People have wanted to know when I could get my hands on the much-anticipated larger Prius, the V. I was lucky enough to be the first to get one out of the press fleet for the area. The 2012 Toyota Prius V-Hybrid is a wagon (it a pronounced as the letter V, not Roman numeral five) and it is much larger than the Prius sedan we are used to. In fact, it is an inch wider, three inches taller, and a full six inches longer. It is visibly much bigger and has 60% more cargo room than the Prius sedan.
Like previous generations of Prius, the new V is a hybrid. It has a 1.8-liter 4-cylinder engine and a couple of electric motors to run on at lower speeds and to aid in the horsepower of the engine, although slightly. The Toyota Hybrid Synergy Drive system switches between gas and battery to maximize fuel economy. At slower speeds, you can run on just battery until you reach a speed of about 45-miles per hour or until the batteries run low. Then the gas engine comes on to charge them back up. In addition, friction from braking sends a charge to the batteries as well.
Arguably, Toyota does a hybrid system better than anybody. Not up for argument is the sales success of the Prius. Over a million have been sold in America since it came out in 2001. Just a couple of years ago, one of out every two hybrids sold was a Prius, in spite of the fact that there was only one model available.
The 2012 Toyota Prius V comes in three packages: a two, a three, and a five with the five being the most loaded with options. My test wagon was the middle version, the model three. It is nicely equipped with a continuously-variable automatic transmission, power windows and door locks, tilt and telescoping steering wheel and a very large, 8.1” touchscreen that operates virtually everything.
Also as part of the package, you get navigation system, satellite radio, Bluetooth, keyless entry system, push-button start, and automatic climate-controlled air conditioning. This package comes with cloth seats. The interior of the Prius V is rather bland for the price of the car, but the cost of this car is under the hood, not on the interior or exterior looks of the car.
The V drives better and handles better than I thought it would. It looks heavy, but is quite nimble in the way it handles. The ride quality is actually OK and the visibility is spectacular. People over 6’2 will probably not be comfortable behind the wheel due to limited head room, but for most, it is fine. The rear cargo area is mammoth, with an easy to operate liftgate, and a low threshold for loading cargo.
As usual, the Government missed the fuel economy ratings on this car. They seem to do that with all hybrids and diesels, and they are ALWAYS low. The ratings on the car officially are 44 city/40 highway, but in stop and go traffic, as well as highway speeds, I am consistently getting over 50, more like 51. That is a substantial difference, and as always when I test a hybrid or other alternative fuel vehicle, I drive it normally.
If a person can maintain that 50 MPG rating, a 15,000 mile per year driver can spend just $85 per month on gas at $3.50 per gallon. Although the price of the Prius V as I tested it seems high to me, when you look at your fuel savings and your overall cost of transportation, the Prius V makes sense.
Prius in Latin means “ahead of the curve”. Given the size of the Prius V and the gas mileage I am getting with it, I would have to say they named it right.
What I liked most: The ride and fuel economy.
What I would change: Jazz up the interior.
Fuel Economy: Rated at 44 city and 40 highway, but averaging almost 51.
2012 Prius V in a few words: Another technological wonder from Toyota.