By on November 20, 2017

2016_Toyota_Prius_v, Image: Toyota

Okay, the “V” stood for “versatility,” but the largest Toyota Prius family member’s obvious usefulness hasn’t earned it a lasting place in the American automotive landscape. After arriving for the 2012 model year, the lengthened hybrid, which boasted 50 percent more interior volume than its Prius sibling, will disappear from the U.S. after 2017.

Early sales of the Prius V significantly bolstered the volume of the hybrid family, which also includes the Vrtucar-approved Prius C. However, the model’s first full year of sales proved to be the V’s high water mark. Sales declined each year thereafter, and much of the blame rests on another vehicle in the Toyota showroom.

Confirmed by Green Car Reports, the 2017 model year will be the Prius V’s last in the U.S. and Puerto Rico.

“After six years and nearly 160,000 units sold in the U.S., the decision was made to end Prius V production for the U.S. and Puerto Rico this December,” said Toyota’s East Coast communications manager, Corey Proffitt.

Marketed as a midsize MPV in its home market, the Prius V appeared as a large-ish five-door variant of the popular third-generation Prius. Indeed, the model was larger in all dimensions. Five inches longer and an inch wider that a stock Prius, the V offered more legroom and headroom, especially in the rear, and offered 34.3 cubic feet of rear cargo area. That meant a 10-cubic-foot gain over an entry-level Prius.

2016_Toyota_Prius_v, Image: Toyota

Naturally, the nameplate’s renowned fuel economy suffered. At the time of its debut, the EPA assigned a combined fuel efficiency rating of 42 miles per gallon, some 8 mpg less than its smaller sibling. American sales in 2012 amounted to 40,669 units, dropping to 14,840 in 2016. Over the first 10 months of 2017, sales are down 33 percent compared to the same period last year.

So, why did it suddenly become so hard to sell a hybrid?

Besides the pressure placed on traditional hybrids by their sexier plug-in rivals, the second year of U.S. Prius V production coincided with the introduction of Ford’s C-Max, in both hybrid and plug-in form. (Say goodbye to the C-Max while you’re shedding a tear over the Prius V.)

The biggest blow to the Prius V came from within the Toyota family, however. The downfall of the wagon-ish Prius V came as the popularity of compact crossovers soared, and America’s most popular hybrid crossover just happens to be the RAV4 Hybrid. Despite travelling nearly 10 fewer miles per gallon on the combined cycle, the RAV4 hybrid has three things even green car buyers can’t resist: a taller ride height, all-wheel drive, and a brawnier appearance.

Many of the 45,000 sales recorded in the RAV4 Hybrid’s first model year (2016) likely came from buyers who, a few years earlier, would have happily driven home in a Prius V.

Proffitt claims the Prius V, built on the older New MC platform (the fourth-gen Prius adopts Toyota’s TNGA modular platform), will continue in some markets. Assume a long life in Japan, where the model remains a raging success. As of press time, TTAC hasn’t been able to confirm the Prius V’s departure from the Canadian market, though the model remains the only Toyota vehicle that hasn’t adopted 2018 pricing on the division’s website.

[Image: Toyota]

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41 Comments on “Another Hybrid Bites the Dust: Toyota Prius V Packs It in After VI Model Years...”


  • avatar
    sportyaccordy

    Looks like a modern Nissan Stanza Axxess. No thank you, said the market

  • avatar
    PrincipalDan

    Only rode in one of these as a taxi cab in Little Rock, AR. Decent ride other than the fact that the driver had smoked in it at some point.

  • avatar
    gearhead77

    Perhaps had it been more van-like or more wagon-like ( Mazda 5, Transit Connect,old Colt Vista) it would have found more of a market. But given the mass gravitation to “MOAR CROSSOVER” probably not. In a distant way, much like the Dodge Magnum and Cadillac CTS wagon, there’s not much extra utility over the standard Prius to justify this thing. But I’d rather the other two exist over this thing.

  • avatar
    SCE to AUX

    I always liked the v, particularly in the blue trim shown in the photo.

    But, like most people, I didn’t buy one.

    • 0 avatar
      Nick_515

      so did I. I’d much, much rather have seen the demise of the C, compared to the V. Oh well. The article does a good job putting its demise in context.

      • 0 avatar
        TwoBelugas

        I would rather see Prius C continue as a budget option. IN my area the C starts around 17k while the V starts around 24k. The C is really a good option for people who need a small and inexpensive gas sipper.

        • 0 avatar
          deanst

          The C has gotten some of the worst reviews I’ve seen – similar to the insight. But I’d still like to give it a try.

          • 0 avatar
            TwoBelugas

            The reviews all seem to lament the lack of driving dynamics of the C. But it does what it is supposed to do, a well-under-20k street starting price for a very reliable high mpg run-about. Considering they are practically giving them away such that you can get them for cheaper than 4 door yaris’s, I don’t know what the auto-jounalists really expected.

