June 2, 2014
2014 Toyota Prius V. Click image to enlarge
Review and photos by Tom Sedens
I don’t know what it is about the Prius. Every time I pass one on the road, there’s something about the styling, the holier-than-thou mission statement and the way that they’re often being driven that just makes it tough for me to like them. I determined it was time to find out if they’re as awful as I tell myself they are.
From the outside, the Prius V comes across as noticeably bigger than the standard Prius. I’m a wagon nerd, so vehicles like this make me smile. I like the overall shape, and feel that it’s quite an improvement on the normal Prius’ hunchback style. The lines are clean, smooth and purposeful. Its proportions stretched to make room where it matters inside, it has evolved into something ever-so-slightly less ugly-duckling and more wagon-like.
If you take a close look, much effort has been made to make this a slippery eel in the wind. Little touches everywhere show how significant aerodynamics are in the Prius equation. The 16-inch rims with wheel covers look pretty cheap.
Under the hood sits the familiar 1.8L four-cylinder gas engine mated to Toyota’s hybrid drivetrain. It puts out a net 134 hp – the same as the regular Prius. The car isn’t light at 1,485 kg, but considering its size and utility and that there’s a big battery pack, I think that’s reasonable.
The magic happens when it comes to fuel consumption. It’s rated at 4.3 L/100 km (55 US mpg) in the city and 4.8 L/100 km (49 US mpg) on the highway. I ended up with an average of 5.1 L/100 km (46 US mpg) with absolutely no effort to save fuel. Yes, it has a smallish 45L tank, but with numbers like these, even that little tank lets you go for a couple of weeks at minimum.
The Prius’ interior must have been inspired by the “50 Shades of Grey” book. But not in a spicy way. It’s rather drab and has a strange mix of materials. There’s padded, soft-touch and hard plastics, and a variety of unique textures and patterns going on.
With that said, the interior is very roomy, comfortable and ultimately, highly functional. The manually-adjustable fabric seats were pretty comfortable and reasonably well-bolstered for a car like this. I found the headroom to be great (I’m 5’10”), and the foot wells are spacious.
Behind the steering wheel is a very deep dash, stretching off into the distance thanks to that raked-back windshield. There is nary a physical gauge to be found. All your information is in the wide, hooded display bin in the center of the dash. I’m not a fan of center-mounted instrumentation and this one is very busy. Not an easy way to glean information quickly, that’s for sure.
2014 Toyota Prius V dashboard, centre stack, digital gauges. Click image to enlarge
Instead of a center stack, the Prius gets a big chin – it reminds me of Lord Farquaad from Shrek. Here you’ll find a 6.1″ touchscreen media system, an automatic climate control system and of course the combination of a push-start ignition, the Prius joystick shifter and a “Park” button. A goofy set-up to be sure.
There is no real driver assistance tech at the base level, short of the backup camera. Speaking of missing “tech”, Toyota still hasn’t given the Prius the ability to blink the signal light three times when you tap the stalk. Way to go, Toyota.
We loved the plethora of storage options throughout the cabin. Two glove compartments (over and under), a deep storage well under the arm rest lid, and a vast open drop-in bin in the centre make it easy to find a resting place for your stuff. Speaking of the armrest lid, it’s upholstered (strangely) in a black fabric that doesn’t match anything else in the car. I’m guessing that fabric won’t stay nice and clean for long.
The Prius V’s trunk is large and easily accessible. The load floor is relatively high since the battery is under there. 971 litres of cargo volume greet you – that’s a lot to begin with. Slide the rear seats forward and that grows to 1,138 litres – doing this creates a neat vertical space behind those rear seats, where you can put smaller bags, etc – very hand for road trips. Fold the rear seats down (they split 60/40) and you’ll find yourself with a massive, SUV-like 1,905L trunk.
2014 Toyota Prius V seating & cargo area. Click image to enlarge
The rear seating area was a very pleasant surprise. There are three seats, each with a seat belt and headrest. The Prius V offers a significant amount of space back there, affording you plenty of comfort, along with head-, leg- and foot room in the back, especially for the two outboard seating positions. In addition, the seats slide fore and aft and recline, adding further flexibility and the flat floor helps too.
A third adult will feel a little cramped in the middle position but our three kids had more than enough space back there. There are two LATCH anchors for kids’ seats.