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William Maley

2012 Toyota Prius Four

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By William Maley

Staff Writer - CheersandGears.com

January 9, 2013

Ask someone to say the first thing that comes to their mind when you mention the word hybrid, and more often than not they will say the Toyota Prius. Despite not being the first hybrid on sale in the U.S. (that honor falls to the 1999 Honda Insight, which went on sale a full two years before the Prius in the U.S.), the Prius became a sales success and symbol for the hybrid vehicle. Why? The Prius offered the right mix of unheard fuel economy, features, and practicality in one package.

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Now in its third-generation, the unassuming hybrid hatchback falls into two polar opposite camps of thought. Those who love its efficiency and reliability and those who think the Pruis is an anathema to everything held dear by car enthusiasts.

I'm an auto enthusiast, so when I recently spent a week in a 2012 Toyota Prius, I naturally approached the car with skepticism. Is it as good as the high fuel economy fans claim? Is it kryptonite to automotive enthusiasts? Read on to find out.

Encounters of the Hybrid Kind

The third-generation Prius is very much like the previous-generation model with its alien spaceship look. The third-generation model carries on the oval-esque shape with some aerodynamic tweaks including a smoother front end, squared-off corners on the rear end, and a new rear spoiler. These design changes help drop the drag coefficient from 0.26 cd to 0.25 cd.

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Other items of note include a set of LED taillights and an optional solar panel (part of a $3,820.00 Deluxe Solar Roof package) that power fans to cool down the vehicle’s interior without turning on the vehicle. I didn't get chance to try it since the average temperature here in Detroit was in the mid-thirties during my time and I rather enter a warm, not cold Prius. What would make this optional solar panel even better is the ability to charge the battery when the Prius is parked and keep the Prius warm in winter.

Inside, the alien spaceship design theme continues with a floating center stack, a uniquely-styled shift knob, and a digital gauge cluster sitting on top and in the middle of the dashboard. The placement of gauge cluster does make it somewhat harder to make a quick glance while on the move. My test Prius did come with a heads-up display which had a speedometer and a power gauge letting you know how much power you’re drawing from the hybrid system. I do want to talk to the person who decided to hide the buttons for the heated seats underneath the center stack. The only way you know where they’re hiding is when you enter or exit the Prius. Did no one at Toyota bring this up during one of the design meetings? Seating was decent for both front and rear passengers with enough head and legroom.

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Materials are what you would find in current Toyota models; hard plastics and very synthetic-feeling leather. This would be ok if the price tag of this Prius wasn’t $33,118.00. The only real positive to the interior is that build quality is very good throughout the interior.

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As I mentioned earlier, this Prius was equipped with the $3,820.00 Deluxe Solar Roof package. Besides the solar roof, the package includes a seven-inch touch screen, navigation, Toyota’s Entune System, Bluetooth, an eight-speaker JBL system, and Toyota’s safety connect which provides emergency assistance services. The touchscreen was very responsive when pressed and provided the right amount brightness whether it was day or night. The eight-speaker JBL system provided ok sound, but I found that I had to turn it up when driving the Prius on the highway as there was too much road noise. As for Entune, I didn't get chance to try it since I didn't have the application on my iPhone to utilize the system. Yes, you need the Entune application on either your iPhone or Android phone to use it.

Under the Skin, It’s a Prius Alright

Pop the hood of the Prius and right before your eyes is one part of Toyota’s Hybrid Synergy Drive; a 1.8L Atkinson cycle four-cylinder engine producing 98 horsepower (@ 5,200 rpm) and 105 lb-ft of torque (@ 4,000 rpm), and a electric motor producing 80 horsepower and 153 lb-ft of torque. Total power output is rated at 134 horsepower. The other part of Toyota’s Hybrid Synergy Drive is a Nickel-Metal Hydride battery pack sitting in the back of the Prius. Your only transmission is a CVT.

