2013 Toyota Prius vPosted on February 5th, 2014
Family-friendly five-passenger hybrid
By Nina Russin
The v is Toyota’s answer to fans of the best selling Prius who need more passenger and cargo space than the original liftback offers. It’s a great option for buyers with active lifestyles, with enough room to stash multiple road bikes and other large cargo inside the car. Fuel economy isn’t quite as good as the liftback, but 42 miles-per-gallon is nothing to sneeze at.
Model grades are structured in similar fashion to other members of the Prius family. The test car is the Three: a mid-grade volume leader priced from $27,415 excluding delivery.
Standard convenience features include keyless entry and start, a 6.1-inch touchscreen display with navigation and Entune apps, backup camera, 60/40 split folding and reclining second-row seat, power driver’s seat and a rear tonneau cover.
The test car adds carpeted floor mats and a cargo mat, bringing the final MSRP to $29,189.
A hybrid for the real world
Although the Prius v can’t hold as many passengers as Toyota’s Sienna minivan, its interior is almost as versatile. As with the minivan, the Prius is a one-box design, adding height to the cargo bay. The one box design makes the car slippery in the air stream. Coefficient of drag is .29.
Because the rear window is positioned differently than the liftback, visibility out the back is better. The driver’s rear vision is not limited by the horizontal break between the roof and back window.
Power comes from a 1.8-liter Atkinson cycle four-cylinder gasoline engine and two electric motors. Because electric motors develop peak torque at very low engine speeds, acceleration off the line is surprisingly good for a midsized car with a small engine. A continuously variable automatic transmission extends fuel economy with an infinite range of gear ratios.
Drivers can choose between normal, eco and power modes, depending on their driving needs. I kept the car in power mode for most of my test drive since I was on the highway a great deal of the time. The power mode changes the throttle mapping for more aggressive acceleration. The difference is most noticeable when passing slower vehicles on the highway.
Despite its spacious interior, the Prius v has a small enough footprint to be able to park street-side. An electric power steering system gives the car a 36.1-foot turning circle, making the car exceptionally maneuverable.
The suspension consists of MacPherson struts up front and a torsion beam rear axle. The back end of the car feels a bit clunky, especially when the driver decelerates into a stop.
Test drive in Phoenix, Arizona
I spent the past week driving the family-friendly Prius around the Phoenix and Scottsdale, Arizona metropolitan areas. At this time of year, traffic in the valley is at its peak due to the influx of tourists. The Prius did an admirable job of weaving around distracted drivers on the overcrowded roads.
Drivers who are unfamiliar with the Prius family will notice more engine and tire noise than with other Toyota vehicles. Engineers were more concerned with power to weight ratio than sound insulation. The engine needs to work hard to power the largest Prius, and the low rolling resistance tires are noisier than traditional counterparts.
Visibility around the perimeter is good. I was able to adjust the driver’s seat for a clear forward view and had no problems monitoring traffic in adjacent lanes on the highway. At night, halogen headlamps project bright beams of light. I was able to see quite well on some of the darker side streets in my suburban neighborhood.
The power steering system provides more assist at low speeds for maneuverability, with a stiffer feel on the highway. On center response is the bane of electric power steering systems: this one is no exception. The advantage to the technology is space savings under the hood and reduced parasitic power loss as compared to a conventional hydraulic system.
Four-wheel disc brakes stop the Prius in firm, linear fashion.
By packaging the nickel-metal hydride battery pack beneath the floor, engineers maximized the interior and cargo space.
Both first and second-row passengers have ample leg, hip and headroom. With the second-row seats folded flat, the Prius v can hold two road bikes with the front wheels removed.
Keyless access and start spares the driver from fumbling for the key fob. A small lever on the instrument panel controls the transmission, adding room in the center console for storage.
The center stack screen projects the rearview camera image, navigation and audio graphics. The driver can also check his instant and average fuel economy using a bar graph display.
I found the power driver’s seat easy to adjust, with plenty of lower lumbar support for drives a couple hours in duration. The fabric upholstery on the test car is attractive and easier to clean than leather. During the hot Phoenix summers, it’s also more comfortable.
The car’s low lift-over makes it easier to load items in back than some competitive crossover vehicles.
The Prius v comes with front, side, side curtain and driver’s knee airbags, antilock brakes, traction control, stability control, whiplash resistant front seatbacks and tire pressure monitoring.
The Prius v received a five star crash test rating from the National Highway Traffic Safety administration.
Like: A spacious, versatile interior that is ideal for buyers with active lifestyles, exceptional fuel economy, and a high level of standard safety features.
Dislike: Rear suspension feels clunky. Center stack screen washes out in bright sunlight.
Model: Prius v
Base price: $27,415
As tested: $29,189
Horsepower: 134 Hp @ 5200 rpm
Torque: 105 lbs.-ft. @ 4000 rpm
Antilock brakes: Standard
Side curtain airbags: Standard
First aid kit: Standard
Bicycle friendly: Yes
Fuel economy: 44/40 mpg city/highway2013, Green Hybrid 2013, Active Lifestyle Vehicles, auto review, performance, pricing, standard safety, Toyota
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