2012 Toyota Prius v
Starting MSRP $26,550–$30,140
The Prius v is a new model that will be sold alongside the current Prius. It's intended to offer more room for families than the standard Prius; the "v" stands for versatility. The added usability comes from more backseat and cargo room. Competitors include the Ford Escape Hybrid.
The v is the first car in a line of new Prius models that Toyota is calling a "Prius family," which will also include a city car smaller than the regular Prius.
There isn't a drastic departure in the styling department from the regular Prius. Toyota keeps the shape familiar while still adding a considerable amount of room inside. Overall length increases 6 inches over the regular Prius, and the v is about an inch wider. Toyota says the front bumper has "aero-corners" to improve aerodynamics, as well as a roof spoiler to improve airflow and help achieve low air drag for better fuel efficiency.
All of the changes create more room inside, where there's an additional 12.7 cubic feet of cargo space. Like the regular Prius, the v has room for five occupants; a third row was not added with the extra room behind the second row. A low cargo load-in height and wide opening in the rear should be especially appealing to families that frequently use the cargo area.
The increased cargo room is teamed with more passenger room for rear occupants; headroom and legroom have been increased over the regular Prius. The 60/40-split rear bench slides forward and back and reclines up to 45 degrees.
Some unique features include a panoramic sunroof. Weight is the enemy of gas mileage, and Toyota says this setup in the v is 40 percent lighter than a conventional panoramic sunroof. The v is also one of the first Toyota vehicles to feature the company's Entune multimedia system that combines mobile phone, navigation and entertainment functions.
Under the Hood
The same hybrid system that powers the Prius hatchback is under the skin of the Prius v. A 1.8-liter four-cylinder engine makes 98 horsepower and 105 pounds-feet of torque, while the electric motor makes 80 hp and 153 pounds-feet of torque. Power is sent to the front wheels via a continuously variable automatic transmission.
Gas mileage isn't rated as high as the regular Prius. Prius v models are estimated to rate at 42/38 mpg city/highway, with a combined 40 mpg rating. That's 10 mpg less, combined, than the standard Prius.
Standard safety equipment includes an electronic stability system, traction control (both required by federal law), seven airbags and antilock brakes with electronic brake-force distribution and brake assist. A brake override system is also standard. Not typically seen as standard equipment, but standard on the v, is a backup camera.
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