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The Prius’ powertrain gets the job done. It will take a few seconds longer to get up to the speed on the road. Not much noise from either the engine or CVT enters the cabin when you accelerate normally. If you need to get a move on because there is a larger vehicle bearing down onto you or need to merge onto the highway, the drone of the engine and CVT are very apparent. Thankfully, the hybrid system seamlessly transitions electric power.

The center stack has three buttons that can change the behavior of the hybrid system. The first is an EV mode which allows the Prius to travel a short distance on electric power alone below 25 MPH. The hybrid system will turn if you go above 25 or press further down on the pedal. With a light foot, I was able to go about a mile on electric power alone. Next is Eco mode which reduces throttle response in an emphasis to get better fuel economy numbers. This is ok if you don’t have a lot of traffic behind you or in a hurry to move along. If you don’t meet either or the criteria, leave Eco mode off. Finally there is Power mode which is the opposite of Eco mode. This mode noticeably increases throttle response to help you in certain situations like merging onto a highway.

Fuel economy is very impressive for this small car. The EPA rates the Prius at 51 City/48 Highway/50 Combined. During my week with the Prius, I averaged 47.9 MPG with mostly suburban driving and sticking my foot into it.

Ride and handling is taken care with a pair of MacPherson struts with a stabilizer bar up front and a torsion beam setup in the rear. While the setup isn’t technologically advanced like the rest of the Prius, it provides a somewhat comfortable ride. I did wish for some more damping when driving over craters that are called potholes in the Detroit area.

Steering for the Prius comes in the form of an electric power-assisted rack-and-pinion system. The steering has some heft and some feel, something the old Prius lacked. That doesn’t make it a driver’s car since the Prius’ suspension is more tuned for comfort and the standard low-rolling resistance tires don’t provide enough grip.

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The Prius is a quiet vehicle when driven below 50 MPH. Go above that and you’ll notice an abundance of road and wind noise. I’m hoping with the next-generation Prius, Toyota puts in some more sound deadening material. Visibility is very good for the front and side. Rear visibility takes a hit due to the rear hatch shape and the large spoiler sitting in the middle of the hatch. Thankfully, the Prius did come equipped with a standard rear view camera.

The Prius truly delivers on its promise of greenness with some impressive fuel economy numbers, clever technologies to make every use up every last drop of gas, unique design, and comfortable ride. However, the Prius has some faults. The road and wind noise while going above 50 MPH tops my list followed by the interior materials.

That said the Toyota Prius is the perfect vehicle for someone who commutes in town and wants to tell everyone that they’re saving the planet. For me, I’ll pass on the Prius.

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Cheers

Fuel Economy

Technology

Exterior Looks

Somewhat Comfortable Ride

Jeers

Wind and Road Noise at Speed

Engine and CVT During Hard Acceleration

Materials Used in the Cabin

Disclaimer: Toyota provided the vehicle, insurance, and one tank of gasoline.

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Album: 2012 Toyota Prius Four

18 images

0 comments

Year - 2012

Make – Toyota

Model – Prius

Trim – Four

Engine – 1.8L Atkinson cycle four-cylinder, Electric Motor

Driveline – Front-Wheel Drive, Electronically Controlled continuously Variable Transmission

Horsepower @ RPM – (Gas) 98 HP (@ 5,200 RPM), (Electric) 80 HP (N/A), (Combined) 134 HP

Torque @ RPM – (Gas) 105 lb-ft (@ 4,000 RPM), (Electric) 153 HP (N/A), (Combined) N/A

Fuel Economy: City/Highway/Combined - 51/48/50

Curb Weight – 3,042 lbs

Location of Manufacture – Tsutsumi, Japan

Base Price - $28,235.00

As Tested Price - $33,118.00 (Includes $760.00 Destination Charge)

Options

  • Deluxe Solar Roof Package: $3,820.00
  • Carpet Floor Mats & Cargo Mat: $225.00
  • Cargo Net: $49.00
  • First Aid Kit: $29.00

William Maley is a staff writer for Cheers & Gears. He can be reached at william.maley@cheersandgears.com or you can follow him on twitter at @realmudmonster.


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Nice write up Mud!