          • 0 avatar

            Pro tip: put it in “B” mode, accelerator response becomes downright angry!

            For odd reasons, I once drove a Prius C at something near autocross pace during two 45-minute sessions. It was fully at its limit being hustled like that, but you know what they say about driving a slow car fast.

  • avatar
    ttacgreg

    Square off the nose, increase ride height by two inches, equip it with the E 4wd, put on some big butch tires, throw in an outdoorsy tough sounding name, jack up the price a few thousand,and VIOLA! It would be a sales hit in out silly image driven car market.

  • avatar
    BC

    Speaks to the diminishing returns of fuel economy improvements at the higher levels of efficiency. A Prius V has 8 mpg improvement over Rav4 hybrid. Assuming 12k miles a year and $2.50/gal gas that’s only $114 a year saved in fuel. By comparison, a tahoe (13mpg) vs tahoe hybrid (20-21 mpg) – also about 8mpg improvement (I’m being generous here) – would save approximately $875 a year.

    • 0 avatar
      gtem

      This is an unfortunate function of our fuel economy measurement units (distance divided by a fixed amount of fuel) versus the European method of varying amounts of fuel divided by a fixed distance (L/100km). The latter makes the scenario you described much more obvious to tell apart.

      • 0 avatar
        jalop1991

        Only to people who suck at math.

        Otherwise, the MPG mechanism works just fine.

        And I don’t care about people who suck at math. That’s their problem that they can’t see obvious things like percentage gains.

        • 0 avatar
          Thinkin...

          Thinking in terms of mpg “percentage gains” is exactly the problem. In those terms, going from 50mpg to 100mpg in a Prius seems awesome and totally worthwhile, whereas going from 8mpg to 9mpg in a rig seems pedantic, and not worth the effort.

          However, solve the above for dollars per year, and you’ll see why “people who suck at math” aren’t the problem; it’s that mpg as a metric isn’t particularly intuitive.

    • 0 avatar
      Jacob

      That’s exactly the problem with Prius. The old and the current generation Prius were worse equipped than similarly priced Honda Accord (to get a Prius with power seats, you need to get the model with MSRP around 29K). At the current gas prices, it just doesn’t make any sense. Having said that, buying a Prius, specially a base model is still fairly sensible purchase because it’s a Toyota. We have a Prius in our home and it made to 130k miles without any service or repairs except for oil changes, and rides like new (and the new one of course rides like a tin can..)

  • avatar
    Scoutdude

    I doubt that the RAV-4 had any significant effect on the V’s sales. I know a person who just bought a RAV-4 Hybrid a few months ago. Despite the fact that they also own a Prius C the V was not on the radar at all but other CUVs like the CR-V were.

    • 0 avatar
      gtem

      I think you’re right, the Rav4 is an easy step to take for regular compact crossover shoppers, prices right now make it easy to make the small jump pricewise to the Hybrid even though gas prices are relatively low. I personally seriously question the capabilities of the i-4wd system or whatever they call it in any scenario where the car gets stuck and needs to do a bit of back and forth wheel spinning. The older Toyota hybrid 4wds prioritize preventing damage to the hardware, and will shut things down with traction control very quickly, leaving you stuck. At least the regular Rav4 still retains a viscous coupling lock, last I checked.

      • 0 avatar
        Heino

        RAV4 AWD-i is biased 70-30. I consider it to be FWD with a tailwind.

        • 0 avatar
          Scoutdude

          The RAV4 Hybrid AWD system is not biased as there is no mechanical connection from the engine to the rear wheels, or between the front motors and rear wheels. The rear is powered by its own motor and its output is limited by the available current to it. So it can actually send up to 60% of the total system power applied to the rear wheels. http://blog.toyota.co.uk/rav4-hybrid-e-four-all-wheel-drive As such it does quite well in the slippery stuff as witnessed here in the most difficult test of a fwd based, slip then grip AWD system. https://www.torquenews.com/1083/can-2016-toyota-rav4-hybrid-s-odd-awd-system-really-handle-snow

          • 0 avatar
            Heino

            The max output of the rear electric motor is 67HP, while total output is 194 HP. The ICE is rated at 141HP, but peaks at different times than the electric. I am amazed at how 67HP which is 34% of the total can generate up to 60% of power without a connecting drive shaft. Does the engine drop its output to 118 HP so we get this 60% number?

          • 0 avatar
            Heino

            My bad. Your numbers make sense. Time to go to sleep.

          • 0 avatar
            Heino

            My bad is bad, I stick with my math.

          • 0 avatar
            Scoutdude

            Note the point about the available system power. When slippage is occurring when starting out or climbing a moderate slope that is slippery full system power is not indicated and thus not applied. So the system may at some point use all 67 of those rear wheel horses but limit the power applied to the front wheels to ~45 ponies.

