The largest member of the perennially-burgeoning Toyota Prius range – though technically the least-advanced, since it shares little if anything with the standard Prius car. The Toyota Prius V still retains the now-nameplate-synonymous hybrid setup, with power coming from a 1.8-liter four-cylinder gasoline engine with a complementary electric motor. As expected, fuel economy is pretty good, though the economy advantage is slowly being whittled away as rivals catch up tech-wise. Space, though, is rather impressive indeed, and the Toyota Prius V is very easy to drive in congested areas – though highway manners do leave a bit to be desired.
The Toyota Prius has normally been associated with quirkily-styled family runabouts, but the Toyota Prius V is the first Prius aimed at those who’d normally eye up a compact wagon. Whilst it isn’t the latest word in technological advancement (the Prius V hasn’t changed much since being introduced in 2011), the hybrid powertrain’s claimed fuel economy and ability to run on battery power alone are still notable USPs – with the incredibly spacious cabin being another big highlight. Despite being more expensive than some rivals, though, the quality of interior trim pieces is disappointingly cheap-feeling, and the hybrid setup doesn’t quite have enough grunt to endow the Toyota Prius V with much highway overtaking ability.
‘Incredibly versatile and spacious. Trim material quality is starting to lag behind’
The current Toyota Prius V was first introduced in 2011, so it’s perhaps unsurprising that the cabin quality isn’t the top-of-the-class. Nevertheless, the array of grey, hard plastics and button-smothered center console do date the Toyota Prius V’s interior considerably, with newer rivals feeling more contemporary on the inside. Where the Prius V claws back ground, though, is in the amount of space. Head and leg room all round is satisfactory, and the storage cubbies are as plentiful as they are accommodating. The trunk’s pretty sizeable too, with a capacities of 34.3 to 40.2 cubic feet (depending on where the sliding rear seat bench is placed), and extending all the way to a very impressive 67.3 cubic feet with the rear seats folded down.
Being larger than a regular Toyota Prius means the Prius V has another ace card over its standard hybrid sibling: a smoother ride as a result of the longer wheelbase. Admittedly, this doesn’t make the Prius V an uber-comfy cruiser (at highway speeds and on rougher roads, the ride can be a bit bouncy and jiggly), but the improvement is much appreciated.
‘Pleasant to drive around town, but can feel overwhelmed on highways’
The rest of the driving experience remains nigh-on identical to the base Toyota Prius – refinement’s only okay by class standards, but won’t be an issue if you’ll spend a majority of your time in built-up areas, and the light controls make controlling the Prius V a doddle. Visibility’s rather satisfactory too, though do bear in mind the thick rear pillars when reversing.
Like the other Prius models you can buy, the Toyota Prius V is only available with a gasoline-electric hybrid powertrain. With a net power output of 134 horsepower, the 1.8-liter four-cylinder engine/electric motor setup doesn’t provide much accelerative grunt, though the electric motor’s almost-instantaneous torque delivery means there’s enough low-down shove to get the Prius V away briskly from standing starts.
‘Not that punchy, but the hybrid setup shines when it comes to fuel consumption’
Though not the smoothest or most refined engine in this segment, the gasoline engine does settle down at cruising speeds, and the powertrain seamlessly transitions from electric-to-gasoline power and vice versa. Economy figures of 43mpg in the city and 39mpg on the highway are good for this segment, but aren’t the best you’ll find in a mainstream hybrid car.
‘At least a good array of features is included in the relatively high asking price’
With prices starting at $27,510, the Toyota Prius V isn’t exactly the most affordable vehicle you’ll find in this class. That said, the car does come with a decent amount of equipment as standard: base-spec ‘Two’ trim cars have climate control, a reversing camera and a straightforward-if-a-bit-dated touchscreen setup, with the $28,060 ‘Three’ spec we reckon most buyers will be content with adding navigation, HD radio and a power-adjustable driver’s seat. The Toyota Prius V should also be a very safe vehicle, having earned the highest grade in its most recent NHTSA crash test.
It’s starting to feel dated in a few areas now, but the more impressive aspects of the Toyota Prius V’s spec sheet do just about overcome those deficiencies. Factor in the impressive practicality and pretty good fuel economy, and the Toyota Prius V is a car we reckon you should have a closer look at (as long as your annual mileage doesn’t incorporate lots of long highway journeys).