I will have to say when a person mentions hybrid the following comes to mind.

Sardines, Coffin, Cramped, Sterile.

Based on the pictures above, it would seem Toyota has done nothing to change my sentiment.

I would love you guys to get a Volt and do a review on it and then comparison to the Prius. :)

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One of my favorite cars. Nice that you weren't overly harsh. I find the Prius to be pretty spacious. Materials are budget-oriented. I like the SofTex synthetic leather seats. I don't find the Volt to drive any better than the Prius. The Volt drives like an economy car to me.

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I found the volt quite nice as far as power output went. I wish I had been able to take it farther than around in circles at the dealership - but It certainly seemed to have more spunk and was far more visually appealing than the Prius.

Also, the 80's are over - why doesnt Toyota split up their letters in badging?.. the attachment bars between each letter look cheap.

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One of my favorite cars. Nice that you weren't overly harsh. I find the Prius to be pretty spacious. Materials are budget-oriented. I like the SofTex synthetic leather seats. I don't find the Volt to drive any better than the Prius. The Volt drives like an economy car to me.

You must be in the 5'8" tall group as the Prius is with all the rest of compact cars being cramped. This is a commuter car at best and nothing more. The VOLT on the other hand can do road trips in comfort.

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Nice write up Mud!

I will have to say when a person mentions hybrid the following comes to mind.

Sardines, Coffin, Cramped, Sterile.

Based on the pictures above, it would seem Toyota has done nothing to change my sentiment.

I would love you guys to get a Volt and do a review on it and then comparison to the Prius. :)

Volt is way more sardine and coffin-like than Prius. One of the reasons why Prius sells so well -- and why vehicles like the Insight do not -- is that it functions as a perfectly useful midsized family hatchback AND gets 50 mpg combined. Ford is seeing similar sales success with the launch of C-MAX, which is also very functional.

Having driven both, I would say that Volt is smoother and more rewarding, simply because you get seamless, linear, and immediate power delivery. But Prius makes a better family car; it's arguably one of the best out there.

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      The script flips however when you put the 2018 CX-5 Grand Touring under the microscope. The AWD version begins at $30,945 and with a few options such as the Soul Red paint and Premium package, the vehicle seen here comes to $34,685. But you can get into the Tiguan SEL AWD that adds adaptive cruise control, power liftgate, and navigation for only $2,295 less than our as-tested CX-5. While the CX-5 does offer more of a premium interior, the larger interior and slightly better infotainment system give the Tiguan a slight edge.
      Verdict
      It feels weird to describe the verdict between the two compact crossovers as a decision to satisfy your desires or needs. The 2018 Mazda CX-5 falls into the former as it boasts a handsome look that very few models can match, luxurious interior, and handling characteristics that make you feel like you’re driving a sports car. As for the Tiguan, it falls in the latter camp by offering a spacious interior, smooth ride, and a better infotainment system. I consider these two to be the best-in-class. But deciding which one is better will ultimately come down to deciding whether to give into your wants or needs.
      Disclaimer: Mazda and Volkswagen Provided the vehicles, Insurance, and One Tank of Gas
      Year: 2018
      Make: Mazda
      Model: CX-5
      Trim: Grand Touring AWD
      Engine: 2.5L DOHC 16-Valve Inline-Four
      Driveline: Six-Speed Automatic, All-Wheel Drive
      Horsepower @ RPM: 187 @ 6,000
      Torque @ RPM: 186 @4,000
      Fuel Economy: City/Highway/Combined - 24/30/26
      Curb Weight: N/A
      Location of Manufacture: Hiroshima, Japan
      Base Price: $30,945
      As Tested Price: $34,685 (Includes $975.00 Destination Charge)
      Options:
      Premium Package - $1,395.00
      Soul Red Crystal Paint - $595.00
      Illuminated Door Sill Plates - $400.00
      Retractable Cover Cover - $250.00
      Rear Bumper Guard - $125.00
      Year: 2018
      Make: Volkswagen
      Model: Tiguan
      Trim: SE 4Motion
      Engine: 2.0L Turbocharged 16-Valve DOHC TSI Four-Cylinder
      Driveline: Eight-Speed Automatic, All-Wheel Drive
      Horsepower @ RPM: 184 @ 4,400
      Torque @ RPM: 221 @ 1,600
      Fuel Economy: City/Highway/Combined - 21/27/23
      Curb Weight: 3,858 lbs
      Location of Manufacture: Puebla, Mexico
      Base Price: $30,230
      As Tested Price: $31,575 (Includes $900.00 Destination Charge)
      Options:
      Habanero Orange Metallic - $295.00
      Front Fog Lights - $150.00

