2015 Prius v New Car Test Drive
The v in the Prius v could stand for versatility. Introduced as a 2012 model, the Toyota Prius v uses the same powertrain as in the Prius liftback, but with 58 percent more cargo space.
Prius v is 5.3 inches longer than the Prius liftback, 3.3 inches higher, and 1.2 inches wider, and it rides on widened and re-proptioned track. Like the original Prius liftback, the Prius v pairs a 1.8-liter four-cylinder gas engine to an electric motor, for a total combined power output of 134 horsepower. The battery pack, like other non-plug-in Prius models, is nickel-metal hydride. The continuously variable transmission (CVT) is the same one used in the original Prius. We found it functional, but boring.
For 2013, Prius v gained a SoftTex synthetic leather steering wheel on its top-of-the-line model. There have been no additional changes for 2014.
Like other Prius models, the most compelling reason to buy a V is fuel economy. But because it's 230 pounds heavier than the original liftback, the V isn't as efficient. It loses 8 miles per gallon to the tune of an EPA-estimated 44/40 mpg City/Highway and 42 mpg combined, compared with 51/48 mpg city/highway and 50 mpg combined on 87 octane regular gasoline.
The added weight means Prius v also loses performance: It takes 10.4 long seconds to accelerate from 0 to 60 mph, compared with Toyota's estimate of 9.8 seconds for the lethargic Prius liftback. Those are not impressive numbers. But although the Prius v is slower, thirstier and more expensive, it's is still a compelling choice for families looking for an efficient wagon/crossover with lots of functionality.
Prius v is a handsome vehicle, resembling a swoopy small minivan, not unlike the Mazda5, or maybe like a big Honda Fit without the sharp edges. The nose sweeps sharply up to the A pillars and roof. Toyota engineers paid careful aerodynamic attention to the bumpers, corners and roofline, as well as rocker panels, mirrors, wheels and wheelcovers, and it shows in the form of a drag coefficient of 0.29, which very sleek for a wagon or crossover.
With 34.3 cubic feet, Prius v offers more cargo space than 80 percent of the compact SUVs and mid-size wagons on the market. The rear seats slide back for legroom, or forward to increase cargo space; they also recline, and there's an optional panoramic roof for sky-watching. The front seat folds flat, like the Honda Fit or Jeep Patriot. With that extra 3.3 inches of height and long rear doors, it's very easy to climb in and out of the back.
Prius v handles and corners well, and we found it easier to drive around town than the liftback. Unfortunately, ride quality is quite firm. You feel every bump in this car, and it's soon irritating. Another major drawback, which we've found in all Prius models, is the noisy cabin. The V has added floor rigidity over the original Prius, which helps reduce interior noise, but it's still surprisingly buzzy. Sound deadening material adds weight, which reduces fuel efficiency.
While there aren't any direct competitors to the Toyota Prius v, the new Ford C-Max hybrid hatchback boasts better driving dynamics and a better interior with slightly better fuel economy. However, the C-Max doesn't offer as much cargo space as the Prius v does.
The 2014 Toyota Prius v comes in three models: Two, Three, and Five.
All Prius v models use a 98-horsepower (@ 5200 rpm) 1.8-liter 4-cylinder Atkinson cycle gas engine and an 80-hp electric motor fed by a nickel-metal hydride battery pack, with the hybrid power mated to a continuously variable transmission (CVT). The combined horsepower is 134. Toyota doesn't publish a figure for combined torque (sadly, as it sure would be interesting), but the gas motor alone produces 105 lb-ft @ 4000 rpm, and the electric motor 153 lb-ft @ 0.
Prius v Two ($26,750) comes standard with fabric seats, 6-way adjustable driver seat, 60/40 split sliding reclining fold-down rear seat, fold-flat front passenger seat, under-floor cargo storage area, tonneau cover, automatic climate control with dust and pollen filters, two 12-volt power outlets, five cupholders, tilt/telescopic steering wheel with controls, cruise control, 6-inch touch-screen with backup camera, six-speaker AM/FM/CD/MP3 audio system with USB port and iPod connectivity, hands-free phone capability, full power, Smart Key system, digital instrumentation, EV/Eco/Power modes, auto-off projector-beam halogen headlamps, 16-inch alloy wheels with wheel covers, LED taillamps and brake lights, power heated folding sideview mirrors, UV reduction glass windshield, and rear spoiler with LED brake light.
Prius v Three ($27,515) adds Navigation with Entune multi-media music and information suite, plus SiriusXM and HD radio. A panoramic moonroof with power sunshades is the only option ($1,180)
Prius v Five ($30,395) adds 17-inch alloy wheels, SofTex synthetic leather upholstery and steering wheel, heated front seats, auto on/off LED headlamps with level control and cleaners, foglamps, enhanced Smart Key system, and an auto-dimming rearview mirror with HomeLink.
Exclusive to Prius v is the optional Advanced Technology Package ($5,650), which upgrades to Premium HDD navigation; eight-speaker JBL Green Edge audio; Advanced Parking Guidance System; Dynamic Radar Cruise Control; Pre-Collision system; Safety Connect with emergency assistance, stolen vehicle locator, roadside assistance, and automatic collision notification; and the panoramic moonroof.
Safety features includes Toyota's Star Safety System, encompassing Enhanced Vehicle Stability Control, Active Traction Control, ABS with electronic brake-force distribution, Brake Assist, and Smart Stop Technology; seven airbags; whiplash-lessening seats, tire pressure monitor, LATCH child seat system, and hill start assist. We recommend the optional Safety Connect system.