By on June 27, 2011

Brand extensions aren’t common in the auto industry, perhaps because they rarely (if ever) succeed. Chrysler and Oldsmobile hyperextended the LeBaron and Cutlass brands, respectively, into oblivion. But Toyota has struggled as much as anyone to sell hybrids that aren’t named Prius, so it will now attempt to sell additional models under that highly successful nameplate. First up: the Prius v (with the lowercase v for “versatile”). How far and how effectively does a second model extend the reach of the brand?

Brand extensions require finesse. If the additional model is too different than the original, then it becomes unclear what the brand stands for. But if it’s overly similar, people wonder what the point of it is, if they become aware of it at all. The naming system of the new models suggests that Toyota is more likely to err in the latter direction. The original Prius and the new Prius v will later be joined by the Prius PHV (for “Plug-in Hybrid Vehicle”) and the more compact Prius c. None of these names provides much basis for an independent identity. With a Taurus X in my driveway, I’m painfully aware of the confusion that ensues when people hear a familiar model name with a single character appended. Most alphanumerics give people two or three characters to latch onto.

Worse, many people already consider their Prius a Prius V, with the V (in this case a Roman numeral pronounced “five”) denoting the top trim level. To avoid the absurdity of a Prius v V, Prius trim levels are now spelled out. So the top trim will be the Prius v Five.

The exterior styling of the Prius v similarly errs on the side of anonymity. Every exterior panel is different, and the new model is larger in every dimension (three inches more wheelbase, six inches more overall length, three inches more height, and about an inch more width). Nevertheless, few people will mistake it for anything other than a Prius with a larger, squarer rear end. Which is essentially what it is.

It took three generations, but the Prius eventually evolved into a somewhat attractive car (at least when fitted with the Five’s 17-inch alloys). With the new Prius v, we’re back to the ungainly appearance of the first two Prii (the official plural, as decided by a public vote). Engineers likely dictated the basic shape of the car, and left its designers little latitude to pretty it up. The Prius v’s interior is similarly significantly less stylish than that of the current Prius, with none of its artful curves.


This styling (or lack thereof) suggests that the Prius v is first and foremost about function. The stylish “flying buttress” center console of the regular Prius is absent. Instead, there’s a much lower, much less intrusive center console with open compartments for iPhones, purses, and such. The hood over the centrally located instruments is narrow, so the view forward is more open. To the side, the base of the side windows is more horizontal, while to the rear a much boxier rear end enables a taller, single-piece rear window. With all of these changes the Prius v feels more open and roomier, but also less stylish and less sporty. This could very well be a response to second-generation Prius owners who dislike the more encapsulated, “starship pilot” driving position of the third-generation car. In both cars interior materials are the hard plastics typical of current Toyotas, but they appear cheaper inside the Prius v. The silver plastic trim on the doors appears dated.

Like that of the regular Prius, the Prius v’s front seat is comfortable and provides more lateral support than 99.9% of economy-minded drivers will ever need. But the rear seat disappoints. Though it includes an inch more headroom and two inches more shoulder room, there’s actually a little less legroom despite the new car’s longer wheelbase and overall length. Worse, the seat cushion is lower to the floor, less comfortably shaped, and further compromised by front seats that (unlike those in the regular Prius) don’t have enough room beneath them for the rear passenger’s feet. Add up these shortcomings, and the Prius v’s rear seat is considerably less comfortable for adults than that of the regular Prius. Toyota’s product development organization dropped the ball here.

One factor: the car’s packaging had to allow for the cramped third-row seat offered elsewhere in the world. This third row isn’t offered in the United States because it requires a more compact but also far more expensive lithium-ion battery pack (in place of the standard NiMH pack). Only one buyer in twenty has been willing to fork over about $900 for the similarly limited third row in the RAV4 compact SUV. So a $5,000+ third-row seat would clearly have few takers.

With the rear seat actually less comfortable, it falls to the Prius v’s larger cargo capacity to justify its existence. The regular Prius has 21.5 cubic feet behind the second row and 39.6 with this row folded. Thanks to its longer, boxier tail, the Prius v slightly exceeds the latter figure even without folding the second row if you slide this row forward a few inches (a feature the regular Prius does not have). The average adult will still fit in this mode, just with knees grazing the front seatbacks. Sliding the rear seat all the way back leaves 34.3 cubic feet behind it. With the seat folded, 67.3. These figures, a substantial improvement over the regular Prius, compare well to the compact SUVs Toyota names as the car’s primary target. A folding front passenger seat would make the Prius v even more versatile, but one is not offered.


The Prius v’s 134-horsepower (98 from the 1.8-liter gas engine) hybrid powertrain is unchanged from the regular Prius. A shorter final driver ratio (3.70 vs. 3.27) compensates for the larger car’s heftier curb weight (3,274 vs. 3,042 pounds), so acceleration is about the same. As in the regular Prius, the powertrain mode makes a big difference. Select “eco” and acceleration could hardly be more leisurely. Though accelerating very slowly feels surprisingly good in the Prius v because the powertrain in this mode is so smooth and so quiet, the drivers in your rearview mirror clearly find the experience much less relaxing. In the default mode, the powertrain feels substantially more responsive, and in “power” it feels almost quick. Work the powertrain hard, though, and it makes quite a bit more noise and has the unnatural, non-linear feel common with a CVT.

EPA ratings are much lower with the Prius v, 44/40 vs. 51/48. The differences compared to the regular Prius aren’t large—a little less slippery (the drag coefficient is 0.29 instead of 0.25), a little more frontal area, a little more weight, a shorter final drive ratio—but they apparently add up, at least within the EPA’s lab. Perhaps the Prius v wasn’t as thoroughly tweaked to gain a few tenths here and a few tenths there?

