2012 Prius v First Drive

2012 Prius v
The smart folks at Toyota have decided that they will make a separate breed of the popular Prius hybrid and add a family of other hybrid vehicles to that stable. Much like Lexus luxury division and Scion youth division the new Prius division will make its own way in the world – sort of. Toyota, of course, remains the parent company.

This new Prius v (‘v’ is specifically lower case and stands for versatility) is the second vehicle for this family. Next will be a smaller Prius “C” in early 2012 and then a plug-in version later. In this case they’ve taken the existing Prius, which has more than 50% of the hybrid market here in the U. S., and added 6 inches in length, 3 inches in width, one inch in height and 3 inches in wheelbase, increasing by more than half-again the cargo space (with rear seat folded), while adding substantial passenger space making it essentially a station wagon.

The shape and appearance is so close to the recognizable shape of the existing Prius we would have trouble distinguishing them one from another without seeing them side-by-side. Look closely and you can see that they’ve raised the rear roofline and spent a great deal of effort on aerodynamics. In fact, this one has an exceptional coefficient of drag of just .29, with, among other details, little ridges on top of the headlight housings to split the air just enough to mitigate the effect of the outside mirrors.
2010 Prius v

Power comes from Toyota’s tried-and-true hybrid Synergy drive, the third generation of the gasoline/electric hybrid system that has powered the Prius since its birth. A nickel-metal hydride battery pack supplements the small gasoline engine to make around 134 horsepower in total – 98 horsepower comes from the 1.8-liter gasoline engine, the rest from the electric motor. That may sound like an unusually small number for a midsize car and it is, but it really doesn’t feel as tepid as you may think.

Four driving modes are driver selectable – EV, Eco, Power and Standard. With the EV mode you can go about a mile on electric only but regenerating that battery power will take longer than would be practical to use it for stop-and-go urban traffic. These modes allow customization of the power delivery to maximize efficiency based on the driving environment.
Toyota does not like to fit the Prius v into a category, like station wagon, crossover, 5-door hatchback, so I guess I can call it whatever seems most appropriate to me, and I say it feels like a station wagon. They just refer to it as a midsize, family-friendly vehicle.
2012 Prius v Interior

The 60/40 split rear seat reclines 45-degrees, slides and folds flat. Behind that second seat we have a substantial 34.3 cubic feet of space to store our stuff, more than most small crossovers and SUVs and more than any hybrid. More storage is under the rear floor. And, if we slide the rear seat to its most forward position with seat backs up we have 40.2 cubic-feet of space. Fold the rear seatbacks down and we get 67.3 cubic-feet. Total passenger volume is an impressive 97.2 cubic-feet.

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