Toyota Prius V Road Test
Review by Tristan Tancredi - 6 March 2013
The Toyota Prius is synonymous with energy and fuel conservation. The Hybrid technology utilised by the Prius is a highly respected system that limits greenhouse gas emissions, as well as improving fuel economy.
Larger and more spacious, The 7-seater Prius V is one of the newest members of the Prius family and is bound to shake up the large family car market.
Utilising a 1.8 litre petrol engine with a battery powered (lithium-ion battery pack) electric motor, the Prius V has some serious up-sides. Let's take a closer look.
The Toyota Prius V utilises Toyota Hybrid Synergy Drive.
Toyota Hybrid Synergy Drive is basically an intelligent energy management system that synergies the petrol engine with an electric motor. In lay man's terms, the petrol engine supports the electric motor and vice versa, thus enhancing fuel conservation.
Unlike an electric car that requires manual recharge of the battery. A hybrid vehicle recharges the battery (lithium-ion battery pack) via everyday driving and regenerative braking. Coasting along at low speeds, or sitting in traffic, the vehicle will run off the battery alone (EV mode). Putting the foot down to increase speed and the engine will kick in after a very slight delay. The two systems working in conjunction truly do deliver outstanding fuel consumption figures.
We spent a week driving this car everywhere and anywhere and it took 3 days before the fuel indicator even dropped one bar! At 4.4L per 100kms, frequenting the petrol stations will be few and far between.
On the flip side to this, the 1.8L engine, when it is in full swing, does strain on steep inclines, or when overtaking. Often we found that the engine was perhaps a little too weak to lug this heavier Prius across certain terrain. Nonetheless, the Prius makes up for this by offering a smooth, refined driving experience, albeit one lacking a little fun.
Three Driving modes are available: EV (Battery Focused), Eco (Fuel Conservation) and Power (no noticeable difference from normal driving mode). The Automatic Continuously Variable Transmission handles well.
A 1.8-litre 4 cylinder DOHC petrol engine and a 60 kW electric motor are used in tandem to create Toyota Hybrid Synergy Drive. Working together, the petrol engine and electric motor successfully minimise fuel usage and ultimately provide a positive driving experience.
The maximum power output for the Hybrid system is 100kW. Coasting at low speeds around suburbia or inner city and the Prius V is highly capable. However, as previously mentioned, escape to the freeways, or venture into the hilly regions of Melbourne and the Prius is a little more suspect.
Obviously when the car is running on the battery alone the cabin is bereft of noise. When the engine kicks in however, the ambient cabin experience dissipates and the driver is left with an engine noise that strains whenever the pedal is planted to the floor.
The hybrid system is highly capable, highly efficient and highly environmentally friendly (101 g/km of carbon dioxide emissions). The lithium-ion battery pack is positioned under the centre console between the front seats.
The Prius V maintains a distinct "Prius" look and feel, yet distinguishes itself amongst its peers with increased external dimensions. The Prius V measures in at 4615mm long, 1775mm wide and 1590mm tall. It weighs in 1565kg (kerb weight).
The Prius V is an impressive looking people mover with a technical lightweight and aerodynamic design. However, this lightweight and aerodynamic design does little to help when wanting to pick up the pace!
16" Alloy wheels are the standard. The Prius V has nothing mean or gangster about it. It's a family car, plain and simple. It gets the job done efficiently and effectively without craving for attention.
The Prius we banged around in came with a Moon Roof. Despite opening up the interior of the vehicle and improving aesthetics, I wouldn't pay the extra cash for one.
As of March 6, 2013, ANCAP had not tested the Prius V for a road safety rating. However, if I were a betting man, i'd place a hefty gamble on a 5-star rating.
Fitted with a drivers side front airbag, passenger side front airbag, front side airbags, side curtain airbags for all three rows and a drivers side knee airbag, the Prius is loaded with safety devices.
Safety features also include; ABS, Electronic Brake Distribution, Brake Assist, Traction Control and Vehicle Stability Control
The Prius V is the Hybrid People Mover. A seven seater with an abundance of space up front, and loads of room for a car full of kids. To top that off, there is still decent space for storage (26 storage pockets and compartments infiltrate the cabin).
Initially, the interior design didn't sit too well with us, things look displaced and overly centralised on the front dash. However, don't judge a book by its cover. After a week getting to know the intricacies of this vehicle, we learnt that everything is positioned appropriately. Everything is comfortable and above all else, everything works well.
The centralised positioning on the front dash, although different, works. The main dashboard display is located in the centre of the dash above all climate, navigation and entertainment controls. This paves the way for a clear passage for the driver to see through the front windscreen. An illuminated heads up display reflects on the wind shield for the driver displaying speed limits, directions and options. Very effective.
The dash-mounted transmission lever is a fiddly little device located next to the steering wheel. Although it clears up heaps of space on the centre console, it does look a tad cheap.
Entertainment-wise there is a 6.1 inch display screen and a sublime speaker system. iPod connectivity is standard, as is bluetooth and AUX connectivity. Navigation works well with a solid, easy to use interface.
Bucket seats are the norm for the front seats and are ridiculously comfortable! Down back and just the standard seating is on offer. Head restraints are fitted to all seats. With the back seats folded down, there is 485 litres of storage space.
With a heap of features, including; Cruise control, trip computer, a whopping 26 storage compartments and pockets, headlight sensors, numerous cup holders, smart entry and smart start, reversing camera and parking sensors, rear side sun shades and heads up display; the asking price of $35,990 is very fair.
Sure, you can pick up a compact SUV for a cheaper price, yet Toyota Hybrid Synergy Drive might convince you otherwise. This fuel efficient (4.4l per km for Gods sake!), highly spacious family wagon will please all members of the family. All 7 of them!
In the market for a larger vehicle. You need to check out the Prius V TODAY!
* Prices are manufacturer list prices only, for the drive away price please contact your local authorised Toyota dealer.
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