Toyota Prius V, 2012: Family wagon boasts best crossover hybrid mpg

Toyota introduces the 2012 Prius V to the growing family of Prius models. Additionally, a compact version and a plug-in model are scheduled for release later in 2012. Defying classification, the Prius V blends the space and utility of a family wagon, small crossover, and SUV into a vehicle easy on the environment and capable of getting better than 40 mpg. Our week with the Prius V and several hundred miles rewarded me with 41 mpg overall.

Fuel economy numbers are very good and Toyota claims the Prius V has the best fuel economy rating than any SUV, crossover, or wagon on the market. What they do not mention is the agonizingly long wait for the Prius V to attain freeway speeds and the sound of the hybrid system straining under the demand of your right foot.

2012 Toyota Prius V

Officially, the Prius V can achieve 0-60 mph in 10.4 seconds. On paper 10.4 seconds isn’t all bad. If you take the Prius V off the test track and onto a freeway onramp during rush hour, then 11 seconds seems like an eternity. It could be next week before the V attains freeway speed if you add a passenger or two, some cargo, and a stiff headwind.

A VW Jetta Sportwagen TDI is rated at 42 mpg on the freeway, has less horsepower, and can roll from 0-60 mph in 7.9 seconds. Fill the Sportwagen to capacity and performance is barely affected with the assistance of the turbodiesel’s 236 lb.-ft. of torque on demand.

Our family recently purchased a 2011 Prius, so a few comparisons are inevitable. Aside from the size difference, there are noticeable differences with the interior design. The center console of the V has a better design than the 3rd generation Prius; it allows driver and front passenger more width to relax their legs and the EV/ECO/PWR buttons are more visible and accessible to the driver.

Prius V interior

The over-active power distribution displays are gone, leaving a much simpler display that is informative, but less distracting to the driver. The center information display still coaxes the driver to drive economically and is a constant reminder of the engine working overtime to achieve cruising speed.

Not quite as aerodynamic as the existing Prius model, the Prius V nonetheless has a low 0.29 coefficient of drag. The Prius V is larger in all dimensions versus the 2011 Prius. The Prius V rides on a 109.4-inch wheelbase compared to a 106.3-inch wheelbase in the conventional Prius; overall length of the Prius V is 181.7 inches versus 175.6 inches in the conventional Prius. The Prius V is also taller with a height of 62 inches compared to the 58.7 inch height of the third generation Prius.

All these numbers add up to more headroom, more legroom for the backseat passengers, and 34 cubic feet of cargo space. Fold the rear seats down and total cargo spaces increases to 67 cubic feet. Conversely, the 2011 Prius has 21.6 cubic feet of cargo space behind the rear seat and a maximum cargo capacity of 39.6 cubic feet with the rear seats folded.

Mountain bikes can fit upright with the seatpost/saddle removed

Like the current generation Prius, the Prius V has four driving modes (Normal, Power, Eco and EV); a smart key system with push-button start; an electronic shift lever; hill assist control, a back-up camera, and seven airbags—all as standard equipment. Available options include energy-efficient LED headlamps; dynamic radar cruise control with a pre-collision system; and a parking guidance system.

The Prius V adds a couple of nifty features, such as a panoramic moonroof and Toyota's new Entune multimedia system.

Young, eco-minded couples, small families, and dad looking to avoid the stigma of a minivan now have a green choice for a family-mobile. The Prius V offers the space of a crossover and all the benefits of a hybrid. Performance may be more suited for grandpa, but you can smile whenever you visit the gas pump.

2012 Toyota Prius V Three:

Engine: 134 hybrid system net hp (100kW)
Engine Torque: 105 lb.-ft. @ 4000 rpm
Electric Motor: 80 hp
Electric Motor Torque: 153 lb.-ft. torque
Transmission: Electronically controlled CVT
EPA Fuel Economy: 44/40 mpg city/hwy
MSRP: $27,165
0 – 60 mph: 10.4 seconds (source: zeroto60times.com)

 

 

2 comments

  1. Thanks for the review. I have been considering the Prius V over the Subaru Outback mainly because of fuel efficiency. But I had not thought about how quickly it attains freeway speeds something pretty important here in Chicago.

  2. @Lisa – I have driven cars with similar acceleration performance as the Prius V in Chicago. I think the Prius V will do okay jumping into traffic motoring around the windy city without too much drama. If most of your time is spent inner-city driving, the fuel efficiency of the Prius will outweigh the Outback’s acceleration if you are thinking of the 2.5i. OTH, the Outback 3.6R has a much bigger motor, has much quicker acceleration times, and uses a lot more gas than a Prius V.

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