Toyota Is Working on a Seven-Seat Prius

For more than year, we’ve heard rumors and hints about a family of Priuses. But we haven’t had any details about what a Toyota Prius SUV, minivan or compact car would look like—until now. Motor Trend is reporting that a slightly stretched Prius—badged as Alpha—is in the works.

Calling the model a minivan is a slight exaggeration. The Prius Alpha is just one foot longer than the current Prius. It’s hard to imagine, but that extra foot apparently will allow for a third row of seats.

According to the report, the Prius Alpha is expected to launch in March 2011, presumably only in Japan (where hybrids are hot sellers.)

The new model would feature lithium ion batteries, marking the first Toyota production hybrid to use the lighter weight more powerful battery technology. The Prius Alpha seven-seater would use the Prius’s 1.8-litre engine and current-generation hybrid system. The maximum combined power output will be 135 horsepower—but given the extra size and weight, the new model’s fuel economy will likely fall below 50 MPG.


  • Lost Prius to wife

    I am willing to bet that the third row folds down to allow for decent room for shopping and hardware store items. I am also willing to bet that with the third seat up, other than soccer gear, other sport gear, or school supplies, one will have to pack the suitcases very light to travel with the third seat occupied. Still, again, it is an offering to everyone that wants that third seat and a hybrid.

  • Nelson Lu

    And my guess is that if/when Ford comes out with a Grand C-Max Hybrid, it will blow the Prius Alpha out-of-the-water as far as utility is concerned. There’s nothing earthshaking about the Alpha.

  • chris niese

    Nice

  • Mr. Fusion

    I hope Toyota differentiates their models’ looks and doesn’t go down the same road Acura did. I can’t tell an Acura SUV from a coupe anymore when they are approaching head on.

  • Carroll

    The Toyota Alpha is similar to the Mazda5. I’m a fan of the Mazda5, which comes with 6 seats in the US, or with 7 seats in other markets. I expect we’ll see more cars inspired by the Mazda5 (and hopefully a hybrid version from Mazda.)

  • DownUnder

    Don’t worry Carroll. Mazda will have hybrids, may be licensed from brand T.

  • Jay

    Great!
    Why did we have to wait for such a long time? I just purchased a 7 seat compressed natural gas (cng) vehicle. Which is good too – but I had prefered a Prius.

  • Jonathan

    My first thought also was that this is a lot like the Mazda 5, which I own. That’s a nice mini-minivan, but we’ve been waiting for the right opportunity to buy a hybrid. If this new Prius or something similar ever gets to America, we’d be happy to switch.

  • Anonymous

    The devil will be in the pricing scheme. How much will this puppy sell in the environment of declining rebates?

  • FamilyGuy

    Mazda already has a hybrid. It’s the Tribute. I’ve been waiting for Mazda to apply that technology to a version of the Mazda5 hybrid for a while now. If the Alpha comes out first, it could be a winner. Just based on the picture, the Alpha is missing the sliding door that the Mazda5 has. Also, the Mazda5 has the captain seats in the second row and those are key to have easy access to the 3rd row of seats. This allows for infant/toddler car seats in the 2nd row without having to worry about those seats having to fold back in order to get to the 3rd row.

    It’d be interesting to see a cub-type door coupled with the back seats doors to gain access to the 3rd row (sort of like the Mini Cooper Cub has to get to the backseat).

    I’m holding onto the family Subaru with 113k miles hoping to get something like the Mazda5 or Alpha in the next few years. Hopefully time will allow for choices.

  • Elliot

    Others beat me to the punch with the Mazda5 analogy. This literally seems like a clone with a hybrid system.

    Mazda is very innovative with styling and body types, unfortunately they don’t seem to take gas mileage very seriously. I have a Protege5 and it is stylish and fun, but its mileage stinks considering the performance level (i.e. if this thing was half as fast as it looks I would understand the mileage I get….but its not).

    Gotta say I would like to see something even a little larger offered as a hybrid. That third row is almost certainly going to be for 8-and-under.

    Also, while I am a Toyota fan, this doesn’t seem terribly groundbreaking to me. Not sure why it will take quite so long to get this to market. Now, if they brought over a plug-in lithium-ion Sienna we would be getting somewhere.

  • Max Reid

    Why 7-seater, why not 8-seater, today’s minivans are all 8-seater.
    This will allow Prius to compete with minivans and even with 40 MPG, it will outsell the minivans.

    Infact the current Prius can be made slightly wider and made a 6-seater (3 front & 3 back).

    After all, Hybrids are meant to be space efficient.
    I wish Ford comes with a Hybrid Fiesta that could compete with Prius.

  • Shines

    Lithium Ion batteries… If that is true that would make me believe Toyota has determined the battery technology capable of lasting well beyond 100000 – 150000 miles. That would be great news.

  • ex-EV1 driver

    Shines,
    100,000 miles on a battery for a 100 mile per charge EV means it needs to last 1000 complete charging cycles. This isn’t inconceivable.
    As a real world (although not our world :-) example: NASA’s Mars Exploration Rovers, have been living for over 2000 days when they were expected to only last 90 days. They have been able to do so because of the wonderful performance on their Li-ion batteries so it is possible for Li-ion batteries to last well over 2000 cycles if they’re taken care of.

  • Dont Pollute

    it has the front of a prius with the back of a more conventional utility vehicle. I have a ’08 prius, i like the improved fuel economy over my ’02 CRV, but the prius is too low to the ground (Scrapes parking bumper) and has poor visibility esp with that dumb bar across the back. This looks to be similar in concept to the GM MPV5 (Larger version of Volt), hopefully they will make it higher off the ground.

  • ex-EV1 driver

    Dont Pollute,
    Unfortunately, higher vehicles have more wind drag than lower ones. “that dumb bar” also is there to improve aerodynamics.
    Those are those physics issues it’s hard to get around.

  • Anonymous

    this car is very good