            So for example say you can only apply 50hp w/o slipping the system is set up to allow that to be 30 hp to the rear wheels and 20 hp to the front or if the conditions are right 0hp to the rear and 50hp to the front.

            It is also important to note that all of the “motors” in the Toyota or Ford Hybrid systems are referred to as MGs or Motor/Generators because they spend a lot of time generating electricity too. So instead of contributing to power applied to the wheels they are extracting power from the engine. For example in a steady state cruise mode with a battery in its target SOC range the traction MG operates in generator mode to supply the power the range MG needs to create the gear ratio and link between the engine and wheels and if the battery SOC is low charge it as well.

            So I suspect that there will be many times when the front traction MG is extracting the energy required from the engine to power the rear traction MG as well as the range MG.

      • 0 avatar
        NormSV650

        Toyota hibrids, at least Lexus, are battery operated reverse.

        • 0 avatar
          Scoutdude

          Any hybrid that uses the E-cvt which means current and past Ford and Toyota hybrids are electric reverse, not battery operated reverse. Yes if the ICE was already off and the required torque is low it can reverse solely on battery power. However if the demand is high and/or the battery is low and/or the ICE was already running the system uses the range MG to generate electricity to supplement the battery. However at no time does the engine mechanically drive the vehicle in reverse.

          • 0 avatar
            brandloyalty

            I want everyone to know that Scoutdude understands these hybrid things far better than any automotive journalist. Who are remarkably ignorant about the finer points of how hybrids work. The real test is to explain how the Prius eCVT works.

            It’s a shame auto journalists just note whether a cuv or suv has awd in their reviews. They almost never describe the system, and never evaluate comparative awd capability. How I wish some imaginative car journo would take a Rav4 Hybrid and an awd Escape Hybrid and see how they compare in sand, snow and rick crawling. The awd Escape uses a power transfer unit on the eCVT, a driveshaft that always rotates, and an electronic variable clutch in the rear axle. So this is very different from the Rav4 Hybrid’s rear drive. How they stack up for rugged use would be very interesting – for maybe 10 people.

            Computers and sensors decide how much to engage the Escape’s rear wheels, and you can shut off the traction control if you want to churn through anything.

            Like the Rav4 Hybrid and the Prius’s, the Escape’s eCVT has no way to provide gas engine power directly to the rear wheels. So reverse is electric only, but which sometimes means the gas engine running to generate electricity for the drivetrain while in reverse.

            I’ve never heard of anyone finding this setup lacking power. However there is a theoretical problem. If you are stopped with the rear wheels against something like a parking lot divider and try to back over it, the car will not respond. Electric motors with current going through them but not turning will melt the insulation on the windings and short circuit. So if the electric motor won’t turn because the car won’t move backwards because it’s against an obstruction, the system just cuts the power. And there you sit. This happened to me once in a bit of a ditch but I was able to Escape by going forward.

            Now, what were we talking about? Oh yes, thr Prius V cancellation. What are the Vanvouver airport cabbies going to do?

          • 0 avatar
            Scoutdude

            @ Brandloyalty, Thanks very much.

            Back when Hybrids were still a “new” thing and the only ones on the market were the Prius, Insight, and the just introduced Escape I was still turning wrenches. The local wholesaler had a training program where they would have experts in a particular field come in and give classes renting a room at the local community college or hotel. When I saw the flyer that said they would have a Hybrid class I knew I needed to take it because I knew that they were here to stay at that point.

            The teacher of the class had actual been the head Prius trainer and trouble shooter for the west coast. If there was a Prius certified Toyota tech on the west coast at the time he had trained them. When there was a failure they would fly him to the vehicle to inspect and determine the proper action. So pretty much no one knew Hybrids better at the time.

            H left Toyota and had started a business traveling around the country giving these classes. Even though he had started at Toyota he knew and we covered the Insight and Escape too. He had lots of slides showing the mechanical and electrical power flows under every single operating condition. He also had the innards, less diff, of a early Prius eCVT. So we got to play with the planetary gear set and see exactly how it all worked in cold hard steel and copper.

            I know exactly what you mean about trying to back over of curb. I was trying to back up onto a sidewalk in our Escape to deliver something heavy closer to its destination and it just wouldn’t go. I had to take a bit of a run at it which was a little disconcerting. I also rand into a problem in our Fusion Hybrid trying to back up a very steep driveway. That took a very careful turning around and a balls out run in forward to make it up with out wheel spin on the slippery driveway with FWD.

            In just a few minutes I’m actually heading out to pick up the 3rd Ford Hybrid we will have owned and this time it is a C-Max.

  • avatar
    scott25

    It’ll be back in the form of something more crossover-ish, to battle the Niro. I thought I remembered seeing spy shots of the next gen one recently.