      View full article
    • By William Maley
      A few weeks ago, I wrote a comparison test between the 2018 Mazda CX-9 and Volkswagen Atlas. It was a close fight, but the Atlas ended up being the victor as it proved to be the better all-around three-row crossover. I find myself comparing these two brands once again, this time with their compact crossovers. Like their larger brethren, the two models take different approaches. The Mazda CX-5 goes for something that provides a premium feel and exciting drive, while the Volkswagen Tiguan uses space and comfort as its guide. Which one of these crossovers  Which one of these crossovers is right for you?
      Exterior
      Mazda’s design team believed evolution would be the right approach for the second-generation CX-5’s design and we have to agree. Taking the first-generation model, designers added more curves to the body, widened the front grille, and angled the front LED headlights. In what is becoming a very crowded class, the CX-5 stands tall, especially when wearing the optional Soul Red paint.
      Like the Atlas, the Volkswagen Tiguan’s shape can be explained as  “looking like a bit of a square, but a posh square.” Little details such as the three-bar grille, LED daytime-running lights, and slightly bulging fenders help give the Tiguan a touch of class. The optional Habanero Orange Metallic paint color on my test vehicle does show Volkswagen is willing to step outside of its comfort zone. In terms of dimensions, the Tiguan is six inches longer in overall length and rides on a wheelbase that is 3.6-inches longer than the CX-5. 
      Interior
      The Tiguan’s interior follows Volkswagen’s ethos of keeping it functional in terms of the design. It features simple dash and design touches such as a silver finish for various trim pieces. Volkswagen does make up for the boring design with an excellent layout of controls. For example, the climate control system is slightly angled upward to not only make it easier to reach, but also make it less of a hassle to look down and see the current settings. Material quality is average for this type of vehicle with a mix of hard and soft plastics.
      The front seats in the Tiguan SE offer a power recline and manual adjustments for fore/aft and height. I really liked the seats in the Tiguan as they provided excellent comfort and firmness for any trip distance. But the Tiguan really surprises in the back seat with head and legroom similar to what you’ll find on a full-size SUV. Passengers sitting back here can also move the seats back and forth, and recline to make themselves more comfortable. The long length of the Tiguan allows for a third-row seat. The seat is standard on front-wheel drive models and optional for all-wheel drive variants. The third-row should only be used for small kids as there is a minuscule amount of legroom. Another downside to the third-row is cargo space. The third-row causes a significant reduction in cargo space. With the third-row folded, it offers 4.6 cubic feet less than the two-row variant (33 vs. 37.6). Fold the second-row and the reduction becomes larger - 7.8 cubic feet. I would recommend skipping the third-row option if you opt for an AWD Tiguan.
      Like the exterior, the CX-5’s interior stands out. The dash shows Mazda’s effort on trying to make their interiors feel more like a luxury vehicle with sculpted contours, brushed aluminum, soft-touch plastics with a grain texture, and stitching on certain trim pieces. Compared to the Tiguan, the CX-5’s control layout is more spread out, making it somewhat difficult to find and reach certain controls. 
      The Grand Touring tester featured power adjustments for both front seats. The seats will feel a bit too firm for some passengers, but I found them to be just right. It would have been awesome if Mazda provided ventilation for the front seats to bolster their premium ambitions. The CX-5’s back seat offers a decent amount of headroom for those under six-feet. Legroom is somewhat lacking when put against the competition. I found that my knees were almost touching the back side of the front seat. Cargo space is right in the middle with 30.9 cubic feet with the rear seats up and 59.6 when folded.
