Report: Toyota to limit U.S. Prius V to five seats, other markets seat seven

2012 Toyota Prius V – Click above for the high-res image gallery

The Prius V is set to go on sale in the third quarter of this year, but the model being sold in the U.S. won't be the same as the European and Japanese versions. The New York Times reports that the hybrid wagon will come with only two rows of seating here in the U.S., while three rows will be offered overseas.

Toyota spokesman John Hanson gives several reasons for this decision, but two stick out above all others. Perhaps most important is the fact that the U.S. version of the V will come only with a nickel-metal-hydride battery pack, which takes up a lot of room in the hybrid's hind-quarters to offer a sufficient third row. The Euro and JDM models will feature lithium tech, which is smaller and more compact.

Another reason for the move is cost. Hanson points out that foregoing the third row and using the same battery tech as the current Prius helps keep cost down, which should make the fuel-sipping MPV more attainable to the masses. In Japan, the Prius V with lithium will reportedly be priced about $8,000 higher than the nickel-metal-hydride model.

So will the lack of a third row be a big problem for the Prius V? We doubt it, especially as we would expect the third row to be very tight for America's typically larger builds. In the end, however, consumers could have the last word on the subject. If it turns out that green-conscious buyers do want that third row more than Toyota is expecting, Hanson claims that both versions could be made available at some point.

2012 Toyota Prius V
2012 Toyota Prius V
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[Source: The New York Times]

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