And so beings the story of the Prii (Toyota's plural for Prius).
The Prius V was first out of the gate when Toyota started expanding the brand. The Prius V is for those looking for a larger Prius. According to Toyota, the V stands for "versatility." Interior cargo space is more than 50% larger than the current Prius, at 34.3 cubic feet behind the rear seats.
While most of the features remain the same as the standard Prius, the Prius V was first to launch with Entune, Toyota's touchscreen infotainment system. In our experience, we found Entune to be one of the better options out there for connecting your smartphone to your car.
In terms of powertrain, the Prius V has the same 1.8 liter 4-cylinder Hybrid powertrain as the standard Prius, along with the same Ni-MH battery pack. With the additional size and weight of the Prius V, the fuel economy numbers are lower than the standard Prius, but still impressive at 44/40 city/highway mpg. As of March 2013, Toyota has sold almost 60,000 units in the U.S.
The Prius Plug-in hybrid, or PHV, is very simliar to the standard Prius, except that it offers the ability to recharge by plugging in.
For the powertrain, a 4.4 kWh lithium-ion battery is swapped in over the regular Prius' Ni-MH. A total of two batteries units combine to hold a charge from the plug-in process, after these two are depleted, a third battery allows the car to act as a normal hybrid. The motors and hybrid control units are the exact same found in the regular Prius, though weight is said to be about 50 pounds greater.
With a full charge, the battery is capable of 10-15 miles of all electric driving. While that might not seem like a lot, keep in mind that recharging times are also much shorter, clocking in at 2-3 hours on a regular 120V wall outlet and 1.5 hours with a J1772 charging station.
To tell a Plug-in from a regular Prius, you need only look for Plug-In badging or chrome accents on the grille, rear bumper, and door handles. Available features for the PHV model include heads-up display, LED headlamps, JBL audio, Entune, and adaptive cruise control.
The Prius C is a smaller, more fuel-efficient Prius, and was the last to debut in the lineup. Prius C is essentially a Toyota Yaris with a hybrid powertrain. In fact, the 1.5 liter 4-Cylinder gas/electric hybrid powertrain comes from the first Prius, which allowed Toyota to set the cost below $20,000, making it the most affordable hybrid on the market.
The C stands for "city," says Toyota. The smaller Prius is intended for younger buyers living in dense, urban environments where there is a lot of stop-and-go traffic. Its size makes the Prius C easier to park, but it isn't a car you and three friends could easily pile into for a road trip. Although, if you did, you wouldn't have to pull over to fill up as often: the Prius C gets an EPA-rated 53/46 city/highway mpg.
When the Prius C went on sale in early 2012, it quickly became one of Toyota's fastest-selling vehicles. In the first month alone, Toyota sold almost 5,000 units. In November, Consumer Reports gave the Prius C the title of most reliable 2012 model year vehicle according to customer survey data.
These three new models from Toyota offer Prius buyers more variety when looking to buy a hybrid, large and small.