      Infotainment
      A seven-inch touchscreen featuring the Mazda Connect infotainment system and a rotary knob controller is standard on all CX-5s. Grand Touring models get navigation as standard, while the Touring gets it as an option. Mazda Connect is a mixed bag. The interface is beginning to look somewhat old due to the use of dark colors and a dull screen. Also, trying to figure out which parts of the system are touch-enabled becomes quite tedious as there is no way to tell except through trial and error. There is no Apple CarPlay or Android Auto compatibility, but I’m hoping the 2019 model will get it.
      For the Tiguan, Volkswagen offers three different infotainment systems ranging from 6.5 to 8-inches. Apple CarPlay and Android Auto compatibility come standard. The current Volkswagen infotainment system is one of the best thanks in part to snappy performance and a simple interface. You can do various smartphone gestures such as swiping to move around the system. One disappointment is the lack of any sort of haptic feedback when touching any of the shortcut buttons sitting on either side of the screen. We would also recommend keeping a cloth in the Tiguan as the glass surface for the infotainment system becomes littered with fingerprints.
      Like in the Atlas I reviewed a few weeks ago, the Tiguan experienced an issue with Apple CarPlay. Applications such as Google Music or Spotify running in CarPlay would freeze up. I could exit out to the CarPlay interface, but was unable to unfreeze the applications unless I restarted the vehicle. Resetting my iPhone solved this issue.
      Powertrain
      Under the CX-5’s hood is a 2.5L four-cylinder producing 187 horsepower and 186 pound-feet (up one from the 2017 model). Mazda has added cylinder deactivation for the 2018 model that allows the engine to run on just two cylinders to improve fuel efficiency. This is paired with a six-speed automatic and all-wheel drive. For the Tiguan, Volkswagen has dropped in a turbocharged 2.0L four-cylinder engine producing 184 horsepower and 221 pound-feet of torque. An eight-speed automatic and all-wheel drive complete the package.
      With a higher torque figure and being available between 1,600 to 4,300 rpm, the Tiguan should leave the CX-5 in the dust. But at the stoplight drag race, the CX-5 bests the Tiguan thanks to a sharper throttle response and a steady stream of power. The Tiguan’s turbo-four gets hit with a double-whammy of turbo-lag and a somewhat confused eight-speed automatic transmission, making it feel anything but eager to get off the line. As speeds climb, the story changes. The Tiguan’s engine feels more willing to get moving whenever you need to make a pass or merge onto a freeway. The CX-5’s engine runs out of steam and you’ll need to really work it to get up to speed at a decent rate.
      Fuel Economy
      The EPA says the 2018 Mazda CX-5 AWD will return 24 City/30 Highway/26 Combined, while the 2018 Volkswagen Tiguan AWD returns 21 City/27 Highway/23 Combined. Both models returned high fuel economy averages; the CX-5 return 28.5 while the Tiguan got 27.3 mpg during my week-long test. Both models were driven on mix of 60 percent city and 40 percent highway.
      Ride & Handling
      When I reviewed the 2017 Mazda CX-5, I said that it carried on the mantle of being a fun-to-drive crossover set by the first-generation. Driving on some of the back roads around Detroit, the CX-5 felt very agile and showed little body roll. The steering provides sharp responses and excellent weighting. The sporting edge does mean a firm ride, allowing some road imperfections to come inside. Not much road or wind noise comes inside.
      Volkswagen took a different approach with the Tiguan’s ride and handling characteristics. On rough roads, the Tiguan provides a very cushioned ride on some of the roughest payment. This soft ride does hurt the Tiguan when cornering as there is slightly more body roll. But that doesn’t make the Tiguan a bad driving crossover. The chassis feels very willing when pushed and the steering provides a direct feel.
      Value
