2012 Toyota Prius

Toyota has announced updates to its best-selling Prius line for next year, including a moderate uptick in price. The 2012 Prius will have subtly restyled tail lamps, wheel covers and front fascia, as well as standard LED daytime running lights with an on/off switch. On the inside, the car will now include a standard 6.1-inch screen accessing an updated Multi-Information Display system. The five available Prius models will sell for between 2 percent and 4.3 percent higher than 2011’s editions, not including a $760 destination charge.

The Prius One―which is now only available to fleets―will increase $895, to $23,015; the Prius Two will increase $480, to $24,000; the Prius Three will increase $1,045, to $25,565; the Prius Four will increase $915, to $28,235; while the most recent generation of Prius, the Prius Five will experience an MSRP increase of $1,015, to $29,805.

The Prius Three, whose price will increase the most for next year, will be getting a host of new standard features to justify the extra expense, including Toyota’s Entune audio system, navigation, backup camera display, and Smart Key. The Prius Four will be getting an improved audio system and refined seating, including a power adjustable driver’s seat.

Toyota Head-Up Display

Toyota’s new Head-Up Display option.

Perhaps the most interesting change Toyota has in store for 2012 will be the newly-optional Head-Up Display, which projects information like speed, navigation details and hybrid efficiency onto the windshield for easy visual access. The system―the concept for which originates with jet fighters―has the potential to improve safety by keeping the driver’s eyes on the road instead of the increasingly complex dashboard and console displays in modern vehicles. It will be interesting to see whether the feature catches on, and whether it evolves to potentially replace other center console functions in future vehicles.