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Review of 2012 Prius Four with Solar Roof Package, and 2012 Prius hatchback in general

Discussion in 'Gen III 2010+ Prius Main Forum' started by Matt M., Mar 7, 2012.

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  1. Matt M.

    Matt M. Member

    Joined:
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    Location:
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    Your Vehicle Year:
    2012 Prius
    Model:
    Four
    [FONT=&quot]Review of 2012 Prius Four with Solar Roof Package (HDD Premium Navigation system with JBL), and 2012 Prius hatchback in general[/FONT]
    [FONT=&quot] [/FONT]

    [FONT=&quot] [/FONT]
    [FONT=&quot]For background, I’m a mid-40s engineer who has previously owned many different cars, all of which were stick shifts and all except my first car were sports cars or sporty cars. My last two cars were a Subaru Legacy turbo wagon (250 HP, 0-60 in under 6 seconds) and an Acura Integra GS-R (sporty version of the Integra). But I decided it was time for something different when I bought the Prius, and I drive about 300 miles a week so I was drawn to the high mileage. (My Subaru is a really fun car to drive, but gets about 23 MPG on average.)[/FONT]
    [FONT=&quot] [/FONT]
    [FONT=&quot]I bought the Prius on Saturday so I’ve had it for 4 days now, and overall I love the car! I was nervous that I would really miss the power of my Subaru, but I really don’t. And the car seems so well engineered and well built, and has so many fun things to play with (nav, audio system, hybrid displays) that it keeps me busy and happy. (Yes, I am making sure not to get TOO distracted with gadgets while I’m driving. ;-) And while it’s not a sports car, I find it very pleasant and easy to drive.[/FONT]
    [FONT=&quot] [/FONT]
    [FONT=&quot]I’m one of the many who bought my car from Dianne Whitmire (Priuschat member) at Carson Toyota in Southern California. It was a great buying experience. I emailed her, she had the exact car I wanted (which other dealerships had told me there are only about 3 of in all of California), then talked to her on the phone and got a quote, told her I’ll take it, made arrangements to fly down there (from the San Francisco area), arrived a couple of days later and got the car for the agreed-upon price, and the car was there waiting for me and ready to go. No problems. Thanks, Dianne! I recommend to anyone in California to get a quote and consider buying from her, it will be hassle-free.[/FONT]
    [FONT=&quot] [/FONT]
    [FONT=&quot]Getting into some detailed observations about the car, in no particular order…[/FONT]
    [FONT=&quot] [/FONT]
    [FONT=&quot]- The size of the car is just perfect for what I want. It’s not bigger than I need, but it’s not cramped either. Plenty of interior space for 4 normal adults to be very comfortable.[/FONT]
    [FONT=&quot] [/FONT]
    [FONT=&quot]- Handling and general driving feel is pretty good. It’s a nice, small-ish car. After being used to cars with very stiff suspensions, I seriously considered getting the plus performance package, but after several test drives decided that the normal Prius suspension actually isn’t that bad, so it’s not worth spending $3k+ more for the plus package. The weakest point is probably steering, it tends to wander a little bit, but it’s not so bad that it really bothers me. Overall I enjoy driving the car. I’ve been very unhappy with other Toyota’s I’ve test driven in the past (Sienna, Camry) because the suspensions tend to be so soft and steering so loose, but the Prius is definitely better – to me, it drives more like a Honda than a Toyota, which is a good thing.[/FONT]
    [FONT=&quot] [/FONT]
    [FONT=&quot]- Visibility while driving is generally pretty good. I really like the visibility to the sides, I feel like the blind spots are very small on this car. Visibility to the rear is OK, partly blocked by the horizontal bar on the hatchback that many people have mentioned. I’ve found that it doesn’t bother me during the day because you see the cars behind you above and/or below the bar. But at night occasionally a car will be at just the right height and distance that the hatchback bar blocks the car’s headlights and I can’t see where the car behind me is. But, it hasn’t been a big problem.[/FONT]
