By Jason Allan - Updated Date: 4/10/2012
The powertrain is the same, the face is familiar, but a unique interior helps define the 2012 Toyota Prius V as something different than a Prius wagon. It's a tad slower than the Prius and a little smoother on the highway, but the driving experience is mostly similar. A sliding and reclining back seat provides luxury-size rear accommodations, and the cargo area is larger than that of the Chevy Equinox. While the Prius V's combined fuel economy rating of 42 mpg isn't as sexy as the Prius' 50 mpg, it handily out-economizes anything with similar interior volume.You'll Like This Car If...
Roomier than anything as efficient, and more efficient than anything as roomy, the Prius V is an unbeatable option for buyers seeking the ultimate balance of fuel economy and cargo capacity.You May Not Like This Car If...
The 2012 Toyota Prius V's sophisticated gas-electric hybrid powertrain requires a price premium that can complicate the car's long-term value equation compared with many of the equally roomy alternatives. If cargo capacity is your key concern, there are more affordable, more powerful options.What's Significant About This Car?
The 2012 Toyota Prius V was the first extension in what's to become a 4-car Prius family in 2012. This plus-size Prius puts world-beating fuel economy in the hands of those with armfuls of cargo.Driving It Driving Impressions
Built on the same platform and using the same powertrain, it's no surprise the Prius V drives a lot like the Prius classic. Larger and a just tad slower, the 2012 Toyota Prius V nevertheless offers plenty of merging power. Its high-speed passing abilities are another matter, but overtaking is the kind of fuel-intensive maneuver that Prius V drivers might be happier to avoid. Heavier than other cars its size, the Prius V is perfectly comfortable on the highway, while responsive steering helps impart a lively feeling around town. The electric-to-gas power transitions and regenerative braking action are smoother and more refined than most hybrids, and while there may be a short adjustment period, it's hardly a compromise. Overall, the 2012 Toyota Prius V simply drives like the well-built, modestly powered car it is.Favorite Features
Connect a phone via Bluetooth wireless or USB cable, and Toyota's Entune system lets you use the vehicle's controls or even your voice to access features like iHeartRadio and Pandora internet radio, buy movie tickets, make a restaurant reservation, or get stock quotes, sports scores, traffic or weather info. You can even use it to find the cheapest gas in the area.
Sliding Rear Seat
The 2012 Toyota Prius V treats backseat drivers and passengers alike to more legroom – and headroom – than plenty of high-dollar luxury cars. Slide the seats forward and the Prius V makes room for an additional six cubic feet of cargo.
When the Prius V was unveiled, we weren't sure it was big enough to make a difference. But when we finally had the opportunity to open the door and sit inside, we got it. The sliding rear seat delivers more legroom than some luxury sedans, and the cargo area is bigger than that of a Chevy Equinox. The Prius V even feels roomier than the Prius up front, thanks to an open center stack design in place of the cockpit-like layout of the Prius. We also appreciate the Prius V's abundance of storage nooks.Exterior
The 2012 Toyota Prius V is instantly recognizable as a Prius relative, although the two don't share any sheet metal. The Prius V Two and Prius V Three ride on 16-inch covered steel wheels, while the Prius V Five rides on 17-inch alloy wheels (there are no "One" or "Four" trim levels in the Prius V lineup). The Prius V Five also features LED headlights and integrated fog lights, and is the only trim to offer the panoramic moonroof, which covers both rows but doesn't open.Notable Standard Equipment
At its starting sticker price of $27,160, the 2012 Toyota Prius V includes a robust, 6.1-inch touchscreen infotainment system with backup camera, USB/iPod connectivity and Bluetooth phone and audio connectivity. Other standard-equipment highlights include auto climate control, a sliding and reclining rear seat, plus keyless entry and start.Notable Optional Equipment
A fully loaded Prius V can top $37,000 with leather-like SofTex seating, panoramic moonroof, dynamic cruise control and an upgraded infotainment system featuring a 7-inch, high-resolution touchscreen, navigation, JBL audio, and Toyota's new Entune system. With Entune you can buy movie tickets, reserve a table, listen to Internet radio and find the cheapest gas in the area. A loaded Prius V can also parallel park itself (while the driver mans the brakes).Under the Hood
The 2012 Toyota Prius V hybrid is powered by a 1.8-liter 4-cylinder gasoline engine matched with a 60-kilowatt electric motor, sending power to the front wheels through a gearless, continuously variable transmission (CVT). But for a slightly revised CVT to accommodate the added mass, the Prius V's powertrain is the same that powers the Prius. And in terms of efficiency and refinement, it's the best hybrid powertrain on the planet. Toyota says compared to the smaller Prius, the Prius V loses five mpg from aerodynamics, three mpg from weight and one mpg from the slightly revised CVT.
4-cylinder hybrid (1.8-liter engine with 60-kilowatt electric motor)
134 net horsepower: 98 horsepower @ 5,200 rpm (gasoline engine) + 80 horsepower (electric motor)
105 lb-ft of torque @ 4,000 rpm (gasoline engine), 153 lb-ft of torque (electric motor)
EPA city/highway fuel economy: 44/40 mpg
The 2012 Toyota Prius V sticker price ranges from about $27,000 to around $37,000, with Kelley Blue Book Fair Purchase Prices reflecting real-world transaction prices of around $1,000 less than the window sticker. The 2012 Volkswagen Jetta SportWagen TDI diesel – less efficient but similarly roomy and more fun – starts in the same neighborhood and tops out near $30,000 with a less robust infotainment offering. As for resale value, we expect the 2012 Toyota Prius V to perform above average.