Toyota has been in the hybrid automobile business longer than just about anyone. Both Honda and Toyota have been offering hybrid gas/electric vehicles more than a decade but only Toyota and its Prius line, including the new Prius v, has grown so much it not only outsells mainstream models but has evolved into a family all its own: Prii.
The Prii family consists of the original Prius (which is now in its third-generation model line in the States) and Toyota has added three more models to the genus: Prius v (the “green” family truckster), Prius c (the cute little city compact) and the Prius Plug-in. As a reminder, Prius, in latin, means “to go before.”
The Prius v (read “vee” and not roman numeral five) is the family wagon model of the Prii and uses the same Synergy Hybrid Drive system as a base Prius – a 98hp 1.8-liter four-cylinder gasoline engine mated to a pair of permanent magnet motors, one serving as the primary drive motor connected to the power split transaxle and the other as the electric power source. Maximum drive voltage for the system is 650 volts DC and the series-parallel hybrid system overall is rated at 134 horsepower.
Prius v seats five fairly comfortably and features extra cargo space behind the second row of seating. The significance of the “v” is to denote versatility, hence its lower case nature in all writings.
While battery composition is ever-evolving in the automotive segment, Toyota has chosen to remain with Nickel Metal Hydride in most of its hybrid vehicles. For the Prius v the battery pack consists of 168 1.2V cells that are packaged underneath the forward portion of the cargo floor with its cooling duct routed underneath the rear seats.
Four driving modes are offered in Prius v: EV-only, Eco, normal and Power. Many drivers will find themselves staying away from the anemic Eco mode instead opting for normal and Power. Fuel economy suffers accordingly as most will never get close to the EPA ratings of 44 mpg city and 40 mpg highway. Expect something in the neighborhood of a combined experience netting about 37-38 mpg average. Factory window tint would be a big help on sunny days as all this glass quickly heats the interior, thus requiring extended use of the AC.
Given the larger physical size of the Prius v, Toyota engineers have added the Pitch and Bounce Control feature that works to provide a smoother overall ride experience and keeping things well under control even when loaded with passengers and cargo.
Prius v is the car for those individuals who have grown up with Prius and now find themselves with a growing family but still wish to maintain some sort of environmental responsibility, especially if your travels keep you in town more than on the open roads. Other buyers will include those seeking “greener” pastures in their lifestyles.
Prius v offers a comfortable, safe driving experience with all the latest technologies including the EnTune multimedia system with fully integrated access to navigation, entertainment and information services along with a suite of mobile apps.
Toyota offers Prius v with mid-grade trim levels and above which translates to buyers still paying more for hybrid vehicles than gas counterparts, although in the case of the Prius there is no direct gas counterpart. Pricing for the Prius v Five Model like we tested begins at $30,295 with this tester arriving at $36,955 and because the automaker sells so many hybrid vehicles those days of rebates are long, long gone.