Suspension tweaks for the Prius v focused on ride quality, and the car does ride more smoothly and quietly than the regular Prius. Handling, not a Prius strongpoint to begin with, is a little less sharp but still more controlled than with the first- and second-generation Prii. Understeer and lean in hard turns are moderate. The tires rather than the suspension are very much the limiting factor. When they slide they do so progressively and without much audible fuss. Given its role as an efficient appliance, the Prius v handles well enough. Those seeking a more involving driving experience should check out the similarly functional, similarly efficient Volkswagen Jetta SportWagen TDI.

Since the Prius v shares its powertrain and many other parts beneath the skin with the regular Prius, reliability should be excellent. Prius owners participating in TrueDelta’s Car Reliability Survey have consistently reported very few repairs. Critics of the car have often stressed the danger of expensive battery pack failures, but these are hardly ever needed before 150,000 miles. A new battery pack runs about $2,500, but people have paid only a few hundred for packs out of wrecked cars with low miles.

Toyota hasn’t yet announced pricing for the Prius v, but suggests it will cost only be a little more than the regular Prius. The difference had better be $1,000 at most, for the Prius v doesn’t offer much more than the regular car. There’s significantly more cargo space, better outward visibility, and a less constricted driving position, but fuel economy takes a hit and the rear seat is surprisingly less comfortable. The Prius v doesn’t risk damaging the brand—it’s too similar to the regular Prius for this—but since the car is essentially a Prius wagon it’s hard to see why Toyota went through the trouble of developing an all-new exterior and interior. With a largely clean sheet and more inches to work with, why aren’t the exterior and interior more attractive, and why isn’t the rear seat much roomier? Unlike with the regular Prius, no one was swinging for the fences. The Prius v certainly isn’t a bad car, but it is nevertheless an opportunity squandered.

Toyota made this vehicle available for review at a regional launch event. A pre-production review can be found here.

Michael Karesh operates TrueDelta, an online source of automotive pricing and reliability data.

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111 Comments on “Review: 2012 Toyota Prius v...”


  • avatar

    What in god’s name is the point of gauges in the center?

    • 0 avatar
      psarhjinian

      Easier to make an international version and (if you mount them high up, as the Prius does, and not low as in the Mini) fewer degrees of look-away from the road, no need to refocus as your vision stays in the same focal plane.

      If you wear glasses they’re a godsend. I wish more cars came with them, or something like them.

      • 0 avatar
        VanillaDude

        You cannot use this dashboard design with bifocals because you cannot merely glance, you actually need to turn your head towards it.

        A very stupid design.

      • 0 avatar
        psarhjinian

        Yes you can. Its at most a ten degree look away from thhe road with yoiur eyes only. Unless you have a serious peripheral vision issue (or your eyeballs are incapable of rotating), you don’t need to turn your head.

        Hell, you barely need to turn your head to use your side mirrors.

      • 0 avatar
        VanillaDude

        Right.
        Why should I believe my lying eyes? They must be just playing tricks on me. Every time I drive a car with this dashboard design, I cannot just glance at the poorly located gages in the center of the damn dash. What do I know?

        Tell me again how I can really do it! I guess I have to learn how to do a glance…

      • 0 avatar
        psarhjinian

        Why should I believe my lying eyes?

        A very good question.

        They must be just playing tricks on me. Every time I drive a car with this dashboard design, I cannot just glance at the poorly located gages in the center of the damn dash. What do I know?

        I have no idea why you find this a problem. When I drive, if I have to check my passenger-side side mirror, I barely need to twitch my whole head. Are you really telling my you need to turn your head to look at a gauge pod that sixty degrees nearer to “straight ahead” than the side mirror?

        Here’s what I suggest: sit in a normal car, mark where your eyes are, and then pull a string from that point to the gauge pod. Now the same measure for the road ahead. Now, grab a protractor and measure the degrees difference between the two.

        Finally, do the same in a Prius (or Yaris, or Civic; any car with a centre pod).

        What you’ll see is that, in a normal car, it’s about 15-25 degrees from road to the gauges. In the Yaris (I’ve done this, by the way) it’s eleven degrees. For reference, in the Mini it’s something like 30, and the Camaro’s auxiliary gauges are probably even worse.

        This doesn’t even get into how the high-mount pod is in the (nearly) same focal plane as the road, so you don’t need to refocus.

        So, yes, the centre-mount gauge thing is entirely in your own head. Your eyes—or rather, your brain—is lying to you. Or you just don’t like change.

    • 0 avatar
      gslippy

      The xB1 that psar and I each have has center-mounted gauges. It took me all of a week to get used to them and realize the benefits. They really are nice, and improve safety.

      If you’re tall like me, you get tired of having steering wheels obstruct the 40-80 mph parts of the speedometer in every other car, not to mention some of the critical indicator lights. Center-mounted gauges solve all that.

      • 0 avatar
        benzaholic

        Well-designed gauges, positioned directly in front of the driver, are superior in my opinion.

        psar, most no-line bifocals, purchased by many because we don’t want the line in our glasses scaring off the young womens, do in fact provide lousy focus off-center. When I noticed that when I got this first pair, the tech simply replied that I only needed to point my nose at whatever I wanted to look at.

