Another Hybrid Bites the Dust: Toyota Prius V Packs It in After VI Model Years

Steph Willems
by Steph Willems
another hybrid bites the dust toyota prius v packs it in after vi model years

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.

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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  • Sjalabais Sjalabais on Nov 21, 2017

    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.

    • Dima Dima on Nov 21, 2017

      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 ;).

  • Tekdemon Tekdemon on Nov 21, 2017

    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.

  • Lou_BC "They are the worst kind of partisan - the kind that loves their team more than they want to know the truth."Ummm...yeah....Kinda like birtherism, 2020 election stolen, vast voter fraud, he can have top secret documents at Mar-lago, he's a savvy business man, and hundreds more.
  • FreedMike This article fails to mention that Toyota is also investing heavily in solid state battery tech - which would solve a lot of inherent EV problems - and plans to deploy it soon. course, Toyota being Toyota, it will use the tech in hybrids first, which is smart - that will give them the chance to iron out the wrinkles, so to speak. But having said that, I’m with Toyota here - I’m not sold on an all EV future happening anytime soon. But clearly the market share for these vehicles has nowhere to go but up; how far up depends mainly on charging availability. And whether Toyota’s competitors are all in is debatable. Plenty of bet-hedging is going on among makers in the North American market.
  • Jeff S I am not against EVs but I completely understand Toyota's position. As for Greenpeace putting Toyota at the bottom of their environmental list is more drama. A good hybrid uses less gas, is cleaner than most other ICE, and is more affordable than most EVs. Prius has proven longevity and low maintenance cost. Having had a hybrid Maverick since April and averaging 40 to 50 mpg in city driving it has been smooth driving and very economical. Ford also has very good hybrids and some of the earlier Escapes are still going strong at 300k miles. The only thing I would have liked in my hybrid Maverick would be a plug in but it didn't come with it. If Toyota made a plug in hybrid compact pickup like the Maverick it would sell well. I would consider an EV in the future but price, battery technology, and infrastructure has to advance and improve. I don't buy a vehicle based on the recommendation of Greenpeace, as a status symbol, or peer pressure. I buy a vehicle on what best needs my needs and that I actually like.
  • Mobes Kind of a weird thing that probably only bothers me, but when you see someone driving a car with ball joints clearly about to fail. I really don't want to be around a car with massive negative camber that's not intentional.
  • Jeff S How reliable are Audi? Seems the Mazda, CRV, and Rav4 in the higher trim would not only be a better value but would be more reliable in the long term. Interior wise and the overall package the Mazda would be the best choice.