2012 Toyota Prius C: How Much Should We Rely on Our Smartphones?
February 26, 2013
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.
OK, so our Prius C is a Three model, which includes Toyota's entry-level factory navigation system and a touchscreen audio-nav interface. But every time I get in, I hook up my iPhone so I can get traffic data via Entune. Granted, if I was using an Android phone (and I'm planning to test out my spouse's Galaxy S III in here as soon as I can wrest it from him), I would have to plug it in with a physical cord. Although, plugging in is a sensible thing to do if you don't want to drain your battery. It just would be nice if the cord wasn't always so visible. When I have a passenger, I'm always tucking the cord into the tray above the glovebox to get it out of the way. At least, the phone doesn't slide around much.
Lately, I've also been playing the Baseball Tonight daily podcasts to get in shape for the upcoming fantasy season. Never been a big podcaster, but they're interesting and I like that the art downloads just like it would for a music album.
So life is great. What's the problem? Well, when I run errands, I unhook the phone and take it with me. And when I return, I have to plug it in again and hit OK and Continue a bunch of times on the nav screen to reestablish the internet connection. And sometimes the phone and the audio system get confused, like last night when my podcast decided to play through the phone's speakers instead of the car's.
Considering the price tag on the Toyota Prius C, I can put up with some inconvenience. But I'm not sure I'm ready to deal with a setup like the BringGo app for the Chevrolet Spark, where navigation functionality is provided entirely by your phone, at least not until real 4G coverage becomes widespread.
Erin Riches, Senior Editor @ 11,535 miles