        A well-done heads up display is probably best, but analog (or analog-looking on a flatscreen) gauges with high contrast between the indicator and the background make it easy for the driver to pick up approximate gauge values almost peripherally. You don’t need to perfectly refocus onto an analog(-look) gauge to pick up that the needle is about two-thirds of the way through its arc.

        I think center mounting of primary gauges was probably originally just a stupid design decision or a serious money-saving attempt. Now it’s a combination of money-saving and retro-stylishness, but I remain convinced that it’s an inferior choice for the job of informing the driver of current status.

      • 0 avatar
        dmchyla

        You guys can go back and forth all you want, but you miss the fact that Toyota managed to design a dashboard that’s uglier than the one in the Yaris.

      • 0 avatar
        OM617

        someone has…ahem…borrowed my avatar!

    • 0 avatar
      tedward

      I’m with vanilladude. In the MINI it’s a non event, b/c the important guage is front and center (tells you something right there), in the international Toyota’s mentioned here it’s the cheapest possible way to set up a car for both side drive, and that’s worth irritating a few people apparently.

      I hope they don’t try this across the whole model range. Right now it’s limited to the Yaris, xB, Prius, (?) maybe one more, and frankly the Yaris and xB should at least have the tach mounted above the wheel (or at least have a tach as standard equipment ahem).

      Meanwhile Infinite is quietly making everyone else look stupid by having their entire gauge cluster move with the steering wheel column.

      For what it’s worth, I like the looks of this Prius variant better than the standard and past models, and it makes a bit more sense with extra cargo room. Still not a fan.

      • 0 avatar
        psarhjinian

        Meanwhile Infinite is quietly making everyone else look stupid by having their entire gauge cluster move with the steering wheel column

        I’ve tried Nissan’s setup in the 350Z and Maxima. It works, but not as well as you’d think if you’re tall and the top edges of the gauges are still chopped off.

        Compare this to, say, what Honda does in the Civic: the critical gauges are up in the same plane as the road and the secondary stuff is small enough that, despite the tiny wheel, it’s still not cut off.

        The Mini’s IP is just terrible. Mind you, the whole car is an ergonomic disaster, so that’s fair. The speedometer is front and centre—of the car! It’s where the radio controls are in most vehicles, which is well below, but just as far to the side, as the Prius. Worst of both worlds, right there. But of course, the Mini is sporty, and thusly we forgive it.

      • 0 avatar
        tedward

        I haven’t tried it in the Z but it worked for my, admittedly more average, 6’2″frame in the Maxima and G. I do think all of these solutions are a poor second to a heads up display, or perhaps, an analog top of dash solution.

        The Civic setup I’d like a lot better if they hadn’t insisted on a digital representation. I feel like they’ve taken the advantage out of the top of the dash placement by their choice in display. I’m sure this was for aesthetic, not ergonomic, reasons, but I’d call it a fail on both counts as a result.

        The MINI is definitely a total mess inside, but b/c the tach is front and center it compensates for the uselessness of the speedo to some extent. I will say that the orientation of the dial matters more to me than the degree off center I need to glance (although that does play a role). Looking a little bit down or up is better than looking the same amount to either side, especially when it comes to glasses and their compromised side peripheral vision. There probably is a point though, where I’d rather look to the side, for example, a really low or obscured center gauge vs. a high mounted side gauge.

  • avatar
    VanillaDude

    This car is as exciting as the old Checker Marathon.

    Thank you Toyota for keeping this idea evolving. I think it is great for some painfully boring people to buy this car and be your guinea pigs. I guess since pocket protectors and slide rules are no longer needed, society needed a way to identify people who are socially retarded. This new Pious helps identify them.

    The world benefits from this diversity. We need every kind of person to keep humanity thriving. Assisting those lacking in any basic animal attractiveness with their transportation needs is an honorable mission. Like a Vulcan, these people still need to be phyically aroused every seven years, so they need to find one another. This new Prius will help them identify one another after they have transported themselves to their latest conferences, shows and Dungeon and Dragons events.

    Thanks also to Toyota for using colors that make this car almost completely invisible to the rest of us. We have no need to see Prius drivers on the road. If they are concerned about their safety, they can do what earlier Prius drivers did, fill the back of the car with bumper stickers insulting those driving behind them.

    Who knows? Maybe one day auto manufacturers will be able to make cars like the Prius attractive to the rest of us. Until then, we should thank them for satisfying those people we fear becoming.

    • 0 avatar
      Japanese Buick

      VD, do you realize you are just as much a laughable fanatic as the people you think you are parodying,just on the other side of the same fence?

      FYI I only know one Prius owner. He is a Republican retired Air Force Colonel and flight instructor who bought it because he believes gas will go up to $5, plus he enjoys the engineering of the thing. He let me drive it around the block, which was enough to confirm my initial impression that I don’t want one. Oh yeah, I’m the Democrat software engineer, but I’ll stick to my Miata and LS400.

      • 0 avatar
        CJinSD

        The Prius driver I know is a 6’4″ Marine helicopter pilot who has fought bulls in Spain. Unlike pretty much every other Marine officer I know, he was a Democrat a few years ago. Obama may well have made him come to his senses by now though.

    • 0 avatar
      HoldenSSVSE

      @pintofan

      … The rest are just normal folks who want the insane mileage and the practicality…

      And if they pulled out a calculator and did the math of TCO versus a C-segment car they would find that the “insane” mileage is losing ground on increasing efficient competition and the math for TCO doesn’t add up until gasoline gets to $7 to $9 a gallon. And that is comparing a Prius II to some of the newer C-segment cars when equipped tit for tat.

      I’d love to see True Delta dive into that math.