  • avatar
    gtem

    I think this is a fantastic car in search of a better engine. I’m willing to bet that if the Camry Hybrid’s powertrain were dropped in the MPG would not suffer much, but acceleration would improve substantially. My wife and I test drove on back in ’12 when we were dating and her dad was buying her a car as a graduation gift for straight-As. With the three of us and a larger salesman in the car, on-ramp acceleration was quite tepid and unpleasant. In the smaller Prius and with fewer occupants the smaller Toyota HSD is tolerable. It is simply overmatched in the V with people onboard.

    There are some screaming deals on lightly used (and new) Vs right now from what I’ve seen, if you can deal with the slow acceleration then you can have a fantastically well put together, reliable, roomy and useful wagon that just happens to be a hybrid. I know people like the C-Max around these parts for the exact opposite reasons (good power and ride/handling at the expense of most everything else), but if utility and reliability are the name of the game, I think the Prius V makes a strong case for itself. Then again, if I were shopping for a wagon-ish non-CUV thing right now, I’d have a hard time not getting a Golf Sportwagen, VAG-reputation and Puebla assembly be damned.

    • 0 avatar
      PandaBear

      A Camry hybrid setup will totally kill its fuel economy. This body is much taller and wider than a Prius and it took a 15mpg hit on the fuel economy. Putting a Camry hybrid setup in it will likely drop it from a 39mpg to a 34mpg setup.

  • avatar
    brettc

    I think I see less Prius Vs on the road here in southern Maine that C-Maxes, so it’s quite a rare car in some areas. On the other hand, there are thousands of Run about vehicles, Slowbarus and regular Prii meandering about the roads.

  • avatar
    PandaBear

    A Prius v2 owner here. Got it as a left over 2014 model in Feb 2015, $5k off MSRP ($21399 before TTL). Dealer told me it was on the lot for 6 months and really wanted to get rid of it. People don’t want it because its fuel economy is not as good as a real Prius. Then again, a real Prius won’t fit all the stuff like stroller and kids stuff on a road trip like a v.

    My wife coming from an IS250 love it. I like that it is practical for a family of 4 and it is just the right size. It is not fast at all, but we don’t drive that fast anyways. Many other family of 4 here has it and it is actually very popular for “practical” family. Then again, this is not among a group that has a keeping up with the Jones mentality.

    I will not pay another $10k and 10mpg less to get into a crossover.

    • 0 avatar
      Featherston

      Good buy, PandaBear.

      I think the V is a victim of its practical nature. Buyers attracted to the V don’t strike me as people who trade their cars in on a whim; i.e., those who want a V already have one.

      It’s too bad. I ride in cabs fairly frequently and I’d peg the Prius V as having the best back seat in America’s current, collective big-city cab fleet. The C-Max would be second, and whatever’s third (Camry Hybrid, I feel like) is a distant third.

      I confess I’ve never sat in a V in non-cab form. To what degree it’s nicer, I’m not sure. I give it huge points for headroom, low sills (by 2017 standards), and reclining back seats.

      To my mind, it and the C-Max are the two best vehicles going for a family of four in which the two kids are junior high or high-school aged. The V would be great if you had two 6′ teenaged sons.

      I only know one Prius V family: a great-aunt and great-uncle who upgraded from a regular Prius because they have frequent house guests and wanted more room for ferrying people around. They love it and will recommend it to anyone who listens.

  • avatar
    kcflyer

    To get a Prius V with a sunroof I was told I had to get the most expensive trim in the line and then add the most expensive option package. Otherwise there would be one of these in my garage today. At the time it effectively made the sunroof a $4000 option.

  • avatar
    dal20402

    My neighbor has a loaded 2016 Prius V. She was intrigued by our C-Max Energi and asked about it when we first moved in, but 1) I don’t get the feeling she’d seriously consider a domestic brand and 2) she parks the Prius on the street so getting a charger to it would be a challenge.

  • avatar
    brandloyalty

    Amazing!! An article about a hybrid and so far not a single scornful hybrid myth in the comments. In fact, several favorable comments. Another 5 years and maybe ev’s will recieve fair and polite coverage.

  • avatar
    Sjalabais

    In my neck of the woods, this is called the Prius+ and it loses basically no value. One of the best new cars to buy if you are concerned about resale. I have been considering replacing my Honda Stream with a Prius+, but I’ve never driven one and they are too pricey to buy to make any sense.

    • 0 avatar
      dima

      Same where I live. 2 years old Prius+ cost almost the same as a new one. Where I live, general population does not show love to Japanese car makers, and no I do not live in China ;).

  • avatar
    tekdemon

    Honestly if this thing had the third row it does in Japan and came with the hybrid powertrain from the Camry with a little more oomph it’d have sold a LOT better.

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