All photos by Toyota
As hybrids become more popular in the marketplace the choices are also getting better for consumers. The Toyota Prius V is another breakthrough for hybrids, offering a ton of space and excellent fuel efficiency.
You can quickly recognize the Prius V as a member of the Prius Hybrid family, and the striking Barcelona Red paint with real spoiler made this wagon a looker. While keeping air resistance low, Toyota didn’t sacrifice styling as the flush surface from the front of the vehicle through the front pillar works with side “aerocorners” for exceptionally clean airflow. Our test model sported LED headlights with auto level control, auto on/off feature front fog lamps, and power folding and heated side mirrors. The combination of the sleek design and 17-inch alloy wheels make for an attractive exterior on the 2012 Prius V.
Active folks are going to fall in love with the interior of the Prius V as this hybrid is very generous with space. There is no doubt that Toyota has it right in that “the Prius V emphasizes overall proportion with spaciousness and flexibility for active families. Comfortable interior space and good visibility have been assisted by a high seating position, ample head room, and an impressive 38-inch couple distance, providing generous rear legroom. A low, wide-opening rear hatch reveals 34.3 cubic feet of cargo space behind the rear seats, making it the most spacious dedicated hybrid vehicle on the market.”
For even more space for loading whatever it is you choose, the Prius V’s sliding second row seats allow for easier ingress and egress and rear-storage flexibility, with a 45-degree recline for greater comfort. We appreciated such options as the 7-inch touch screen back up camera and display audio, navigation, Entune, XM radio, USB and Bluetooth, rear bench seat with armrest and adjustable headrests, digital instrumentation with trip info, softex heated front seats with power lumbar, climate control, remote keyless entry and push button start, tilt/telescopic steering wheel with controls, 8 JBL GreenEdge speakers, advanced voice recognition, text to speech with programmed text responses, and a Panoramic view moon roof with power sunshades for a totally incredible view of above. The overall feel of the interior is pretty conservative with top notch fit and feel of the interior surfaces.
The V stands for “versatility,” and that includes driving preference and how the driver wants the Prius V to perform. The Prius V utilizes the same proven Hybrid Synergy Drive system as the third-generation Prius, with the advantages of high mileage, low emissions, and never needing to be recharged, and that’s a big plus for us. We learned from Toyota that “the Hybrid Synergy Drive system in the Prius V is essentially the same as the current third-generation Prius. The system uses two high-output motors: one 60kw (80 hp) unit that mainly works to power the compact, lightweight transaxle, and another, smaller motor that mainly works as the electric power source. Maximum motor drive voltage is 650 volts DC. The proven and practical nickel-metal hydride battery pack is the same as on the third-generation Prius liftback, but with a cooling duct located under the rear seat.
As with current-generation Prius cars, Hybrid Synergy Drive is a series-parallel hybrid system that can provide power either from the engine alone, the motor alone, or any mix of both. A hybrid control computer manages the system so that optimum power is delivered according to driver demand. It uses a start/stop system and regenerative braking to conserve fuel and recharge the battery upon deceleration. Hybrid Synergy Drive is built around a specially adapted, efficient 98-horsepower1.8-liter four-cylinder engine that runs on the Atkinson cycle and contributes to a total system horsepower of 134. Key components include an electric water pump that requires no belts and an exhaust gas recirculation (EGR) system that helps warm the engine quickly, reducing fuel consumption when the engine is cold. Compact and lightweight, the engine produces minimal noise and vibration. Sophisticated valve control, injector design, and other technologies reduce emissions to allow the Prius V to qualify for SULEV and Tier2 Bin3 emissions standards. This translates into 44 mpg in the city and 40 mpg on the highway for a combined 42 mpg overall. That’s impressive for a 5-passenger vehicle with the looks of the 2012 Prius V.
The Prius family has been very successful for Toyota Motor and there is no doubt the new and improved Prius V will be an important vehicle for the company. The V doesn’t stand out as much as a hybrid on the road, which is partly because styling has evolved for Prius designs. Our test model was loaded and we enjoyed driving the car which seemed to go forever with the gas gauge barely moving. The sticker of our 2012 Prius V came in at $36,330, which starts to really put hybrids in a competitive range versus conventional cars. From single adults to active families, many buyers will enjoy what the new Prius V has to offer.
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