The 2012 Toyota Prius PHV is an all-new variant of the standard Prius.
The greatest threat to the popularity of
electric-only cars is obviously cruising range. Hybrid vehicles rise
above this by combining electric propulsion with good ol'-fashioned
internal combustion engines, but this still means that drivers are
going to be using gasoline at some point. The 2012 Toyota Prius PHV
(plug-in hybrid vehicle) minimizes fuel consumption over conventional
Prii by finding a middle ground.
The Prius PHV is essentially a standard Prius with a bigger and more efficient battery system. In a recent Edmunds test of a Prius PHV prototype, this setup allowed for electric-only operation up to 60 mph and a maximum range of about 13 miles. Exceed either of these parameters and the gasoline engine kicks in to assist with power and charge the batteries. For drivers who are able to remain in electric mode, battery charging is mercifully quick. When connected to a 240-volt unit, a full charge is estimated at only 90 minutes. A standard 120-volt household charge will take 3 hours.Body Styles, Trim Levels, and Options
The 2012 Toyota Prius Plug-In is available in Base and Advanced body styles.
Standard equipment on the base model includes 15-inch alloy wheels, automatic headlights, LED taillights, keyless entry/ignition, cruise control, full power accessories, a tilt-and-telescoping steering wheel, a height-adjustable driver seat, automatic climate control, heated front seats, a 60/40 split fold-down rear seat, Bluetooth (phone and audio streaming), a back-up camera, a navigation system, voice recognition and a six-speaker sound system featuring a touchscreen display, a CD player, an auxiliary audio jack, an iPod/USB interface and satellite and HD radio. Toyota's new Entune smartphone and Web integration system is also standard.
The Prius Plug-In Advanced adds automatic LED headlights, foglamps, unique exterior styling treatment, adaptive cruise control, upgraded seat upholstery, an eight-way power driver seat (with power lumbar), an auto-dimming rearview mirror, a head-up display, more Entune capabilities and a premium eight-speaker JBL sound system with a larger touchscreen display.
Powertrains and Performance
The 2012 Toyota Prius Plug-In is powered by a 1.8-liter four-cylinder engine combined with a pair of electric motor/generators. Together they send a total 134 horsepower to the front wheels through a specialized continuously variable transmission (CVT). The battery pack features advanced lithium-ion technology and has more capacity (4.4 kWh) than that in the regular Prius', though total capacity is still much less than that of the Volt and Nissan Leaf.
In Edmunds testing, a prototype Prius Plug-In accelerated from zero to 60 mph in 10.1 seconds, the same time as the regular Prius. Toyota says the Prius Plug-In will achieve 49 highway mpg and drive up to 15 miles on battery power alone.
Every 2012 Toyota Prius Plug-In Hybrid comes with antilock disc brakes, stability and traction control, front side airbags, a driver knee airbag, full-length side curtain airbags and hill start assist. The Advanced has an additional pre-collision warning system.
In Edmunds brake testing, a prototype Prius Plug-In stopped from 60 mph in
130 feet, an average result for the class and 12 feet short of the conventional
(and lighter) Prius hybrid.
Interior Design and Special Features
The 2012 Toyota Prius Plug-In features straightforward climate and audio controls that arc out toward the driver in a "floating console" configuration that offers a storage space underneath. It's a slightly futuristic design that also serves to maximize cabin space. The digital instrument panel also features a floating layer that displays audio, temperature and trip computer information when the driver touches those controls on the steering wheel, minimizing eye movement. Some drivers might find the overall design a bit too busy-looking, however.
New for 2012 is Toyota's new Entune suite of smartphone-connected services that includes features like the Bing search engine, Pandora streaming radio, real-time traffic, sports and stock information, and the ability to reserve movie tickets or a table at a restaurant on the go.