Toyota’s Prius v – the lower case “v” stands for “versatility – is an aptly named hybrid relying on the regular Prius’ powertrain with much more space – and continues forward in 2013 with only minor updates.
It was launched as an all-new model in fall 2011, and has quickly grown in popularity ascending the hybrid sales chart to consistently rank in the top four spots, and in 2012, Toyota sold 40,669 units placing it third behind the Toyota Camry Hybrid and Prius Liftback – although the smaller Prius c arguably deserves this title given sales started in March were just 4,936 units behind despite only selling for three-quarters of the year.
In short, the selling point is this is a car that gets outstanding mileage and good reliability for the space it provides.
Specifically, the Prius v provides nearly 60 percent more interior room, edging its carrying capacity into small minivan territory while giving up only 8 mpg to the Prius Liftback from which it was derived.
The v is bigger, wider and taller and its EPA average is 44 mpg in the city and 40 on the highway and 42 combined. By contrast, the Liftback gives 51/48.
The v also costs a couple thousand more than the Liftback, and a small price increase of between $100-$155 for 2013 was chronicled for it by Toyota over its 2012 price of $26,550 and up.
About the only negative press we’ve seen on the car was marginal crash test results by the Insurance Institute of Highway Safety in its small overlap frontal crash testing. In response to this news late last year, Toyota said it will improve small overlap test results and that a proper fix will require more than just one solution.
Toyota also pointed out that the Prius v has previously been awarded an IIHS Top Safety Pick – which accounts for many criteria except small overlap.
At this writing we do not know if any of these safety engineering changes have yet been made, but it appears they have not.
Beyond that, we said the car will see minor styling updates, and here they are: The 2013 Prius v will be available in a new Seaglass Pearl exterior color. In addition, the Prius v Five will offer a SofTex-trimmed steering wheel.
Motivating the Prius v is Toyota’s Hybrid Synergy Drive utilizing a 1.8-liter Atkinson-cycle, four-cylinder engine producing 98 horsepower at 5,200 rpm. Combined with its electric motor, the system generates a combined 134 net horsepower and Toyota does not publish combined torque output.
A continuously variable transmission (CVT) is employed and to help compensate for an extra 250 pounds over the Prius Liftback – which was never excessively fast to begin with – the v model employs lower ratios to get started.
Toyota says that the 0-to-60-mph time is 10.4 seconds, versus an estimated 9.8 seconds for the Prius Liftback, and this is unladen. Pack it full of people and some gear, and expect an even more leisurely pace.
But the car has what it takes to get the job of everyday traveling accomplished, handles sufficiently well, brakes sufficiently well, and as a reasonably competent all-around vehicle returning excellent mileage, lets you carry lots of stuff.
Behind the rear seat is 34.3 cubic feet of cargo space, which increases to 40.2 cubic feet when the back seats are moved forward. Fold the 60/40 split rear seats flat, and that number balloons to 67.3 cubic feet. That’s more room than the Chevrolet Equinox, Ford Escape, Honda Element or Nissan Rogue crossovers offer.
The Prius v also has a smart key system with push-button start; an electronic shift lever; hill assist control, a back-up camera, and seven airbags – all as standard equipment. Available options include energy-efficient LED headlamps; dynamic radar cruise control with a pre-collision system; and a parking guidance system.
Buyers can also be treated to Toyota’s smart-phone utilizing Entune infotainment system. Connecting the smart phone via Bluetooth or a USB cable allows Entune’s features to be operated using the vehicle’s controls or, for some services, by voice recognition. Mobile apps for Entune include Bing, iHeartRadio, MovieTickets.com, OpenTable, and Pandora. Entune data services include a fuel price guide, sports scores, stocks, traffic and weather.
There are three trim levels offered: the Prius v Two, Prius v Three and Prius v Five. The Prius v Two has increased from $26,550 to $26,650 for 2013, and Prius v Three pricing has increased from $27,315 to $27,415. The highly equipped Prius v Five has increased from $30,140 to $30,295.
For a bit more info on essentially the same car, you can also check out our full 2012 model review.