    [FONT=&quot] [/FONT]
    [FONT=&quot]- Noise level while driving isn’t too bad, in my opinion. If you floor the gas pedal, then yes, the engine noise is extremely loud. But when I’ve been driving, it’s very rare for me to floor it. So for normal driving, I find the engine noise and road noise (including on the freeway) to be reasonable. It’s not a super-quiet car inside, but not excessively noisy either.[/FONT]
    [FONT=&quot] [/FONT]
    [FONT=&quot]- Regarding the big question mark, mileage… it’s been great from the beginning! I have to admit I’ve been looking at the hybrid status indicator a lot and driving very gently. But on my first drive, when I took the car home from L.A. to San Francisco, including 30 minutes of slow traffic in L.A. and climbing up and over the Grapevine (4000 foot peak), the car’s trip meter showed 46.3 MPG, and when I filled up the tank near home I calculated 45.3 MPG. For most of the drive, on I-5, I varied between ~65 and 75 MPH. Anyway, I made that entire ~400 mile drive on one tank and still had 90 miles of range left! Resetting the trip meter, on my first round-trip drive to work and back home, about 55 miles total, the meter showed 53 MPG average. That’s for a drive that is mostly on the freeway, but including a good part of the drive in bumper-to-bumper traffic. The next day after another round trip it had dropped to around 50.5 MPG, but, I’m definitely getting close to 50 MPG in general driving. I’m happy with that! (This is all in normal – not Eco or Power – mode.)[/FONT]
    [FONT=&quot] [/FONT]
    [FONT=&quot]It’s funny, there are a lot of factors in this car that make you (or me, at least) tend to drive gently and get higher MPG. First, you’re presented with so much information – the hybrid status indicator, the instantaneous MPG meter, the average MPG on the trip meter, and if you select it the average-MPG-every-5-minutes bar graph (which, by the way, you can switch to average-every-1-minute if you want to). So if you drive too aggressively, your lower MPG will really be in your face. In addition to that, it seems like the gas pedal is programmed in a way that you have to press the pedal down a longer distance to get the same power as in other cars – again, I think, to make sure you are aware of how much more power you’re demanding (and therefore how much gas you’re using). You really have to press the pedal down a good distance when you start climbing even a slight hill, so, I’ve been much more aware of the rolling hills on part of my commute than I was in my Subaru. By the way, I’ve been getting good MPG, and decent response from the pedal, in the normal driving mode, so I haven’t tried Eco or Power mode at all – I just haven’t had any reason to.[/FONT]
    [FONT=&quot] [/FONT]
    [FONT=&quot]- The backup camera works fine, and has a nice sharp picture. I’m not sure it’s really necessary, but since it’s there, I’ve been using it a lot of the time.[/FONT]
    [FONT=&quot] [/FONT]
    [FONT=&quot]- Haven’t even used cruise control yet, but I would assume it works fine. I didn’t want to use it on the drive after I picked up the car in L.A. because of break-in recommendations, and on my commute I can never use it due to traffic conditions.[/FONT]
    [FONT=&quot] [/FONT]
    [FONT=&quot]- “B†mode (engine braking) works well. I don’t use it a lot, but on one long, fairly steep hill on my commute I’ve been using it and I don’t have to brake. It has a very similar effect on the car’s speed to our Honda Odyssey van when I press the overdrive button to force the van to downshift one gear.[/FONT]
    [FONT=&quot]
    - I haven’t fiddled around with the climate control much at all, but I’ve been comfortable while driving so it must be working well. ;-) I’ve been leaving it in manual mode, since auto turns up the fan speed higher than I want, and adjusting the temperature and occasionally turning the A/C on or off as appropriate. I haven’t even tried the remote A/C yet, it hasn’t been hot enough.[/FONT]

