Car Review: Some tweaks, but Prius is still an awesome hybrid

If you are in the market for the quintessential hybrid then look no further than the 2012 Toyota Prius.
Photo: Russell Dandridge

DALLAS, September 5, 2012 — Hello 2012 Toyota Prius. If you are in the market for the quintessential hybrid then look no further. Just as it has in past years, this year’s Prius adds a Plus Performance accessory package, and I found the handling to be much more incisive with a sportier edge.

In its third generation now, the 2012 Toyota Prius also has undergone minor design changes with the possibility of power front seats.

Other hybrids up against the Prius include the Ford Fusion Hybrid and even the Toyota Camry Hybrid, a bit of a step up.

Trims for the 2012 Toyota Prius include the four-door hatchback available in the Two, Three, Four, and Five.

On the Prius Two, expect 15-inch alloy wheels, heated power mirrors, rear window wiper, keyless ignition and entry, cruise control, automatic climate control, a tilt-and-telescoping steering wheel, height-adjustable driver seat, and a 60/40-split-folding rear seat along with a variety of techno and audio additions.

The Prius Three adds to that impressive list an enhanced keyless entry, rearview camera, navigation system, voice controls, satellite radio, and Toyota’s Entune system with real-time traffic, weather and fuel prices. You can also opt for the Solar Roof package with a sunroof and solar-powered ventilation system, making it easier on the Prius’ air-conditioning.

Prius, front view

On the Prius Four, there are automatic headlights, an eight-way power driver seat, heated front seats, synthetic leather upholstery, auto-dimming rearview mirror, and you can add the Deluxe Solar Roof package with all the Prius Three Solar Roof extras and a head-up display, Safety Connect emergency communications, and high-definition navigation system.

With the top-of-the-line Prius Five, you get 17-inch alloy wheels, fog lamps and LED headlamps with auto level control and washers. For this one you might consider the Advanced Technology package with adaptive cruise control, pre-collision alert system and a lane-departure warning system.

The Plus Appearance package can be had on all the trims as an extra with 17-inch alloy wheels, a seven-piece aerodynamic body kit and sport-tuned suspension.

Under the hood the 2012 Toyota Prius has a 1.8-liter four-cylinder engine and a pair of electric motor/generators. You also get 134 horsepower with a continuously variable transmission.

Toyota’s safety additions to the Prius are antilock disc brakes, stability and traction control, front side, side curtain, and a driver knee airbag. On the Prius Four and Five, you can opt for the Safety Connect emergency communications system while the Prius Five comes with a pre-collision and lane-departure warning system.

Inside, the Prius is pretty easy to figure out, with controls that are driver-friendly and easy to use. Of course there is also the touchscreen with added techie features for 2012, and all is designed appropriately for easy use.

Expect plenty of cargo room, thanks to the hatchback style. Backseat passengers will be happy too with the amount of space offered.

Overall, driving the 2012 Toyota Prius feels good thanks to its easy handling and owning the road with four driving options — Normal, Eco, Power and EV — to thinking about the environment as well.

Also one to watch is the Prius C since it is a subcompact hatchback, which drives more like a vehicle that is not quite so hybrid happy.

Should You Need to Know: Great fuel economy on this one and there is a lot of room with fun techno goodies to play with, making this an all around good choice.

Miles Per Gallon: The Prius offers lots of variety. I drove the Prius C with 53 miles per gallon in the city and 46 miles per gallon on the highway.

Cost: The coast of the Prius C, I drove came in at $23,245.

Rita Cook is a writer/editor with has over 1000 articles to her credit in the past 13-plus years. She is a frequent auto and travel contributor on a radio show in Los Angeles called Insider Mag Radio at KPRO 1570 am on from midnight to 12:30 a.m. Monday mornings.

She also contributes travel and auto to the Anthony Duva show, which can be heard live from 2:00 p.m. to 4:00 p.m. EST every Sunday at www.unregularradio.com.

Cook is a member of the Texas Auto Writer’s Association, writes for the Dallas Morning News Green Living Section as well as artist profiles and www.greensourceDFW and spends much of her time on the road traveling or working on books.

Her latest book releases are both “Haunted Dallas” and “Haunted Fort Worth” from www.historypress.net. Her third book in the Haunted Series will be released in October “Haunted Bartlesville, Oklahoma.” Follow Cook at Twitter at @ritacook13.


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Rita Cook

Rita Cook is a writer/editor with over 1000 articles to her credit in the past 10-plus years. She is the co-host of a radio show in Los Angeles; Insider Mag Radio at KPRO 1570 am and is on from midnight to 12:30 a.m. Monday mornings.  Cook is a member of the Texas Auto Writer’s Association and also writes an eco-friendly column for the Dallas Morning News.

 

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