Toyota first debut the Toyota Prius in 1997 in its home market of Japan before the hybrid went on sale in the rest of the world in 2001. Now in its third generation, Toyota expands the 2012 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 second is the larger 2012 Toyota Prius v. Aimed at young families, the Prius v is larger and longer than the other two models and can seat up to five individuals comfortably.
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 the standard Toyota Prius and the larger Prius v.
Body style: Wagon
Engine: 1.8-liter inline-4 and electric motor
Transmission: Continuously variable transmission
Models: Two, Three, Five
Two new Prius vehicles join the hybrid fleet since the Toyota Prius first debated back in 1997 and current, third generation design went on sale in 2009 as a 2010 model.
The 2012 Toyota Prius v (versatility) is, essentially, a wagon version of the Prius hatchback. According to Toyota, the Prius v is aimed at "young families" and can fit a driver and up to four passengers in comfort. Rear row seats can actually recline, a first for this segment. Also, cargo space behind the rear row is slightly more than 34 cubic feet and nearly double that figure with the front passenger seat and second row seating folded down.
The Toyota Prius v's larger size affects its fuel economy, which drops to 44 mpg city/40 mpg highway from the standard Prius hatchback's EPA-estimated 51 mpg city and 48 mpg highway.
The regular-sized Toyota Prius was redesigned in 2010 and the automaker made no major exterior changes to the 2011 model which carries over into 2012. The 2012 Toyota Prius v differentiates itself from its siblings primarily by its size which is five-inches longer, an inch wider, and four-inches taller than the standard Prius hatchback.
The 2012 Toyota Prius v has nearly twice the interior space of the standard Prius. The extra space offered by the 2012 Prius v to include features like reclining rear row seats, a first for this segment. Storage is plentiful including such units as dual glove boxes, a center console utility tray, and five cup holders. Large pockets built into the front and rear inner door pockets can hold bottles of water and other, thinner knickknacks. Cargo room behind the rear row includes built-in storage units on the sides and under the cargo platform. The 2012 Toyota Prius v is even equipped with space under the second row for something as mundane as an umbrella.
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 Toyota Prius v 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, naturally, boosts engine response and power. Finally, EV mode allows only the electric motor to power the Prius but only for a short time, and under certain conditions.
The 2012 Toyota Prius v, 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 and Safety Connect.
EPA Fuel Economy
Toyota Prius v: 44 mpg city/40 mpg highway
- Plenty of interior room
- Comfortable ride
- Reclining rear row
You Won't Like
- Polarizing styling
Dated interior materials
The hybrid darling just put on a few pounds, but in a good way
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