So there are car enthusiasts and then there are car enthusiasts; this review is for the latter. There is no mistaking that eco cars and eco driving is a big craze, and with prices for all types of energy steadily rising, more and more people are looking for better ways to save. The Prius has been a huge success for Toyota, and leads the game when it comes to hybrid vehicles. The Prius doesn’t just sell well, it basically outsells almost every other hybrid car on the market combined. How does Toyota plan on capitalizing on this fact? Take the Prius from being one specialized car to an entire lineup.
That’s right, we now have the Prius, the Prius V, and shortly, we’ll see the Prius C hitting showroom floors. You can go back and read what we think about the standard Prius here, and you can also check out our comparison between the Prius Plug-in Hybrid vs. the Chevrolet Volt.
Our tester this week, though, is the Prius V. The “V” stands for versatility and its size shows proof of that. The V sits on an extended wheelbase of the Prius while keeping the same basic hybrid powertrain. The transmission has been tweaked a little to offer up more torque faster to get this bigger, heavier car on the move.
Inside, it’s easy to notice the extra room from the lengthened wheelbase and bigger body. The V offers more headroom as well as leg room over the standard Prius. Open up the rear hatch, and there’s a world of room back there for all kinds of things. It makes you wonder why this car isn’t offered with a 3rd row option. Well, actually it is, in the Japanese and European markets. For America though, Toyota’s market research showed that the extra cost of the smaller batteries needed to fit the 3rd row wasn’t appealing enough to American shoppers. That might be true right now, but soon enough, we’ll have the Ford C-Max that’s going to be offered only as hybrid and electric models, and those should be offered with a 3rd row. I think Toyota might have missed out on an opportunity here, but only time will tell.
One of our biggest complaints with the last Prius we tested was the interior of the car. It’s made of cheap materials to help cut costs, but also to be environmentally friendly. With nicely made and well equipped cars like the Ford Focus and Hyundai Elantra, it seems like a bad decision. Well, the quality of the materials is about the same in the new Prius V, but the instrument panel is rearranged with a new look and some new features.
Our tester was equipped with Toyota’s new Entune system that allows you to connect your phone via Bluetooth and run applications. You can listen to Pandora Radio, iHearRadio, search Bing, and enter addresses into the navigation system. It’s a pretty good system and a big step up from their old one.
You can have the V in a few different packages. This includes the Prius V two, the Prius V three, and the Prius V Five. Don’t ask us how they came up with that, or what happened to one and four. All we know is that our tester was dubbed the Prius V three. This gave us features like the 7” display with the Entune system, but not much else. Step up to the five and you’ll get the panoramic moonroof, led headlights, fog lights, and SofTex-trimmed seats (fake leather). The base price for the Prius V is $26,400. The V three starts out at $27,165 and the five is $29,990.
So with a bigger, heavier body on the same platform, what kind of fuel economy did we see? The official numbers for the Prius V are 44 city and 40 highway. Our average after a week of normal driving in the Prius V was 44.0-mpg, and that’s really pretty good. I maintain though, if this came in a 3-row setup, I think it would be a pretty big hit. For me, I’d just buy the more efficient, smaller Prius and fit the same amount of people unless you haul a bunch of stuff around everyday.