    • 0 avatar
      30-mile fetch

      Vanilla Dude,
      “Painfully boring people”? Geez, talk about retarded. Even if that rant was tongue-in-cheek its terribly uncreative and common. Some of the least interesting people to me are the ones who use their car as a way of defining themselves. The most fascinating people I know have a full repertoire of hobbies and interests and just happen to like cool cars. They’d be interesting without them.

      For some a car really is just an appliance. So what?

    • 0 avatar
      StatisticalDolphin

      Vanilla Dude is right.

      Many Prius owners ARE socially retarded. They cop a holier-than-thou
      attitude, then they don’t understand why the rest of us aren’t in awe of their sanctimony. Textbook example of social retardation.

      ‘Typical Prius Owner’ should be featured in the next Coen Brothers movie.

      This isn’t meant to insult these folks, it’s just an observation.

      • 0 avatar
        lostjr

        I see a lot more attitude from Prius haters than from Prius drivers. It is just a car. You don’t like it, drive something else. I think the haters have had more to do with turning it into a symbol than the drivers. (I don’t drive a Prius.)

  • avatar

    I see more than a few Subaru wagons becoming trade-ins for these, at least in my neck of the woods. Subaru wagons have gotten so big and CUV-like that it’s getting a bit hard for the deep-green crowd to feel ok about getting out of one at the trailhead or at REI.

    • 0 avatar
      VanillaDude

      Because nothing says recycling and not wasting resources quite like a new car with unrecyclable batteries built on the other side of the world, then transported by diesel engines to your local dealership. Behind each of these cars is a 12,000 mile long black trail of diesel fumes.

      • 0 avatar
        psarhjinian

        You do know the batteries are recycled? and that Toyota pays you for them?

        Hell, my local Home Depot has a drop box for NiMH cells, and any cellphone store will take LiIons.

      • 0 avatar
        HoldenSSVSE

        The batteries are absolutely recyclable; however the nickel mining and refining process uses vast amounts of water, ammonia, hydrogen (likely processed from natural gas) and electricity.

        By the time the raw ore is produced and made it into a battery the carbon footprint of a Prius is almost unrecoverable. I find irony that as there are wails of the new EVs hitting the marketing being “over priced” Toyota in North America only clings to a cheaper, less efficient, planet destroying technology for purely competitive needs. Mean while the greenies line up not because a Prius helps them save the planet (dude, ride a bike, last I checked a Prius still needs hydrocarbons to move), but nothing says, “look at me, I’m saving the planet,” than rockin’ a Prius in the left lane at 45 MPH.

      • 0 avatar
        LectroByte

        The batteries are easily recyclable, and the impact of nickel mining is way over-exaggerated here by some. You all do realize nickel is mined and used for a lot of other things than just batteries, right? And the battery pack in these cars is around 100 lbs or so?

      • 0 avatar
        PintoFan

        You misunderstand why people are buying these. The “greenies” make up a very small percentage of actual Prius buyers. The rest are just normal folks who want the insane mileage and the practicality.

    • 0 avatar
      nickeled&dimed

      Being the owner of both a ’00 Subaru wagon and an ’05 Prius (ok, the prius is my wife’s) I could definitely see trading in the Subaru wagon for the Prius v. Functionally very similar, if you don’t need awd or valve cover gasket leaks. Neither car is particularly comfortable, but the gas mileage on the prius makes it our primary choice for trip vehicle. The advantage of the Subaru wagon, and similarly the V, is that our two dogs can stay in the cargo space instead of having to have the rear seats down.

      • 0 avatar
        PenguinBoy

        I have an ’02 Subaru Legacy Wagon. I don’t like the new Outback, if I wanted a bulky crossover type vehicle there are other, better choices IMHO.

        I don’t see replacing my Legacy with one of these though. No AWD, so it isn’t going to be great in Winter, and since most of our Subaru driving is on the highway we won’t see as much fuel savings out of a hybrid powertrain as someone who does more city driving.

        I suspect if I was willing to forgo AWD I would be better served by a Kia Soul than this…

  • avatar
    The Comedian

    Until you spelled out the nomenclature change I couldn’t figure out why a trim level was getting its own review.

    Imagine the future parts counter exchanges about IV, V I, I V and 11 I Prii.

    Maybe it works better in the original Japanese.

  • avatar
    psarhjinian

    I can’t say I’m impressed. I was hoping that Toyota would do something like the Mazda5, or hybridize the Sienna. It’s not a bad car, but there’s not a lot of reason to get this over the regular Prius, and it doesn’t solve the hybrid seven-passenger question.

    Near as I can tell, they didn’t try harder (bigger?) for fear of stomping on the (very expensive) Highlander Hybrid.

    • 0 avatar
      stuki

      Two child seats, two largeish strollers and some luggage. I’m guessing Toyota is simply patching one of the customer leaks from the smaller Prius. 40/44 is pretty darned impressive for that much luggage space, if saving gas/limiting CO2 is your thing.

      I do wonder how high a scaled up similar hybrid drivetrain like this, could get mpg in a Sienna sized vehicle. But at the same time, isn’t part of the charm of owning a Prius showing off ones disdain for such overt excess, while flaunting once appreciation for more Euro sized accommodations?

    • 0 avatar

      I suspect the size and weight were driven by the requirement to use the same powertrain as the regular Prius.

  • avatar
    mjz

    The silver exterior combined with the dull grey interior is absolutely coma inducing. Driving a Kenmore refrigerator would be more exciting.

