Staff Writer - CheersandGears.com
November 27, 2013
Back in the late nineties and early 2000s, hybrid vehicles were seen as being on the fringe of the automotive marketplace. Built with fuel economy in mind, the first hybrid vehicles were for those who wanted to stand out while getting impressive fuel economy. Fast forward to today and hybrid vehicles are now part of the mainstream. A number of manufacturers are offering hybrids in different types of vehicles. From compact cars all the way to luxury SUVs.
But not every type of vehicle has a hybrid model. For example, there are no compact crossovers that offer a hybrid option. Somewhat weird when you consider the compact crossover class is currently the hot thing in the marketplace. Instead, some automakers are going with small vans/wagons for a hybrid with more space.
Case in point, the 2013 Toyota Prius V. Introduced back in 2011, the Prius V takes the formula of the standard Prius and puts it into a larger package. Does this formula work though?
The model seen here is the Prius V Two, the base model in the Prius V lineup. When I first got in and looked around, the song 'Bare Necessities' from The Jungle Book played in my head. The Two model looks and feels bare. Stepping inside, you are surrounded by the color grey from the door panels to the seats. It was too much grey for my taste. Materials in the Prius V range from textured hard plastics on the dashboard to vinyl on the door panels and the lid of the top glove box. I'm ok with the hard plastics, but the vinyl is an odd choice.
The front seats are very plush and provide the driver and passenger the basic adjustments to get themselves situated. I was wishing for a bit more support from the seats for longer trips as I was feeling pain in my lower back. Passengers in the back will find loads of head and legroom. Plus, passengers can move the seat forward and back, and recline to make themselves comfortable.
Cargo space in the Prius V is huge. With the back seats up, you'll find 34.3 to 40.2 cubic feet of space. This is dependent on how far forward the back seat is. Fold the rear seats down and you have 67.3 cubic feet of space. Compared to its closest competitor the Ford C-Max Hybrid, the Prius V has about 9.8 to 15.7 cubic feet of more space with the seats up and 14.7 cubic feet more with the seats folded.
Onto the next page for powertrain and ride impressions.
Powering the Prius V is the same Hybrid Synergy Drive powertrain that you'll find in a regular Prius. You have a 1.8L four-cylinder engine (98 horsepower and 105 lb-ft of torque) paired with a 60 kW electric motor. Total output of this system stands at 134 horsepower. A Nickel-Metal Hydride battery pack provides power to the electric motor while a continuously variable transmission makes sure all of the power gets to the front wheels.
The Prius V's powertain feels very overwhelmed. This is due to the V weighing 232 pounds more than the standard Prius. Leaving a stop or trying to make a pass, I found the powertrain was better at making noise than actual power. I really do think an extra 15 to 20 in horsepower and torque would really help out.
The Prius V also features three different drive modes: Eco, Power, and EV. Eco cuts back on the available power from the hybrid system in a effort to boost fuel economy. Power increases throttle response and uses all available power from the system. EV allows the Prius V to travel a short distance on electric power only. During my week, I found myself using Power to get up to speed at a decent rate, while using EV mode to drive around in my neighborhood without using any gas.
EPA rates the 2013 Toyota Prius V at 44 City/40 Highway/42 Combined. During my week long test, I saw an average of 43 MPG.
The Prius V redeems itself somewhat in ride and handling. The suspension does a great job of ironing out bumps and providing a smooth ride for passengers. Steering is provided by electrically-power assisted system and it provides decent feel and weight for normal driving. This isn't the vehicle to go for an exuberant drive as the Prius V's handling is somewhat sloppy with the soft suspension tuning and the low-rolling resistance tires.
Much like the Prius I had last fall, the Prius V exhibits the same abundance of road and wind noise no matter if you are driving in the neighborhood or go out onto the freeway. I'm really wishing Toyota addresses this with the next-generation Prius V.
Is a bigger Prius a good thing? It really comes down to your priorities. If you're looking for a hybrid vehicle that delivers impressive fuel economy numbers while having a surprising amount space, then you should consider the Prius V. Otherwise, the negatives such as abundant road and wind noise, and poor performance have me going towards models like the Ford C-Max Hybrid.
It's a matter of personal preference. The Prius V just doesn't meet mine.
Disclaimer: Toyota Provided the Prius V, Insurance, and One Tank of Gas.
Model: Prius V
Engine: Hybrid Synergy Drive: 1.8L DOHC 16-Valve VVT-i Four-Cylinder, Electric Motor
Driveline: Front-Wheel Drive, CVT
Horsepower @ RPM: 1.8L - 98 @ 5,200; Electric - 80 @ 0
Torque @ RPM: 1.8L - 105 @ 4,000; Electric - 153 @ 0
Fuel Economy: City/Highway/Combined - 44/40/42
Curb Weight: 3,274 lbs
Location of Manufacture: Tsutsumi, Japan
Base Price: $26,650.00
As Tested Price: $27,748.00 (Includes $795.00 Destination Charge)
Carpet Floor Mats & Cargo Mat - $225.00
Cargo Net - $49.00
First Aid Kit - $29.00