To many people, the Toyota Prius is synonymous with the words “hybrid car.” Still powered by a combination of a 1.8-liter inline-4 engine and electric motors, the standard 2012 Prius continues to get an EPA-estimated 51/48 mpg city/highway. For 2012, Toyota expands the model lineup for the first time. 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 bigger 2012 Toyota Prius v is larger, longer, and can hold up to five individuals comfortably.
A new infotainment system called Entune is introduced in the 2012 Toyota Prius. The automaker's answers 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 a fuel price guide, sports scores, stocks, traffic and weather, many of which can be controlled by the voice command.
Body style: Hatchback
Engine: 1.8-liter inline-4 and electric motor
Transmission: Continuously variable transmission
Models: Prius, Prius Two, Prius Three, Prius Four, Prius Five; Prius Plug-in; Prius v
Two new Prius vehicles join the hybrid fleet since the Toyota Prius first debuted back in 1997 and 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. The Prius Plug-in hybrid can travel up to 16 miles on electric power alone and at speeds up to 62 mph before the gas engine kicks in. Owners can recharge the Prius Plug-in lithium-ion battery (which replaces the regular Prius' nickel metal hydride battery) in 2.5 to 3.0 hours using a 120 volt household outlet or roughly half that time using a 240 volt outlet.
The 2012 Toyota Prius v (it stands for "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. 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 a "low" 44/40 mpg city/highway.
The standard 2012 Toyota Prius models primarily get upgrades in their infotainment systems. Toyota Prius Two models get a new touch-screen system; Prius Three adds GPS navigation and Entune, Toyota's hands-free app and data services control system; while the Prius Four gets an environmentally friendly audio system.
The Toyota Prius was redesigned back 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.
There are no significant exterior differences in the 2012 Toyota Prius Plug-In Hybrid and the standard model, aside from a port to plug the car in.
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.
The 2012 Toyota Prius v has nearly twice the interior space of the standard Prius when the v's front passenger seat and the second row seating are lain flat.
There are no significant interior differences in the 2012 Toyota Prius Plug-In Hybrid and the standard model.
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 offers 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. A new PLUS performance package appears on the regular Prius for the 2012 model year, with 17-inch forged alloy wheels and a more sporty appeal.
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.
EPA Fuel Economy
Toyota Prius: 51 mpg city/48 mpg highway
Toyota Prius Plug-In Hybrid: 87 mpg equivalent (mpge); 49 mpg
Toyota Prius v: 44 mpg city/40 mpg highway
- Fuel economy
More interior room (Prius v)
You Won't Like
- Polarizing styling
Dated interior materials
Still the best hybrid out there
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