The Good The 2012 Toyota Prius delivers stellar fuel economy without requiring much effort on the part of the driver. The smartphone-connected Entune system brings live destination search, traffic data, and Pandora streaming to the dashboard. Voice command tech and intuitive steering-wheel controls help to keep eyes on the road.
The Bad The infotainment system locks the user out of most navigation and calling functions while the vehicle is in motion. The car's touch screen is prone to bad glare with a minimal amount of sunlight, and too many warning screens pop up when you try to use Entune.
The Bottom Line The 2012 Toyota Prius just works, delivering outstanding fuel economy, good cabin-tech options, and a comfortable ride with few compromises.
2012 Toyota Prius
We've already seen the 2012 Toyota Prius. The car that has become synonymous with hybrid vehicle hasn't changed much since we tested, not long after the third-generation debuted. There are a few styling and packaging tweaks, a few new bits of Entune-powered cabin tech, and (most notoriously or subtly, depending on whether you're looking for it) an ever so slightly higher sticker price. Aside from now being just one of four models to bear the "Prius" moniker, the "Classic Silver Metallic" 2012 Toyota Prius Four that rolled into the Car Tech Garage this week was just that: classic Prius.
It was gearing up to be a dull week of fuel economy testing, but then I had what at the moment seemed like a genius moment. Rather than glide around silently in the Prius' ECO mode to test Toyota's and the EPA's claim of 50 mpg combined, why not slap the Power Mode button at the beginning of every trip, drive it like a San Francisco cabbie (a large number of whom actually do drive Prii), and see if I could throw a monkey wrench in Toyota's fuel economy claim.
In our previous reviews of Prius models, we've tested electric only range, we've tested theoretical maximum fuel economy. This time, I set about to test the Prius' performance when I simply stopped treating it like something special--when I stopped babying the gas pedal and just drove it like I actually needed to be somewhere on time.
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