If you are shopping for a small crossover or a wagon and it does not get a combined 42 MPG, then you need to take a close look at the 2012 Toyota Prius V. What if you like the regular Prius, but require more utility and versatility? Enter the Prius V.
The Prius V is basically a regular Prius Liftback that grew a little in every dimension. It rides on a 3 inch longer wheelbase; and it’s 5 inches longer, 3 inches taller, and 1 inch wider. Of course, it also picked up about 230 lbs of curb weight during this growth spurt. All of this extra size translates to a very useful interior space. There is plenty of leg room front and back, and the rear 60/40 split seats slide and recline independently. It means that the back seat occupants can be comfortable no matter if they are big adults or small kids. There is also so much headroom that you can wear a top hat and still fit just fine. The optional dual moonroof in my test car further added to the spacious and airy feel of the interior.
Then there is the business end of the Prius V. The trunk area behind the rear seats measures in at cavernous 34.3 cu-ft and is about 37% larger than that of the regular Prius. For comparison, this is exactly the same volume as the trunk of the 2013 Ford Escape crossover, and nearly 10% larger than that of the 2013 Chevrolet Equinox. In fact, I was able to stuff two very large 110 quart coolers into the trunk area of the V without needing to fold down the rear seats.
The added weight and size conspire together to make the Prius V less fuel efficient than its “normal” cousin. The V gets 44 MPG city and 40 MPG highway, which makes for a 42 MPG combined EPA rating. The regular Prius is rated at 50 MPG combined, or 16% more. I averaged an impressive 43.3 MPG after a week of mixed highway and city driving.
It’s difficult to find a direct competitor to the Prius V. Ford has aimed its new 2013 C-MAX Hybrid squarely at the Prius V. The C-MAX beats the V on efficiency and price, but it gives up about 27% of usable trunk volume to the Prius V. Also, the 2012 Volkswagen Jetta Sportwagen TDI comes to mind, but the VW is smaller and not as efficient. No other two wheel drive vehicle of similar footprint even comes close to the V’s 42 MPG combined rating.
The 2012 Prius V is a solid all around family car. It uses the same 1.8 liter Hybrid Synergy Drive system from the regular Prius, which is good for 134 combined horsepower. It’s acceleration is adequate, if spoiled a bit by the drone of the CVT transmission. The regenerative brakes may not be perfectly linear in feel, but nonetheless accomplish the job with no issues and are easy to get used to. The steering feel is a little numb, but the cornering balance is neutral and predictable.
Please note, if you are new to the Prii family of vehicles, then it may take you extra time to learn and get used to the center mounted dash information center, the gear selector, and some of the other Prius quirks. I found that the child seat LATCH system anchors are a little difficult to locate. There are three anchor points and they are located in the center of each of the three rear seating positions.
My fully loaded Prius V “Five” test car lists at $36,622 after the delivery and destination fees. This is a steep price for many buyers who are looking for a frugal transportation. This price includes $5,580 Advanced Technology Package, which gets you the huge moonroof and lets you play with such gadgets as: Dynamic Radar Cruise Control, Advanced Parking Guidance System, Advanced Voice Recognition, Navigation System, Backup Camera, Sirius XM, and more. I tried all these features and they all worked very well. The Voice Recognition system understood my commands even with my noticeable Russian accent.
On the TFLcar scale of:
- Buy it!
- Lease it!
- Rent it!
- … or Forget it!
I give it a Buy it! , but only if the value proposition makes sense to you. If the $36,622 fully optioned price is too high, then consider a lower optioned model.
Andre Smirnov is a life-long automotive enthusiast, writer, and software engineer. On the weekends – you may find him at a car show, an auction, watching a race, or tinkering with a car in the garage. When not working or spending time with the family – he often scours the internet and other media for various automotive, mechanical, and computer related information.