  • avatar
    threeer

    Realizing the appearance is so subjective…but could we finally grow up enough to lose the “Alteeza” rear lights already? I think it would look a tad more respectable with normal taillight covers.

    • 0 avatar
      Zackman

      Yeah, I used to like the “Alteeza” look, too, but it got old real fast. Nothing like headlight-appearing tail light lenses to confuse me more than I already am!

  • avatar
    findude

    I’ll seriously consider one of these the next time we need a new car. The regular Prius with the sloping hatch is just not as useful a consideration for someone who will downsize from a full-size minivan but still wants to get big stuff in the back from time to time.

    I don’t like center gauges (have a MINI so I know . . . . ), but it’s not a deal breaker.

    And I love those old Checker Marathons. Go figure.

  • avatar
    carguy

    I would have expected more differentiation from the Prius. With a less sterile interior, maybe optional AWD and comfy backseats this may have extended the Prius’s reach to a new demographic. However, as it is I see most sales coming at the expense of the existing Prius.

    • 0 avatar
      fincar1

      +1…particularly the last sentence.

    • 0 avatar
      HoldenSSVSE

      Given that just making it a couple of inches longer and one inch wider, as well as adding 300 pounds (roughly) dropped fuel economy 6 and 8 respectively, I would think that AWD would put this into the, “what’s the point” category. I’d also suspect that given the chassis isn’t setup for AWD, the reengineering costs would be prohibitive, if not impossible on the platform.

      I agree however that I don’t see the masses rushing to this, and most sales will come from those who would buy a Prius anyway.

    • 0 avatar
      Ion

      Sales will likely be reported together ala Genesis, Accord/Crosstour, and Corolla/Matrix. Speaking of the Matrix it will likely be the real victim here.

  • avatar
    VanillaDude

    The reason the interior looks and feels like it does is because Toyota discovered that Prius drivers prefer to feel that they are atoning for their sins when they suffer driving them. The seats are hard for similar reasons pews and kneelers in church are hard. The car is a rolling confessional booth for people who feel guilty about living and want to be seen as more Prius than thou.

    • 0 avatar
      30-mile fetch

      You’re a joke! Can’t even come up with an original insult! Troll be gone!

    • 0 avatar
      Coley

      Vanilla,

      You and I have had a friendly argument before (about minivans), and I always enjoy your comments (even if they can be a bit unfair).

      This one, however, I think is your best yet!

      Sure, there are plenty of technology-oriented engineers buying Prii, just as many of my neighbors were early adopters in order to weasel their way into the commuter HOV lanes without any passengers, but for the driver of every Prius imploring other motorists to “COEXIST,” (which is probably 70% in the N.Va. suburbs), the featured form of self-flagellation you describe is dead-on accurate.

  • avatar
    philadlj

    “The difference had better be $1,000 at most, for the Prius v doesn’t offer much more than the regular car”

    FWIW, Transformers Special Edition Camaro – essentially yellow paint, some fake carbon fiber, badges and seat embossing, is a package costing $3,000. Fuel economy is unchanged from the regular Camaro, but so is luggage space.

    • 0 avatar
      HoldenSSVSE

      Apples and oranges comparison.

      Look over time how people have lined up to buy the Indy 500 Pace Car editions of vehicle XYZ with this level of markup, and more, for little more than paint, stickers, rims and some embrodery. Now if the Prius turned into an Autobot in a full length 2 hour commercial targeted to adult males 18 to 34, oh wait, sorry, a Michael Bay fueled explosion fest void of plot of character development, but showing lots of action shots of GM products – well then you’d have a point.

      GM will have zero problems selling those Transformer Camaros – deep in your heart you know it. What did P.T. Barnum say…

    • 0 avatar
      Tree Trunk

      How long does it take to pay down the extra cost of the Transformers edition by the savings it offers?

      Oh wait, it is only the people that buy Prius that have to be able to show detailed calculations of what the payback period from the fuel savings over some other car.

      Everybody else just gets cool option man!

  • avatar
    200k-min

    Its porportions look like the Mazda 5. Yuck. I’ll pass.

  • avatar
    jj99

    Cool car. Will be a big seller where the very cool people live, like the west coast and the north east.

  • avatar
    gslippy

    The Elantra Touring has a better warranty, and better looks.

  • avatar
    Russycle

    How did this get out the door with less rear seat leg room than the regular Prius? And bringing an uber-boring silver-on-gray unit to a launch event? Whoever’s asleep at the wheel at Toyota better wake up soon.

    • 0 avatar
      Quentin

      Rear legroom is listed at 0.1″ lower in the v. Marginal, IMO. I’m unsure of where the rear seat is positioned for that measurement since it slides. Hip and shoulder room are way up for the v, though, which should bode well for those with 2 in child seats. Agreed on the silver on gray. I’d like to see something a little more bold like a pearl white over black.

      • 0 avatar
        Russycle

        Quentin, I’m not sure that 0.1″ includes the fact that rear seat passengers’ feet won’t fit under the front seats. That makes a huge difference.

      • 0 avatar

        It’s necessary to look at total legroom, and the regular Prius has over an inch more in the front seat. Position both front seats for the same driver, and the regular Prius ends up with over an inch extra in the rear seat.

      • 0 avatar
        Quentin

        So, I actually test drove one of these last week. Michael, I think that measurement for the back seats is with them slid all the way forward. (They are on sliding rails much like the Rav4, Highlander, and 3rd row equipped 4Runners.) I didn’t hop into a regular Prius immediately after my drive, but my impression of the back seat was very favorable. With the seat adjusted for my 5’8″ frame (please note I’m more leg than torso compared to the average fellow), I had loads of space in the back. In fact, a 6″ tall friend easily fit in the back seat with about 3″ between his knee and the seatback. When I actually decide to go order, I’ll have to compare two side by side, but my impression is that the v has much more room in the 2nd row.