      The 2018 Volkswagen Tiguan SE AWD begins at $30,230. This particular tester came to $31,575 with the optional Habanero Orange Metallic and fog lights. But the 2018 Mazda CX-5 Touring comes with more equipment such as radar cruise control, lane departure warning, 19-inch wheels, LED headlights, and power adjustments for the driver for only $2,175 less than the Tiguan SE’s base price. You can add navigation, Bose audio system, and sunroof as part of $1,200 Preferred Equipment package. When it comes to the midlevel, it is no contest as the CX-5 walks away.
      The script flips however when you put the 2018 CX-5 Grand Touring under the microscope. The AWD version begins at $30,945 and with a few options such as the Soul Red paint and Premium package, the vehicle seen here comes to $34,685. But you can get into the Tiguan SEL AWD that adds adaptive cruise control, power liftgate, and navigation for only $2,295 less than our as-tested CX-5. While the CX-5 does offer more of a premium interior, the larger interior and slightly better infotainment system give the Tiguan a slight edge.
      Verdict
      It feels weird to describe the verdict between the two compact crossovers as a decision to satisfy your desires or needs. The 2018 Mazda CX-5 falls into the former as it boasts a handsome look that very few models can match, luxurious interior, and handling characteristics that make you feel like you’re driving a sports car. As for the Tiguan, it falls in the latter camp by offering a spacious interior, smooth ride, and a better infotainment system. I consider these two to be the best-in-class. But deciding which one is better will ultimately come down to deciding whether to give into your wants or needs.
      Disclaimer: Mazda and Volkswagen Provided the vehicles, Insurance, and One Tank of Gas
      Year: 2018
      Make: Mazda
      Model: CX-5
      Trim: Grand Touring AWD
      Engine: 2.5L DOHC 16-Valve Inline-Four
      Driveline: Six-Speed Automatic, All-Wheel Drive
      Horsepower @ RPM: 187 @ 6,000
      Torque @ RPM: 186 @4,000
      Fuel Economy: City/Highway/Combined - 24/30/26
      Curb Weight: N/A
      Location of Manufacture: Hiroshima, Japan
      Base Price: $30,945
      As Tested Price: $34,685 (Includes $975.00 Destination Charge)
      Options:
      Premium Package - $1,395.00
      Soul Red Crystal Paint - $595.00
      Illuminated Door Sill Plates - $400.00
      Retractable Cover Cover - $250.00
      Rear Bumper Guard - $125.00
      Year: 2018
      Make: Volkswagen
      Model: Tiguan
      Trim: SE 4Motion
      Engine: 2.0L Turbocharged 16-Valve DOHC TSI Four-Cylinder
      Driveline: Eight-Speed Automatic, All-Wheel Drive
      Horsepower @ RPM: 184 @ 4,400
      Torque @ RPM: 221 @ 1,600
      Fuel Economy: City/Highway/Combined - 21/27/23
      Curb Weight: 3,858 lbs
      Location of Manufacture: Puebla, Mexico
      Base Price: $30,230
      As Tested Price: $31,575 (Includes $900.00 Destination Charge)
      Options:
      Habanero Orange Metallic - $295.00
      Front Fog Lights - $150.00
    • By William Maley
      Toyota has announced that it will be recalling 1.03 million vehicles worldwide to fix an issue that could start a fire.
      According to Reuters, the problem deals with a wiring harness that connects to the hybrid system's power control unit. Vibrations and accumulating dirt can wear down the wire insulation at the connection point. This will expose the bare wires and possibly cause an electric short - increasing the chances of a fire. Toyota has told the news service they have one report of a vehicle in Japan that went up in smoke.
      The majority of vehicles involved in the recall are located in Japan. In the U.S., around 192,000 examples of the 2016-2018 Toyota Prius are involved. 
      Owners of the affected models will be notified later this month by Toyota. Dealers will inspect the harness in question and, if any wires are exposed, replace it with an updated harness with a protective sleeve, If none of the wires are exposed, dealer technicians will apply a protective coating to the harness.
      Source: Reuters

      View full article
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