2012 Toyota Prius One
(1.8L 4-cyl. Hybrid CVT Automatic)
What our ratings include
Date Driven: 2/27/2009 (2010 Prius 1)
No one expects a Prius to be truly quick, and ours wasn't. But the 2010 model has enough sauce to merge comfortably and maneuver through traffic, even while carrying a 50-mpg fuel economy rating.
The low rolling resistance tires used here don't produce much cornering grip and the steering isn't particularly direct, a combination that makes the Prius feel up on tiptoes. Panic stopping performance is reassuring.
Bumps and potholes pose no significant problem. It's not plush, but the ride is steady and composed.
Noise levels are all over the map. It's very quiet for brief periods in electric mode, but the engine sometimes revs higher than expected and the hybrid system makes an assortment of odd sounds. Road noise is no better than average.
The center-mounted gauges are a love-it-or-hate-it design. Radio, climate and other controls are easy to operate, but the shifter arrangement is quite odd. Despite a new telescopic feature, the steering wheel is a long reach for some.
Lots of glass, a sloping hood and good headlights make forward visibility a breeze, day or night. Rear visibilitiy is good, too, thanks to a vertical glass panel between the rear taillights.
Seat Access & Space
The Prius' distinctive high roofline provides good headroom and excellent legroom, front and rear -- one reason why you see these used as taxis. It's a bit narrow for three-across seating in the rear, though.
Cargo & Storage
There's a lot more usable space behind the rear seats than almost any regular trunk out there. Cargo space just about doubles when the 60/40 fold-flat seats are, well, folded flat.
The Prius is put together well, though some of the material choices are ordinary and obviously price-driven. Solid, but not exemplary.