Entries in 2012 Toyota Prius v (1)

Thursday
Jun232011

Quick Drive 2012 Prius v The Next Car In The Prius Family  

Hybrid sales in the U.S. account about 2.5% of total sales, of that amount, 53% of those sales are Toyota Prius’.  There are 16 other car companies building hybrids and 30 other hybrid models on the market, but none of them can hold a candle to the Prius when it comes to sales and market acceptance.  The next question then becomes, is this level of sales all the market will hold, or are their opportunities to expand, sales and a brand.  Toyota is setting out to answer this question with the Prius v. 

There is no doubt, and Toyota executives acknowledge the fact that the Hollywood crowd had a significant impact in getting mainstream people interested in and purchasing Prius’.  However, as families grew, many outgrew their Prius and needed something with more space for said family and their related gear.  Sure some moved up to Toyota’s RAV4 or other crossovers and small SUV’s, but Toyota wanted an option for those that still wanted to drive a hybrid, or something with superior fuel economy.

What they have come up with is the Prius v, the first extension of the Prius family.  While the Prius v looks very similar in size to the current Prius, it is actually larger.  The Prius v has a three inch longer wheelbase, is six inches longer overall, 3 inches taller and one inch wider.  This all adds up to 58% more cargo space for the car which equals or exceeds 80% of CUV’s and small SUV’s in the market.  The extended wheelbase has a noticeable effect on rear seat room.  Rear seats can move forwards and backwards to alter legroom and or cargo area.  With the drivers seat adjusted for a 6’4” person, there is still plenty of room behind the drivers seat for that same 6’4” person to ride comfortably.  The Prius v weighs in at 236 pounds more than the current Prius and has an drag coefficient of .29 versus .25 from the standard Prius.

With additional width and height of the Prius v it makes a difference in how airy the cabin feels.  There is plenty of headroom for front and back seat passengers and the additional shoulder room is welcome.  Three adults should be able to fit comfortably in the back seat.

A few other things of note in the interior.  The Prius v carries the first sunroof offered in the line.  It is made of a resin that is 40% lighter than conventional glass and reflects 99% of all UV rays to keep the interior cooler and materials from fading.  The seat material used is a synthetic leather like surface that has a good feel to it yet is 50% lighter than conventional leather.  Toyota have also worked with JBL Audio on the sound system.  Not only are the related amps and speakers lighter than normal, they also draw less power.  At 100dB, a conventional system might draw 7.6 amps of power, the JBL Green Edge system only draws 3.9 amps.  If you crank up the volume to 105dB that difference grows to 11.7 amps for the conventional system versus 4.8 for the JBL system.  JBL claim that the 120 watt system available int eh Prius v is equal it a 600 watt conventional system.

Also debuting on the Prius v is Toyota’s new telematics system called Entune.  It works with iPhones and Android devices to provide connectivity for the system.  There are apps built into the Entune system, Bing for searching the navigation and other apps, but not the internet, Pandora, Open Table, iHeart Radio and others.  Entune requires that you download the corresponding applications onto your smartphone and then syncs them together to work seamlessly.

If you’ve driven the current generation of Toyota Prius then the driving dynamics of the Prius v will be very familiar.  The Prius v does seem to ride a bit better, tar strips, bumps and pot holes don’t seem as noticeable, the Prius v also rides a bit quieter as well.  We did notice a difference in sound level between the drivers seat and the passengers seat.  In the drivers seat we noticed more wind and road noises then we did in the passengers seat, and the person we did the drive with made the same comments.

Both of us felt that a big culprit to the ride and noise issues were the tires selected for the car.  Just like the standard Prius, the Prius v has low rolling resistance tires that aren’t the most compliant of rubber.  We’d like to see what effect to the mileage a set of “conventional” tires would have, and what difference that would have for the ride and comfort of the car as well.  Tossed into corners the Prius v understeers as you would expect and the back end can get a little light as well, but we don’t believe anyone has illusions of this car being anything resembling sporty.The Prius v has electric steering and while providing a very light feel, provides little feedback.  The front end of the car feels “out there” as in, input goes into the steering wheel and the car turns, but there is no connected feel. 

If you like and enjoy the current Prius then you will like the Prius v as well.  If you are a fan of the Prius, but your family needs more cargo space and room, but your don’t want a traditional crossover or small SUV then this might be your answer.  The Prius v is rated by the EPA at 44 city, 40 highway and 42 combined.  The Prius v is also classified by the EPA as a midsize wagon.  In our 40 mile loop of two lane back roads we saw 41 mpg, and we weren’t taking it easy.

There will be three trim packages available the 2, 3 and 5 which correspond to current Prius options packages.  Other markets will see the Prius v sold as a seven passenger vehicle, but not in North America, Toyota’s market research said that people were more interested in cargo room then extra seating.  Also by going with a five passenger rather than a seven passenger configuration, Toyota were able to charge several thousand dollars less for the vehicle. 

The Prius v will go on sale in the fall with mid October being the target time frame.  Toyota believe that they will be able to sell 25,000 to 30,000 of the Prius v’s a year without having any impact on current Prius sales, pricing when it goes on sale will be slightly higher than the current Prius, but no official pricing has been announced.

If you'd like to see the rest of the photo's for the Prius v please check out the photo gallery