    [FONT=&quot]
    - I haven’t used the navigation system a whole lot, but for the few times I’ve used it, it seems to work fine. Definitely much better in many ways than the nav built into our 2008 Honda Odyssey minivan. The voice that speaks the directions sounds very good, more natural than other navs that I’ve heard previously, and does a good job pronouncing street names. The routings the nav chooses seem reasonable. The on-screen graphics are pretty good, and clear. I like the XM Traffic information, I will probably subscribe to that after the trial period ends – it seems to be reasonably accurate (speed colors have roughly matched the traffic I’m in when I drive around). The LCD looks nice, seems reasonably high resolution and is easy to read. Being able to split the LCD screen between map and audio or other information is nice, though I find when you do that it makes the map so small that it’s not all that useful.[/FONT]

    [FONT=&quot] [/FONT]
    [FONT=&quot]- I like the JBL audio system. In fact, I think the sound of the system is quite good. Not as good as a nice aftermarket system I’m sure, but I’m very happy with it. (I listen to mostly 80s and 90s rock and some top 40.) On my drive from L.A. to San Francisco I listened to loud music the whole way, half iPod and half XM radio, and thought it sounded very good. Also more recently I’ve spent some time listening to FM HD radio, and I think that sounds really good too, though sometimes stations will annoyingly cut in and out between analog and digital if they’re kind of weak. The iPod (USB) interface is pretty good, and one thing I was very happy to see is that the iPod interface lets you play not only music but both audio and video podcasts, which I listen to sometimes. Controlling the music selection on the iPod and connecting to the Prius audio via Bluetooth instead of USB worked well too. I was surprised to find out that the LCD nav/audio system is actually a DVD video player – but you can only see the video on the car’s LCD when the car is parked, so it seems pretty useless, I’m not even sure why they made it DVD-compatible. Well, I guess it can’t hurt, even if I never use it.[/FONT]
    [FONT=&quot] [/FONT]
    [FONT=&quot]- When the sun shines on the nav/audio LCD screen, it’s pretty much impossible to see what’s on the screen. But of course, this is true of pretty much every car LCD screen.[/FONT]
    [FONT=&quot] [/FONT]
    [FONT=&quot]- Regarding the voice commands on the “premium HDD navigation†system, they work OK. I’m kind of disappointed that the available commands are so limited – you can control maybe 20 basic functions with them. This is in contrast to our Honda Odyssey, where literally –every- function and setting for nav, audio and climate control that you can control with the touch screen or a button has an associated voice command. On the other hand, a few of the available voice commands are extremely flexible, like being able to say “find nearest Walgreens†or (when your iPod is connected) “play artist Lady Gaga†or “play album Dark Side of the Moonâ€. I haven’t used those commands a lot, but the few times I tried them they got what I said correct every time. But there are a few things I really wish you could do with voice commands that it seems like you can’t, such as ontrolling the radio (AM/FM/XM) presets or switching the LCD to map, audio screen, etc.[/FONT]
    [FONT=&quot] [/FONT]
    [FONT=&quot]- The technical displays showing bar graphs of MPG, graphics with the ICE, electric motor and battery, etc., on both the monochrome display up by the windshield and the LCD nav/audio display are fun to play with and look at. I really like how each time you turn the car off, the display shows minutes, miles driven and average MPG for that trip (since you turned the car on).[/FONT]
    [FONT=&quot] [/FONT]
    [FONT=&quot]- I’m using the HUD much more than I thought I would. During test drives I didn’t find it to be very visible and pretty much ignored it. I suspected I wouldn’t use it, might even turn it off, but since buying the car I find myself looking at it a lot, both for the speedometer and the hybrid system indicator (power bar), trying not to use too much gas. I like it! It’s very visible at night, and not too bad during the day. One trick I found from reading the manual is if you make it as bright as possible, and then hold down the button that makes it brighter for a couple of seconds, it will get a little bit extra-bright.[/FONT]
    [FONT=&quot] [/FONT]
    [FONT=&quot]- Sound quality on the hands-free (for cell phones) is good, definitely better than our 2008 Honda Odyssey. I’ve found it quite usable for long conversations even on the freeway. Unfortunately I haven’t been able to get it to transfer contacts from my phone (see below), but that’s not too much of a problem because once you pair your phone, you can simply pick up the phone and dial (using speed dial, or whatever), and once the call connects the car’s speakerphone activates automatically. FYI, my current phone is a Nokia 6700 Classic (non-smartphone).[/FONT]
    [FONT=&quot] [/FONT]
    [FONT=&quot]- I can’t say anything about Entune, since I don’t have a smartphone.[/FONT]
    [FONT=&quot] [/FONT]
    [FONT=&quot]- I really like the power driver’s seat adjustments. I find the driver’s seat to be pretty comfortable.[/FONT]
    [FONT=&quot] [/FONT]
    [FONT=&quot]- I also really like having auto up and down on all 4 windows.[/FONT]
    [FONT=&quot] [/FONT]
    [FONT=&quot]- I’m happy with the nautical blue metallic exterior and dark gray interior combination. I really like the way the blue exterior looks, and the paint finish seems to be high quality (it feels very smooth).[/FONT]
    [FONT=&quot] [/FONT]
    [FONT=&quot]- The Softex looks and feels nice. I guess time will tell how durable it is.[/FONT]
    [FONT=&quot] [/FONT]
    [FONT=&quot]- I like the sun roof, and think it was worth having. Also, a couple of times I’ve gotten in the car after being parked in the sun and I could feel air coming out of the vents, so obviously the solar ventilation is working. It hasn’t been that hot outside, but, I assume it’s helping to keep the inside of the car cooler than it would be otherwise.[/FONT]
    [FONT=&quot] [/FONT]
    [FONT=&quot]- I love the smart key! It’s so great never having to take it out of my pocket, being able to unlock and lock the car so easily. And nice that (according to the manual, at least) even if the battery in the smart key dies you can touch the key to the start button and still start the car.[/FONT]
    [FONT=&quot] [/FONT]
    [FONT=&quot]- I think many cars have this these days, but, I like being able to customize certain features, like how long the interior light stays on when you turn the car off at night, how long the headlights stay on when you get out of the car, and how loud the beeps are when you unlock and lock the car.[/FONT]
    [FONT=&quot] [/FONT]
    [FONT=&quot]- General storage inside the car is good. The cup holders in the front center are convenient. The space underneath the center arch is also convenient for putting down a cell phone being charged, or my sunglasses. And the 2 glove compartments and large center armrest have plenty of space. The rear cargo area just fits my hockey equipment bag, with a few inches to spare.[/FONT]
    [FONT=&quot] [/FONT]
    [FONT=&quot]- Regarding the vehicle proximity warning noise, or whatever they call it, that was added for 2012 so you don’t run over pedestrians… I don’t hear it inside the car, so, what do I care? ;-) But seriously, I don’t think the volume is loud enough to be annoying outside the car.[/FONT]
    [FONT=&quot]
    My few, minor annoyances so far:[/FONT]

