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2012 Toyota Prius v: Car of the Year front runner

The recently debuted Toyota Prius v is touted by the manufacturer as having attributes that will “meet the needs of growing families with active lifestyles.”

After driving the Prius v at the Green Drive Expo, a media launch in Richmond, Calif., and speaking with Wayne Gerdes, owner of the site, www.cleanmpg.com, and my test drive colleague, I had four quick reactions:

1. The Prius v, like Gerdes espoused several times, is the most fairly priced model in Toyota’s green fleet;

2. The Prius v logically should prove so popular, Toyota may find it has two Prius models competing against each other for top hybrid honors;

3. The Prius v, is being promoted by Toyota as having the highest fuel efficiency of any crossover, SUV or wagon on the market;

4. Unlike other Prius models, all of which have the major drawback of an obstructed rear winshield view, the Prius v as a crossover, doesn’t have the same rear design and odd-looking hatchback. The rear view therefore is refreshingly unobstructed.

Rear view, Toyota Prius v, 2012

My test drive during the media launch was only about 10 miles, but my average mpg was nearly 60 mpg.

All of which add up to give the Prius f the early leader-of-the-pack status for 2012 Car of the Year honors.

Here are some of the Prius v’s attributes:

With 34.3 cubic feet of cargo room, it will offer 58 percent more cargo space than the Prius Liftback and than 80 percent more than all current small SUVs.

The Prius v is rated at an estimated 44 mpg in the city, 40 mpg highway and 42 mpg combined.

The Prius v, available in three configurations, has a vast list of standard features: 6.1-inch Display Audio system with integrated backup camera, Bluetooth® and USB port, 16-inch alloy wheels with wheel covers, single-dial climate control, EV/ECO/Power modes, driver door Smart Key System, instrument panel with driver feedback displays, Toyota’s Star Safety System™ [which includes the Anti-lock Braking System (ABS), Electronic Brake-force Distribution (EBD), Brake Assist (BA), Enhanced Vehicle Stability Control (VSC), Traction Control (TRAC) and Smart Stop Technology], 60/40 split sliding and reclining rear seat and power lumbar support and much more.

The Prius v Three adds standard Display Audio with Navigation and the Entune1™ multimedia system (includes SiriusXM™ Satellite Radio with 90-day trial subscription, HD Radio® with iTunes® Tagging and text-to-speech with programmed and customizable test responses).

In addition to standard features on the Prius v Two and Three, the Prius v Five adds standard SofTex-trimmed seats, heated front seats, three-door Smart Key, 17-inch alloy wheels, LED headlamps and fog lamps.

The base MSRP for the Prius v are $26,400 for the Prius v Two model, $27,165 for the Prius v Three, and $29,990 for the Prius v Five.

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