Test Drive: 2012 Toyota Prius V toyota car test drives reviews hybrids green scene green reviews greenreviews
2012 Toyota Prius V Touring + Technology Package. Click image to enlarge

First Drive: 2012 Toyota Prius V

Manufacturer’s web site
Toyota Canada

Review and photos by Michael Schlee

Photo Gallery:
2012 Toyota Prius V

Touring + Technology Package

I need to confess something right off the top: I don’t really get hybrids.  The inner speed freak in me has yet to accept the idea of a vehicle whose engine is designed from Day One to save fuel rather then produce gobs of ice-cap-melting horsepower.  So it may seem strange that I am testing the new-for-2012 Toyota Prius V, although, as much as I am not a hybrid fan, I am a wagon fanatic.  What better way could there be to dive into the world of hybrids then with the new Prius V and its expanded cargo hold.

The 2012 Toyota Prius V is basically a Prius with an extra large hatchback compartment. Built on a stretched Prius wheelbase, the V is 155 mm longer and features 50 per cent more cargo capacity. All of this extra space adds up to a 105-kg weight penalty for the Prius V compared to the regular Prius (1485 kg vs 1380 kg). The Prius V’s base retail price is $27,200. Our tester features the Touring + Technology Package, which ups the price to $36,875 ($38,500 after fees).

Test Drive: 2012 Toyota Prius V toyota car test drives reviews hybrids green scene green reviews greenreviews
Test Drive: 2012 Toyota Prius V toyota car test drives reviews hybrids green scene green reviews greenreviews
2012 Toyota Prius V Touring + Technology Package. Click image to enlarge

The overall profile of the Prius V strongly resembles that of the Mazda5 mini-minivan. Since the Prius V is sold as a seven-seater in overseas markets this makes sense. Unfortunately in Canada we will only be receiving the five-seat edition of the Prius V along with its more conventional NiMH battery pack. The seven-seat Prius V features a lithium-ion battery pack squeezed into the center console.  The Prius V is powered by the same 134 hp (net) Atkinson cycle hybrid engine combo as the regular Prius.  Power is sent through a CVT transmission to the front wheels. Already a lacklustre straight-line performer, the Prius V is hampered even more with an additional weight penalty and slightly worse aerodynamics. That being said, the Prius V does have ample power to get you around town and keep pace on the highway

The Prius V features a multi-mode hybrid drive system with normal, EV, eco and power modes available. EV will keep the Prius V drivetrain in a battery-only mode as long as you do not exceed 40 km/h, drive more then one kilometer or depress the gas pedal too far. We found this mode useful around parking lots and in stop-and-go traffic, but too slow for accelerating in normal city traffic.  Try to leave a stoplight in EV mode and you will have the fully-loaded Peterbilt big rig driver behind you wishing you out of the way.

Eco and power modes are similar in function as they control the amount of engine response in association to throttle position. Eco dials back throttle response while power mode increases it, and the latter is useful for getting up to highway speeds and passing, while eco can help reduce your fuel consumption on long highway drives; figures under 5.0 L/100 km can be achieved on a flat straight highway run.

Test Drive: 2012 Toyota Prius V toyota car test drives reviews hybrids green scene green reviews greenreviews
Test Drive: 2012 Toyota Prius V toyota car test drives reviews hybrids green scene green reviews greenreviews
2012 Toyota Prius V Touring + Technology Package. Click image to enlarge

Inside the Prius V, you are treated to soft-touch materials and a well laid-out instrument cluster dominated by a touch-screen infotainment unit. There are really only two questionable interior layout choices.  The heated seat control buttons are located on the driver’s side of the centre console around knee height and the three front cup holders almost seem to be placed as afterthoughts. The latter may be the actual case as one or two of the holders would need to give up its space for the seven-seat Prius V’s lithium ion battery pack.  Since the Prius V was initially designed as a seven-seater and is offered as such in other markets, some of the features you wouldn’t normally see on a five-seater are holdovers from the seven-seat model not available in North America. For example, the rear seats are set on tracks that can slide fore and aft for the purpose of allowing passengers into a 3rd row seat. Although not an everyday need, the seat tracks allow for extra rear legroom or could come in handy if a bulky item needs to be transported.

Connect with Autos.ca