    [FONT=&quot] [/FONT]
    [FONT=&quot]1) When you connect an iPod via USB, and go to the “iPod†tab on the audio screen, you can play music from the iPod. There is also a “Browse†button, which brings up a bunch of tabs such as “Playlistsâ€, “Artistsâ€, “Albumsâ€, “Podcastsâ€, etc. When I got to “Playlistsâ€, it lists all of the playlists I have on my iPod, but it doesn’t show the folders that I have them organized into. I have about 100 playlists (generally 1 playlist per album), and I have them organized into folders like “classical albumsâ€, “rock albumsâ€, etc. But the Prius audio doesn’t see those folders and just lists –all- of my playlists on the screen, which makes it harder to find things. Not a big deal, but a little annoying.[/FONT]
    [FONT=&quot] [/FONT]
    [FONT=&quot]2) I have not been able to transfer contacts from my Nokia 6700 Classic cell phone. And not only that, I can’t create new contacts using the Prius LCD interface either. So when using my cell phone, the ONLY ways I can make a call are to call by phone number (enter on touch screen, or voice command), or dial using the phone itself. I really don’t understand this. I paired my wife’s Motorola Krzr K1 and was able to transfer contacts and also create new contacts on the Prius LCD, but with my Nokia it just won’t do it. Well, I’m getting a new phone next week so it may become moot, but the new phone is another Nokia non-smartphone, so, hopefully I won’t have the same problem![/FONT]
    [FONT=&quot] [/FONT]
    [FONT=&quot]3) When you have an iPod connected via USB, and go to “Browse†and then go to “Video†and select a video to play, you’ll hear the sound from the video but the Prius LCD shows a cryptic message to the effect of “cannot display due to no audio/video cable connected†or something like that. I did some searching on the web and found a place on the Toyota web site that said something about connecting a customer-supplied video cable to watch iPod video. But I finally found in the Prius manual where it says that you can only listen to audio from iPod videos, you can’t see the video, and Dianne told me the same thing. So the message you see on the Prius LCD, and the page I found on the Toyota web site, are very misleading. Oh well.[/FONT]
    [FONT=&quot] [/FONT]
    [FONT=&quot]4) As I wrote above, I wish you could control more functions of the nav and audio system with voice commands.[/FONT]
    6 people like this.
  2. skm009

    skm009 Member

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    Your Vehicle Year:
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    Model:
    III
    Thanks for taking the time to write. Congratulations! I am sure you will enjoy the car even more after a few years with it.
  3. Matt M.