  • avatar
    BryanC

    The Jetta TDI wagon isn’t close to similarly efficient as the Prius V. The only reason it looks close when you look at MPG is a failure on the part of the auto industry to adhere to basic scientific principle: namely that you should measure things by weight, not by volume.
    Since Diesel fuel is 12% denser, it carries ~12% more energy per gallon than gasoline. Luckily, there’s an easy way to bridge this gap: we’ll use MPG(equivalent).
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Miles_per_gallon_gasoline_equivalent

    Converting to MPGe, we see that the Jetta TDI is rated at 27/38 MPGe (it’s rated at 30/42 MPGd). This is not actually that close to the Prius v 44/40, particularly around town.

    This is TTAC, I expect more accuracy!

    • 0 avatar
      Quentin

      You buy your fuel by volume, though. You pay for that volume with dollars, so converting to $/mi is the most direct comparison.

      • 0 avatar
        BryanC

        I agree – ultimately $/mi is what will matter to the consumer. The problem, of course, is that the $/MJ varies quite a bit when comparing different fuels. If you assume a reference $/MJ (whether that MJ comes from electricity, natural gas, hydrogen, gasoline, diesel, whatever) and then publish a $/mi figure on a window sticker or in a magazine, it will be quickly outdated and useless for comparisons. MJ/km is the most useful metric for fuel consumption, but unfortunately we’ll never be enlightened enough to use it. Even in Europe, the land of the metric system, they still sell gas by the liter. #shameful

    • 0 avatar

      VW TDI owners regularly tell me that the EPA ratings are lower than what they observe.

      • 0 avatar
        tedward

        Hell, anything with a diesel, turbo, manual or non torque converter auto, or (gasp) a hybrid drivetrain gets waaaaay better than EPA milage. Prius owners should be just as annoyed by this as the tdi people, and we should all thank the automakers for not (completely) giving up on offering relatively unrewarded tech.

        But we should all (consumers and manufacturers) be sharpening our knives for the Korean twins, and their completely untrue 40+mpg claims. Disgusting is what that is.

      • 0 avatar
        jpolicke

        Second that. If I can’t beat the promised 40mpg hwy I was promised it’s either because of horrendous traffic or I was feeling extra aggressive. Then the trip avg goes all the way down to 36 from my normal 42-43.

        Along with that, the Jetta wagon actually feels like a car, even a car you might (gasp) enjoy driving. The Prius’ central gauge cluster says it all: this is a car to be operated, not driven. Since we’re sharing the data with all the passengers they should put in wheels & pedals for everybody. Commuting by consensus, sounds progressive. Then just to make it interesting the computer could randomly switch the set that’s activated just to keep everyone on their toes.

      • 0 avatar
        psarhjinian

        Well, they would say that, wouldn’t they?

  • avatar
    Quentin

    Michael – was this a launch event or a take-home-for-a-week review? I’m more interested in how well it fits children and all the stuff that goes along with children. I have my 4Runner for when I need to tote adults around. How is this as a day to day family vehicle compared to your Taurus X, for example?

    • 0 avatar

      Launch event. Three kids should fit just fine. The Taurus X is a much larger vehicle.

      • 0 avatar
        Quentin

        Sorry, I meant the stage when children are the bulkiest (in car seats w/ strollers). I’m not sure if your children are that age. As far as the Taurus X comment, I meant when you were out and about with your family (going camping or a run to Sam’s, etc), were there times that you felt overly cramped versus the X. A moot point since it was a launch event. If you get a weekend with it down the road, I’d appreciate that input.

  • avatar
    tallnikita

    forget the Prii, let’s give Vanilla Dude a bottle of scotch and a typewriter (mechanical, with sticky keys), for a weekly columns of The Cars That Suck And Why I Hate Them MORE!

    • 0 avatar
      VanillaDude

      Single malt.
      Glenmorangie – the top line of Glenmorangie, not that cheap stuff I drink because it is all I can afford.

      The Cars That Suck and Why I Hate Them MORE!
      Yeah – I can do that.

      What are you driving?

      • 0 avatar
        Russycle

        MMmmmm, I had a bottle of that I got in the duty-free shop at Heathrow. Judicious sipping got about two years out of that bottle, it was a sad day when it went dry.

    • 0 avatar
      Ubermensch

      More like: “The Cars That Suck, Why I Hate Their Owners, and Why I am Better Than Them Because They Drive a Car I Think Sucks.”

  • avatar
    Bob12

    From the review: “Only one buyer in twenty has been willing to fork over about $900 for the similarly limited third row in the RAV4 compact SUV.”

    I believe this is a misleading statistic, for two reasons:

    1) To my knowledge, the third row option is only available on the base model RAV4. This undoubtedly depresses the take rate.

    2) Third-row-equipped RAV4 models are virtually impossible to find on dealer lots. This essentially eliminates buyers who purchase from dealer stock.

  • avatar
    Dave M.

    1. Maybe one day auto manufacturers will be able to make cars like the Prius attractive to the rest of us.
    Personally I think its a great looking car – subtle; the front end especially. As a general traditionalist, I don’t like center-mounted IPs….maybe I’ll market a 6″x12″ photo sticker of a tach and speedo so my kind of people can feel comfortable. While I first screamed “poser-geek!” at early (’98-’05) Prii adapters, they have grown on me. A close friend who is an architect bought one and has gone on and on (ad naseum) about what techological marvels they are. I believe it though.

