2012 Toyota Prius Hatchback Review | Edmunds.com

2012 Toyota Prius Hatchback

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Certified Pre-Owned (CPO) is a category of used car. Often late-model vehicles, they have been inspected, refurbished, if necessary, and are under warranty by the manufacturer.
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

2012 prius

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

Bought my 2012 Prius hatchback 5, 2 weeks ago and love it! They took $5000 off sticker and I got zero percent financing! I'm getting on average 49 miles per gallon and it cost me $27 dollars to fill up the gas tank! Used to pay 70 to 75 dollars a week!

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

Over all value

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

These cars deliver maximum MPG in a city setting. My car requires a fill up only once every 3 weeks. I test my milage and have found that the mpg as listed in the cars figures and my figures agree. I have no complaints with the interior except that my golf clubs are about 2 inches to long to fit in the trunk comfortably. I am 5'3" and my husband is 6'3" and we both are very satisfied with the car, both comfort wise and performance wise.

5 of 7 people found this review helpful

Fuel economy is misleading

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

I was buying this model in February-March 2012, when neither diller, no Toyota website had the 2012 model description. I was told that the model is exactly as 2011. It turned out that there's single difference - parking assist was removed from 2012 model. Huge, huge disappointment! Another minus is that Toyota, looks like intentionally!, overstates fuel economy. The car does regularly show 49 to 51 overall mpg, but the number is always (I mean ALWAYS) 2-2.5 mpg higher than reality (miles driven/number of galons filled in). At 60mph the car shows speed 2mph higher than external GPSes. May be related to the previous. Tires are bad, very noisy on hwy. Hwy mpg is only about 40 at 70-75mph.

6 of 6 people found this review helpful

More car than i expected

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

I lease, always get 15,000 miles. Got car in Florida and full pack with 6 months of gear including 2 sets of golf clubs got 50 mpg or more. I was totally amazed. Prior to that I had a hybrid from another Japanese automaker and milking it on a trip I got 44 maybe. The Prius actually does just as good stop and go driving and with the a/c on. I maybe get a tow bar to carry bikes, I know my other car go 10 mpg less with the bikes on, really underpowered dud. I am hoping the Prius can handle them.

9 of 9 people found this review helpful

Great car - comfortable cruiser

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

Had to spring for the Prius 5 since the fabric seats in the 3 were the worst (flat with no lumbar support). The leatherette seats in the 5 are awesome. Plus the 5 wheels are nice. The car is quiet, comfortable and can fit five, with room in the back for three to four wheeled carry-on suitcases. With about 1000 miles getting about 49mpg on the readout and about 46mpg using the manual calc method - in 80% hwy 20% city. Short 5 minute trips will only get you about 30 to 40 mpg since the engine has to warm up before it shuts off at stops. Still twice the mileage in the city of any gas miser. Have got up to 75mpg on a short trip when I used only the ev mode (slow excel) up to 35mph.

17 of 17 people found this review helpful

A happy buyer.

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

Just purchased a 2012, loaded Prius. Out the door at $35k. Switched from a Mercedes e350 that was getting 16 mpg city driving. Spending $80 dollars per week was just pissing me off...so i took the plunge. The performance is no comparison to the Mercedes, and the interior is bit bland. However, I am really enthused about the gas mileage. Drove around the city, punching the gas to see how bad of mileage I could get (seriously), I ended up with 44 after a day. The next day I babied the gas pedal on got 50. My wife is a real baby and wont drive anything but a benz, she is actually kind of liking this car, which is a big relief. My 10 year old son loves the big back seats.

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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