    Matt M. Member

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    Model:
    Four
    After a few more weeks, I'm still enjoying the car! Still annoyed about not being able to use contacts with my Nokia 300 phone, and still annoyed about the incredibly limited voice command system. But, love the car overall. I'm keeping my fingers crossed that my 4th fill-up in a day or two I'll break 50 MPG for the first time (trip meter is showing ~53.5).
  4. d2mini

    d2mini Active Member

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    Model:
    Five
    The opening post is exactly why I'm here, as a newbie who doesn't own one yet (and can't find a Five), and trying to make an informed decision from hearing real world experiences, not test track data. Thanks for the post.
  5. withspirit

    withspirit New Member

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    2012 Prius
    Model:
    Four
    Matt, I have chosen your thread in which to make my first post. I appreciate the great write-up you did for your Prius 4. It helps me as a newbie to figure out my awesome new car! Thanks very much!
  6. Matt M.

    Matt M. Member

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    To d2mini and withspirit - thanks for the comments, I'm glad you found my review useful!
  7. alphac2005

    alphac2005 New Member

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    Three
    Matt,

    Thanks for the very detailed review as my wife and I are going to purchase our first Prius this week.
  8. NYPrius1

    NYPrius1 Active Member

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    Welcome to PC!~ Best Of Luck with Your New Ride.
  9. jdcowboy

    jdcowboy New Member

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    Model:
    IV
    [FONT=&quot]Thanks, Matt. I, too, just got a new model 4 with the solar panel. Hard to justify the cost difference between a model 4 with the solar package and without, but I love sunroofs and liked the HD NAV. [/FONT]

    I decided to scale back and downsize after driving much nicer cars--BMW, MBZ, Lexus--and wanted the higher gas milage of the Prius. The ride is not bad for a Toyota. Must admit, my wife's 08 RX350 felt downright powerful after driving the Prius. But, I knew the Prius wasn't fast when I bought it and am fine with the limited power. I live in SoCal and its helped me slow down so I now only drive 5 mph over the speed limit instead of 10! Amazing to me that I am still passing some people, but that's another issue. I am also amazed at how indifferent people are to the Prius, as in ignoring it on the freeways. People drive like the car is not there.

    The cell phone interface is easy to use, but it does not work with all phones. My iPhone has too many contacts to load all of them (yes, I have 2500 contacts from the office). I found I could create a favorites list on the iPhone and only load that list, which was much more manageable.

    The voice controls are much more user friendly than my wife's 08 Lexus or my 08 BMW. Probably as good and easy to use as my '10 MBZ was. I have used the voice controls for the NAV several times in the two weeks I've had the car and they work great.

    In terms of milage, I recorded a trip of 67.9 mpg for a 35 mile trip down PCH to Santa Monica yesterday! Overall, I'm getting just under 50 mpg according to the car's calculations but 2-4 mpg less in actual calculations.
  10. RaZa

    RaZa Member

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  11. Tideland Prius

    Tideland Prius Moderator of the North Staff Member

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    If it disrupts the flow of the thread, why not?
  12. RaZa

    RaZa Member

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  13. civicdriver06

    civicdriver06 Member

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    Other Non-Hybrid
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    Are you now again able to change climate-settings via voice control on the 2012 Prius ?
    It wasn´t possible on the 2010 .
  14. yeldogt

    yeldogt Member

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    Five
    I have "loaned" my 11 five to a few friends that have been thinking about getting a Prius -- I drove the 11 on three extended test drives before I bought it ... renting an earlier version stopped me from the purchase.


    You have to have everyone that is going to spend any time in the car take it for a test drive. Some like it others don't ..... it depends on current car and miles driven -- those with smaller Japanese cars are not as surprised ........ many don't love the car on the highway.

    It is important to get a good picture prior to the purchase --
  15. Matt M.

    Matt M. Member

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    Regarding voice commands, no as far as I can tell they are very limited and don't include anything related to climate control. However you do have temperature setting up/down buttons and a recirculate-on/off button on the steering wheel which are very convenient.
  16. d2mini

    d2mini Active Member

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    Forums like this are free to use (a real bargain considering what you get out of it) and this gives the owners and moderators the freedom to run the site however they want with no explanation needed to be given to you or anyone else. Now if you want to start paying for all their time and hard work, that might be a different story. But if not, I suggest you get used to it or leave and find someplace you will be happy. Just sayin.

    As to the posts that were deleted, I fully agree with that move. They did not add anything positive to the thread.
  17. Tideland Prius

    Tideland Prius Moderator of the North Staff Member

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    First of all, you shouldn't go around accusing who deleted your thread. There are 5 of us, don't assume it's me.

    Also, how is this overmoderated? I think Danny's pretty lenient compared to other forums that I browse and certainly the level of intelligence that PC members demonstrate definitely help.

    I'm sorry you feel trapped and regulated.
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