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For the 2012 model year, the Toyota Prius receives a slight visual refresh.
Our Prius Four model features gloss-black trim on its lower grille opening and projector-style headlamps with an auto on-and-off function.
Under the Prius' hood breathes the same 1.8-liter version of Toyota's Hybrid Synergy Drive system that has been there since the third generation's launch in 2010. This is a good thing.
Inside, the Prius' cabin features a layout that is best described as unique.
All of the areas of interaction seem to wrap around the driver thanks to the Prius' floating center console.
The dashboard directly behind the steering wheel is clear of gauges.
Soft, rubber buttons for volume and skip can be found on this side of the wheel along with a bank of voice command and hands-free calling buttons.
The other side of the wheel is where controls for the instrument cluster and climate systems can be found.
The Prius' instrument cluster has been pushed back to the base of the windshield, beneath this low plastic brow.
Half of the instrument cluster is a configurable display that can show a visual representation of the hybrid system.
Additional readouts include this Hybrid system status screen and a histogram of fuel economy that can be displayed in 1- and 5-minute intervals.
The Prius uses a continuously variable transmission that is commanded with this very sci-fi shifter.
Place the car into reverse gear and the 6.1-inch screen at the center of the dashboard will display video from a rear-view camera.
The Prius Four features a basic navigation system as a standard feature. This system doesn't feature traffic without the assistance of Entune and your Internet-connected smartphone.
In addition to traffic, Entune also features Bing destination search, Pandora Internet radio streaming, weather forecasts, stock prices, and sports scores.
During setup, you'll need to pair a Bluetooth-enabled smartphone and log in to the Entune server.
In addition to acting as an Internet connection, your smartphone can also be paired for hands-free calling and audio streaming.
Users can direct-dial contacts using this virtual keypad or search their contacts list for phone numbers. Contacts that feature addresses can also be set as navigation destinations.
Tapping the Car button to the right of the screen brings up this historical fuel economy graph.
Likewise, there is an energy monitor screen that shows yet another visual representation of the Toyota Hybrid Synergy Drive system.
SiriusXM Satellite Radio is standard on the Prius Four, with 90 days of trial service included with your purchase.
AM/FM radio, a single-disc CD player, and an analog auxiliary input round out the available audio sources.
Toyota's first hybrid is now just one of many and only one of four vehicles to wear the Prius badge.
The Prius Four comes standard with heated SofTex seats and a driver's bucket that is eight-way power adjustable.
The rear seat offers decent leg- and headroom.
LED taillights are now standard on the Prius and draw less battery power than the incandescents they replace.
The liftback design of the Prius affords it plenty of rear storage space. There's even a hidden storage nook beneath the falsely flat floor.
Fold the rear seats flat, however, and the Prius can seem downright cavernous.