2012 Toyota Prius V
Leading fuel economy; proven reliability; new models provide cargo and passenger flexibility
The original Prius set the hybrid standard for the rest of the American car market. It proved that a practical mid-size hybrid vehicle could work and be family-friendly while achieving 50 mpg efficiency ratings.
The full hybrid drivetrain of the Prius means it can run on engine alone, battery alone or a combination of the two depending on the demands of the driver and the terrain. It consists of a 1.8L 4-cylinder engine and a NiMh battery pack and motor. The engine charges the battery and the battery assists the motor when needed. The brakes capture kinetic energy and use it to recharge the battery as well.
The suspension is a very conventional MacPherson strut/torsion beam setup. The car comes with a 6-speaker stereo, power accessories and automatic climate control-- essentially a very conventional mid-size sedan-- one that achieves 51 mpg in the city and 48 mpg on the highway.
For 2012, Toyota introduced several new Prius variations intended to appeal to a wider group of potential buyers. A larger version of the Prius is called the Prius v. It's a little longer than the standard Prius with most of that length going for rear-seat room and rear cargo space, essentially making this a "Prius Wagon." The Prius v gets the same powertrain-- a 1.8L 4-cylinder and battery pack, and fuel economy will be slightly lower with this model. However, it still offers the same value-packed standard feature list and "green" credibility as its older brother. Prices on the Prius v start at $26,400.
The other variant Toyota added this year is a Prius Plug-in. It uses wall charger to maximize the range of its onboard battery and thus achieve very high fuel economy numbers. The Plug-In utilizes the standard Prius body and a similar powertrain, but, like GM's Chevy Volt, is intended to be plug-in charged before use. The stored energy in the battery pack can propel the Prius plug-in for 13 miles without starting the gasoline engine and it charges in as little as 1.5 hours. Most commuters will be able to get to work on battery power alone, carrying the 1.8L high-efficiency engine for anywhere else they want to go. Prices start around $32,000.
The big Prius news for 2012 is that Toyota is adding several new versions of the Prius-- a bigger Prius v that features more rear seat room and more cargo space than the standard Prius as well as an ultra-high-efficient Prius Plug-in.
The standard Prius is carried over for 2012, but it does feature an upgraded stereo.
The Prius has set the standard for hybrid-powertrains in the US since it was introduced. The current model is the most efficient, most reliable Prius yet and starting at $22,120 before tax rebates and incentives, it's an amazing bargain.
With several new Prius variations on the way, the winning hybrid powertrain will be available in more body styles to appeal to more car buyers. Anyone who thought the original Prius was too small should look for the Prius v. Customers looking to maximize their fuel economy would be advised to consider the Prius Plug-in. Both feature Toyota's reliable, efficient hybrid technology at a reasonable price.
* EPA mileage estimates and EPA fuel economy methods based on models beginning with
the indicated model year. Use for comparison purposes only. Do not compare to models
before the indicated model year. Your actual mileage will vary depending on how
you drive and maintain your vehicle.