    2. I’m thinking Toyota is marketing this with an eye on Honda’s upcoming hybrid Fit wagon.

    3. I’m also thinking the v will greatly enlarge the potential Prius pool….again, folks who want something larger than the hatchback, but don’t have the $$ or desire to go to the Highlander or Camry.

    4. Finally, I think Taurus and Prius shoppers are very different creatures. The Prius is going to attract a more sophisticated shopper, who most likely quickly figure out the differences between the coupe, hatchback, and v. Karesh, no insult intended….very few of us realize the Taurus X was a completely different (and much better) creature than the old Taurus sedan. I think canceling the X was a huge mistake, but the market spoke. BTW, you got a steal on your car, and I’ve got X envy.

  • avatar
    jonny b

    The Prius is the car of choice for taxis in Vancouver and I suspect this will spread to the rest of North America soon. Hybrids are ideal taxis in dense cities. The main drawback is the lack of cargo space which is why you don’t see as many of them at the airport as you do downtown. The Prius v looks like it fixes this problem. I predict you’ll see line-ups of them at an airport near you in the next few years.

    • 0 avatar
      wsn

      This is the most relevant comment so far.

    • 0 avatar
      nickeled&dimed

      I recently walked out of a hotel near DC and did a double take: 9 out of the 10 taxis waiting in line were hybrids. I think there were 7 Prii, two Escapes, and an old Vic. For high mileage vehicles I doubt there’s a better option. That, and passenger comfort isn’t a concern for that application.

    • 0 avatar
      PenguinBoy

      Having ridden in a few Vancouver cabs in the past year, I think a Fusion Hybrid would be a better choice for a cab. I don’t find the Prius interior particularly spacious or attractive. The Fusion is no Audi on the inside, but it is a step up from the Prius.

  • avatar
    CJinSD

    I think this is the sort of car Citroen would be making today if they weren’t just badge engineered Peugeots now. Mind you it wouldn’t work if Citroen built it, but this is similarly at once ingenious and built to a set of priorities not immediately recognized as valuable to the general public. I’d actually like this car, but I won’t tolerate centrally placed instuments. I put up with it once with a Mini Cooper, and it turned out that the placement of the speedometer was a good indication of the quality of thought that went into every aspect of the execution of that car.

    • 0 avatar
      mike978

      Not all Citroens are badge engineered (depending on how you define that loose term) – the new DS range shows great creativity by Citroen.
      I disagree with you in part because Citroen would make it much more stylish. This Prius v is pretty boring looking.

      • 0 avatar
        CJinSD

        I lived in the Netherlands in 1984. GS’s and BX’s had nothing on this Prius when it comes to style. Many of them were shades of fading brown too. Badge engineered may understate the level of differentiation between some of the models, but the DS is a Peugeot 207 under the skin.

        http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Citroen_GS

      • 0 avatar
        mike978

        The Citroen you linked to may nor may not be worse looking than this Prius v (in my opinion the Citroen edges it) but I would hope a 2011 car beats a 1984 car in style. Very few cars have kept their looks and been classics – of course there are some but not many. Toyota need to aim higher than just well it looks good by 1984 standards.

      • 0 avatar
        CJinSD

        Citroen midsizes were as boring when new as they are now. The point was that they were towards the end of Citroen’s independence. You said that Citroen would have made it more stylish. I’m not blaming Citroen for all the boring Peugeot clones of recent decades, but Citroen was willing to put function ahead of gimmicky styling for pretty much every model they released after the Ami until they were swallowed up by Puegeot.

    • 0 avatar
      Zykotec

      Citroen would never build a car with a so uncomfortable suspension (I’m not saying the Prii has uncomfortable susupensions, but check out who Rolls Royce buys their suspension from)

  • avatar
    indi500fan

    40 highway? My plebian Cruze Eco does that. Of course the Eco badge isn’t nearly as cool as Hybrid Synergy Drive.

    • 0 avatar
      CJinSD

      44 mpg in the city is a bit more of an achievement. There is some irony in various cities’ allowing Prius drivers access to HOV lanes without passengers, since you’re correct that hybrid efficiency is less of a benefit on the highway.

    • 0 avatar
      wsn

      “40 highway? My plebian Cruze Eco does that. Of course the Eco badge isn’t nearly as cool as Hybrid Synergy Drive.”

      And of course the “highway mpg” campaign by GM is becoming stale and stinky. Come on, is GM’s entire knowledge about making a car “efficient” is too add a tall gear and do some cheap shots in commercials?

      • 0 avatar
        PintoFan

        For a normal IC car, the city figures for the Cruze Eco are certainly respectable enough: 28 mpg for a four-door car. Many owners seem to be reporting better figures than that. maybe indi500fan can enlighten us on his average figures?

      • 0 avatar
        mike978

        Don`t kid yourself wns, other manufacturers are doing the same thing and taking a normal car and getting an economy model out of it (looking at the Ford Focus and new Civic as example.)

  • avatar
    Dave M.

    40 highway? My plebian Cruze Eco does that. Of course the Eco badge isn’t nearly as cool as Hybrid Synergy Drive.

    No, it isn’t. And the Cruze doesn’t have anywhere near the hauling capacity of the v.

  • avatar
    IGB

    If cell phones cause cancer, then so do Priuses.

  • avatar

    A gauge console in the center?

    One cup holder?

    If there was ever a reason for me to keep spending $4.27 on Premium for two different gas guzzling, 5000 pound, V8 powered car’s – this car is that reason.

