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2012 Toyota Prius Interior Review

Note: This interior review was created when the 2012 Toyota Prius was new.


Interior: 7.5

Even the base 2012 Toyota Prius is full of high-tech features, including Bluetooth and a USB port. Most automotive journalists like the interior materials quality and ergonomics, though a few mention that they are disappointed with some subpar materials. They approve of the Prius’ roomy and comfortable seats and love its massive cargo area, which rivals the cargo space found in a compact SUV.

  • "Materials quality in the Prius Plug-In is disappointing, however, with harder and cheaper plastics than other cars in its price range. We'll cut the Prius a small measure of slack, as the plastic material is plant-derived and uses less petroleum in the production process. For many buyers, however, that concession to eco-consciousness won't cut it against others with nicer interiors." -- Edmunds
  • "Cabin ergonomics and the displays that monitor the activities of the Hybrid Synergy Drive system are top-notch." -- Automobile Magazine
  • "Automotive journalists often struggle to describe how one interior feels more upscale than another, or how one type of plastic can feel cheap and another won't - these things just are. With the Prius, Toyota made a number of good choices on both materials and eye-pleasing color combinations." -- Cars.com
  • "The Prius is also a nicer place to spend time, with more room in the rear seat for big boys and girls, nicer materials and a lot of fancy tech features that are fun to use." -- Jalopnik


Reviewers say that the seats in the Prius are comfortable and roomy, even in the back. One reviewer notes that the steering wheel doesn’t telescope far enough, which is a negative for tall drivers.

The base Prius Plug-in comes standard with heated fabric seats, while the regular Prius has non-heated fabric seats standard. The Prius Four and Five get heated front seats with power lumbar support.

  • "Even with the base model's fabric seats, there's plenty of cushioning on the bottom and plenty of support for the back. The leather seats in the top two trim levels are quite nice, and they definitely up the ante in terms of luxury." -- Cars.com
  • “Taller drivers will still have to contend with a steering wheel that's placed too far away, despite a telescoping column, as it doesn't extend nearly far enough." -- Edmunds
  • "The appropriately painted ‘sandy beach metallic’ Prius passed our rear-seat test with ease -- a 6-foot person can sit behind a 6-foot driver." -- MarketWatch

Interior Features

The base 2012 Prius has auxiliary and USB audio jacks, Bluetooth, push-button start and Smart Key, which unlocks the car without a traditional key. See the full list of 2012 Toyota Prius specs.

The Prius has one interior feature, a Touch Tracer display, which is unique to the class and well-liked by the industry. The Touch Tracer display is a series of touch sensors on the steering wheel that allow drivers to select audio controls or trip display without taking their eyes off the road.

Test drivers have a few complaints with the navigation system, which some found difficult to use and hard to read. Overall, they like that the Prius’ controls are easy to use and that its interior materials are mostly high-quality.

  • "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." -- Edmunds
  • "The steering wheel has touch-sensitive audio and climate controls that display a replica of the actual controls and highlight the driver's choices in the instrument display. Toyota calls it Touch Tracer, claiming it helps drivers keep their eyes on the road." -- Cars.com
  • "Nits include a navigation system that tried to guess (incorrectly) what you wanted before you completed typing it in. Also it flubbed finding our first hotel, thus giving us a fine tour of Florence, S.C., and did not easily dim for night driving. The remaining controls were easy to reach and figure out. Fit and finish were excellent inside and out, but for the price some softer surfaces here and there would have been a nice touch." -- MarketWatch


The Prius’ trunk is large for a hybrid car. At 21.6 cubic feet, the Prius’ trunk rivals the amount of cargo space found in a compact SUV. By comparison, the Honda Insight’s trunk can hold 15.9 cubic feet of stuff, while the Chevrolet Volt can only accommodate 10.6. There are also plenty of interior cubbies in the Prius for storing personal odds and ends.

  • “There is room for five and plenty of storage in back. Try putting as much into any other plug-in hybrid on the market, like the Volt or - ha! - the Fisker Karma." -- Autoblog
  • "The Prius is still a versatility champ, though. The hatchback body style provides 21.6 cubic feet of cargo volume with the rear seats up, and rear seat passengers will enjoy plenty of legroom." -- Edmunds

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