrids. I save over $200/month on gas alone from my previous car. Toyota has been around!

20 of 20 people found this review helpful

It's always been about the

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

bought the package 4 not long ago. it took a while to get accustomed to the "park" button, the "gear" selector, and the complicated instrumentation display. the car is fairly quiet, though, i remember riding in a 2nd generation prius which seemed better at taking care of road noise. i drove it from l.a. to phoenix and had no problems accelerating up hills. with the a/c running, i averaged 50.9 mpg throughout the entire 780 mile round trip. the seats are comfortable and there's plenty of legroom for everyone. toyota made the prius because of their (mis)interpretation of calif. air quality standards way back when. the low emissions are great, and, the high MPGs are an added bonus.

15 of 15 people found this review helpful

2 months of city driving

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

Just had it about two months. Very good handling vehicle around town and the mpg are fantastic! I'm averaging over 50 mpg in stop and go driving. Took a relatively long trip of 350 miles and averaged 56 mpg. Seats are very comfortable and the NAV system and technology features are great. Sound system works very well; I have the Deluxe Solar Package and the upgraded stereo is excellent. There is a solar array on top of the vehicle that runs a ventilation system to cool the car on sunny days and this is another wonderful feature. I've had sun roofs on all my cars since 1978 so I had to have this on the Prius.

Gas Mileage


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

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.


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.


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.

Talk About The 2012 Prius

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