  • avatar
    mazder3

    This car looks old. Like, “Suddenly it’s 2004!” old. From the clear taillights to the Voltz aping roofline and windows to the Mazda3 door panels. Old. Toyota needs new stylists.

  • avatar
    mxfive4

    Michael, how does the cargo space and shape compare to the Mazda5?

    We often carry a wheel chair around and in the 5 we can sit it upright thus gaining a ton of cargo room (versus laying it on tis side). Do you think the Pv would be able to handle a wheel chair in the cargo area?

    Thanks

  • avatar
    lostjr

    I believe it does have a fold-flat front seat. “…while a fold-flat front-passenger seat allows for extremely long cargo.”

    http://pressroom.toyota.com/releases/prius+v+expands+toyota+hybrid+family.htm

    Nothing else on the US market will offer this combination of cargo room and fuel economy.

  • avatar
    tsoden

    Honda called… they want their “fit” back.

  • avatar
    dulcamara

    I do not care about people who drive Priii. I am not interested in insulting them.

    I like cars that go fast.

    I am not a Prius guy.

    Other people can be. I do not care unless they are blocking my progress.

  • avatar
    stickmaster

    The standard Prius, as a car, makes sense, despite what auto enthusiasts may believe regarding it’s driving dynamics or the imagined “green snob” attitudes of it’s drivers.

    This new Prius v doesn’t make sense to me. Who is it for? Families who want to eat their cake and have it too by driving a fuel efficient car, yet want to take unnecessary trips packing who knows what junk into what is essentially a massive storage bin?

    This is increasingly my problem with the modern world, nobody wants to sacrifice anything. To give up A so that we can have B. Everybody wants to have it all, all the time.

    The end result is going to be this: large, ugly, but “efficient” cars for fat Americans with lots of stuff who like to pretend they are saving money and the environment by buying a car which gets higher mpg. Sort of like the Escalade or Tahoe hybrid, lol.

    • 0 avatar
      Coley

      “my problem with the modern world, nobody wants to sacrifice anything. To give up A so that we can have B. Everybody wants to have it all, all the time.”

      Your problem is not unique to the modern world. This has always been true. The only difference is that, in the modern world, it’s become possible for an ever-increasing portion of the population.

      “Families who want to eat their cake and have it too by driving a fuel efficient car, yet want to take unnecessary trips packing who knows what junk into what is essentially a massive storage bin?”

      I suspect (although I could be wrong on this count) that you don’t have children. Either way, it requires a truly shocking level of sanctimony to criticize a family with two or more children for selecting the slighly larger, somewhat-less-efficient version of the PRIUS for their family travel.

      You certainly wouldn’t think too highly of me–two small kids, hopefully a third, and we’re pricing out the Odyssey. We like space and comfort. I’ll buy my cake and eat it. I don’t need to have it too.

    • 0 avatar
      StatisticalDolphin

      stickmaster wrote:

      “This is increasingly my problem with the modern world, nobody wants to sacrifice anything. To give up A so that we can have B. Everybody wants to have it all, all the time.

      The end result is going to be this: large, ugly, but “efficient” cars for fat Americans with lots of stuff who like to pretend they are saving money and the environment by buying a car which gets higher mpg. Sort of like the Escalade or Tahoe hybrid, lol.”

      The end result is going to be this:tiny, ugly, but “efficient” cars for fat Americans with lots of self-righteousness who like to pretend they are saving money and the environment by buying a car which gets higher mpg. Sort of like when they cause greater environmental harm by clogging the HOV lanes in their single occupant Priusmobiles and destroy the incentive for carpooling and vanpooling commuters who are actually trying to help the environment, lol.

  • avatar
    perpetuity

    Q: Where do you find more hate on TTAC than on a Mini review?

    A: The Prius review pages

    Disclosure: Mini ’04 owner and still loving it 90k later.

  • avatar

    I think one of the greatest things on this car that Toyota did respond to is the rear view. The only two things I don’t like about the previous model is the rear view and no power seats. The picture in the article even displays a nice view in the rearview mirror which looks realistic. Regarding the backseat, I would have to sit in it to agree because the pros seem to outway the cons. I have not seen a hybrid vehicle that has a backseat this spacious yet. If you look at great vehicles such as the Forrester, the back seat looks a lot bigger in the Prius. http://bestgreencar.com

  • avatar
    Leo45

    After 2 tough winters in Southeast PA, I was wondering how a hybrid handles in the snow? I’m getting close to replacing my ’99 civic coupe, which the only thing I never liked about it was how it handles in the snow.

    • 0 avatar
      brian_va

      I currently have a Highlander. I’m planning to add a Prius v as a second car. I live out in the country and will need to keep a 4/AWD. My introduction to the Prius was when about 40 people drove to the top of a mountain through a woods with damp leaves. Everybody made it up except for two Prii, whose occupants I gave a ride. I’m guessing FWD with a lot of battery weight in back. Anyhow, I’m expecting it to be immobile in snow.

  • avatar
    Quentin

    Test drove one last week. While not looking that much larger than the Prius side by side, it seems to have much, much more space inside compared to my previous test drives in a regular Prius. I’m still unsure of what we’ll end up buying, but the v made a very strong case for itself. It was planted, easy to drive, and comfortable. Fitting a rear facing child’s seat won’t be a problem and the sliding and reclining 2nd row makes things a little more configurable. The display audio/Entune was slick and very easy to sync w/ my iphone 4. For someone looking to start a family, it seems like it will be a great vehicle.


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