2012 Toyota Prius Plug-In

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2012 Toyota Prius Plug-In Review

The hybrid darling now comes with a plug.

Reviewed by Automotive on

Overview
To many people, the Toyota Prius is synonymous with the word "hybrid car." For 2012, Toyota expands the Prius model lineup for the first time with not one, but two new models.

The first, the 2012 Toyota Prius Plug-In hybrid (PHV), is a version where the electric battery can be recharged via a common electric outlet. The Plug-In hybrid can travel up to 15 miles on pure electric power alone and at speeds up to 62 mph before the 1.8-liter inline-4 engine kicks in. The Toyota Prius Plug-In Hybrid comes with an external recharging cable and can take between 1.5 to 3 hours to recharge the all-new lithium ion battery.

Toyota's all new voice-controlled, smartphone interactive Entune infotainment system will be available on the 2012 Toyota Prius Plug-In Hybrid as well as on the standard Toyota Prius and the larger Prius v.

The Range

Body style: Hatchback
Engine: 1.8-liter inline-4 and electric motor
Transmission: Continuously variable transmission
Models: Standard, Advanced

What's New

Two new Prius vehicles join the hybrid fleet since the Toyota Prius first debated back in 1997 and the current, third-generation design went on sale in 2009 as a 2010 model.

As its name implies, the 2012 Toyota Prius Plug-in hybrid allows charging of the battery via an electric outlet in addition to the regular Prius' Hybrid Synergy Drive system. Still powered by a lone 1.8-liter inline-4 engine plus electric motors, the Prius Plugin hybrid replaces the standard Toyota Prius' nickel metal hydride (NiMH) battery with a lithium-ion (Li-ion) battery pack. The 2012 Prius Plug-In can now be plugged into a standard AC outlet and 15-amp dedicated circuit. It takes approximately 2.5 to 3.0 hours to fully charge the Prius Plug-in Hybrid using a 120-volt household outlet. Recharge time is cut roughly in half to 1.5 hours if a 240v outlet is used instead. An easy-to-use 120-volt external charging cable is thoughtfully provided for the Toyota Prius PHV by the automaker.

A new infotainment system called Entune is introduced in the 2012 Toyota Prius, Toyota Prius PHV, and the Toyota Prius v. The automaker's answer to Ford's Sync/MyFord offering, the Toyota Entune system allows users to access their apps via voice command on their smartphones while on the road. Entune also offers information services such as fuel price guide, sports scores, stocks, traffic and weather, many of which can be controlled by the voice command. The Toyota Prius Plug-in Hybrid, in addition, gets smartphone apps to assist owners including Charge Management, Remote Air Conditioning System, Charging Station Map, Vehicle Finder, and Eco Dashboard.

Exterior

The Toyota Prius was redesigned back in 2010 and the automaker made no major exterior changes to the 2011 standard model which carries over into 2012. For the 2012 Toyota Prius Plug-In Hybrid, Toyota adds a revamped front grill, chrome-like finish on the door handles, and a rear license plate garnish and the battery charging door. The Prius Plug-in Hybrid also sports unique badges, blue-accent headlamps and LED taillight clusters. The Toyota Prius PHV is available in five exterior colors for 2012, including the new Clearwater Blue.

Interior

The Toyota Prius was redesigned back in 2010 and the automaker made no major interior changes to the 2011 model which carries over into 2012. For the 2012 Toyota Prius Plug-In Hybrid, Toyota adds more features like standard heated seats.

Performance & Handling

In 2010, Toyota revamped the Prius' engine and powertrain system and added 24 additional horsepower with the larger engine. The Prius, like virtually all Toyota vehicles, possess a quiet interior and is a comfortable ride. The 2012 Prius has four driving modes available: Normal, Power, Eco, and EV. Eco mode offers the best fuel economy but power, especially while accelerating, is sluggish. Power mode boosts engine response and power. Finally, EV mode allows only the electric motor to power the Prius but under certain conditions and duration.

Safety

The 2012 Toyota Prius, like all current Toyota vehicles, comes standard with the Toyota STAR safety system which includes anti-lock brakes (ABS), electronic brake force distribution (EBD), brake assist, Smart Stop (SST), traction control (TRAC), and vehicle stability control (VSC). Other available systems include Dynamic Radar Cruise Control system and Safety Connect. The 2012 Toyota Prius Plug-In Hybrid comes with eight airbags as standard.

EPA Fuel Economy

Toyota Prius Plug-In Hybrid: 87 mpg equivalent (mpge); 49 mpg

You'll Like

  • Fuel economy
  • Comfortable ride
  • Familiar (especially if you have previously owned a Toyota Prius)

You Won't Like

  • Polarizing styling
  • Scarce options
  • Dated interior materials

Sum Up

The hybrid darling now comes with a plug.

If You Like This Vehicle

  • Chevrolet Volt
  • Mitsubishi i
  • Nissan Leaf

See the New 2014 Prius Plug-In.

Front & Driver Side View

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