2012 Prius V
by John Davis
You would have to be living under a rock not to know that the most popular hybrid vehicle in America is the Toyota Prius. Over a million Prius have been sold in America since it first arrived here for 2001. This enviable record has now prompted Toyota to expand the Prius lineup into multiple models, or as their fans have dictated a family of Prii. The first new Prii family member is a mid-size, station wagon-style car known as the Prius V. While Toyota and its fans might prefer to describe the Prius V as a front-wheel drive crossover vehicle, no one disputes that “V” stands “versatility.”
The Prius V is 6 inches longer, 3.3 inches taller, and 1.1 inches wider than the Prius hatchback hybrid. That translates into 3.5 cubic feet more passenger space and 12.7 cubic feet additional cargo room with all seats in use. That’s a gain of almost 60%. Plus, the Prius V’s rear seat is a model of flexibility as it folds, slides, as well as reclines. With the rear seatbacks folded, the Prius V has a total cargo volume of 67.3 cubic feet, or only slightly less than a Toyota RAV-4.
The Prius V shares the same full-hybrid drive train as the current third generation Prius hatchback. Primary power is always provided by its 1.8-liter Atkinson-cycle inline-4 gasoline engine, rated at 98 horsepower. Toyota’s latest Hybrid Synergy Drive electric motor bumps total horsepower to 134 horses. While the Prius V can run on electric power alone, it only does so at low speeds, less than 20 miles per hour, and only for about a mile.
Still, fuel economy is outstanding, even if it does take a hit from the extra 200 plus pounds of curb weight of the “V” compared to the Prius hatchback. The Prius V has a combined EPA mileage number of 42 MPG. That’s down from 50 MPG for the standard Prius. Still, no wagon or crossover can beat the fuel economy rating of the Prius V.
While many features of the Prius V mimic the smaller hatchback hybrid, like the available radar cruise control, it does have its own series of accomplishments. For one, the optional panoramic moonroof is made, not of glass, but of clear polycarbonate. That switch saves 50% of the moonroof’s weight without hampering the wide-sky view. A roll-type sunshade helps lower the sunburn risk, while maintaining adequate front and rear head room.
Also, the Prius V is available with Toyota’s new Safety Connect telematics system. Safety Connect provides automatic crash notification when airbags deploy, gives authorities stolen vehicle location by GPS, and can be used to summon 24-hour roadside assistance.
If you’ve been thinking about a Toyota Prius hybrid, but held back waiting for something just a bit bigger and more versatile, the 2012 Prius V will arrive in Toyota showrooms this fall.
For more of the larger than ever details of the 2012 Toyota Prius V hybrid, be sure to catch MotorWeek’s in-depth Road Test on episode #3042 which begins airing on public television stations June 25th. MotorWeek is broadcast on PBS television stations nationwide, and on HD Theater where high definition cable and satellite service is available. Full episodes of MotorWeek can also be viewed at www.pbs.org.