Review: 2012 Toyota Prius v

Posted on 27. Jun, 2011 by in Auto News

Brand extensions are not common in the auto industry, perhaps because they (if ever) rarely succeed. Chrysler and Oldsmobile hyperextended the LeBaron and Cutlass brands or forgotten. But Toyota has as much as anyone hybrids that are not mentioned selling Prius, so try it now, other models trying to sell below this highly successful nameplate. First up: The Prius v (with lowercase v for "versatile"). How far and how effectively a second model is the brand's reach?

Brand extensions require finesse. If the additional model is different than the original, then it is unclear what the brand stands. But if it is too similar, people wonder, what is the sense it when they become aware of at all. The naming system of the new models out that Toyota is rather err in the latter direction. The original Prius and the new Prius v will be joined later by the Prius PHV (for "Plug-in Hybrid Vehicle") and the more compact Prius c. None of these names has much basis for an independent identity. With a Taurus X in my driveway, I am painfully aware of the confusion when people hear a familiar model name is appended with a single character. Most alphanumeric characters give people cling two or three characters.

Worse, many people already consider their Prius a Prius V with V (in this case a Roman numeral pronounced "five") refers to the upper trim level. In order to avoid the absurdity of a Prius v V, Prius trim levels are now advertised. Sun trim the tip of the Prius v Five will be.

The exterior design of the Prius v similarly errs on the side of anonymity. Each siding is different, and the new model is larger in every dimension (three inches more wheelbase, six inches of extra length, three inches longer and about an inch longer rel rel). Nevertheless, few people will mistake it for anything other than a Prius with a larger, square rear end. Which is essentially what it is.

It took three generations, but the Prius eventually grew to a somewhat nice car (at least when they are present with the five 17-inch alloys). The new Prius v, we are back on the clumsy appearance of the first two PRII (the official plural, as decided by a public vote). Engineers probably dictated the basic shape of the car and left his little room designer to make it pretty. The Prius v interior is also much less stylish than the current Prius, with none of its ornate curves.

The styling (or lack thereof) suggests that the Prius v is primarily the function. The stylish "flying buttress" center console of the regular Prius is missing. Instead, there is a much smaller, much less intrusive center console with open compartments for iPhones, purses, and so on. The hood over the central instruments is narrow, so that the view to the front is open. To the side of the base of the side windows is more horizontally while back a much boxier rear end allows for a higher, one-piece rear window. V With all these changes, the Prius feels open and spacious, but also less stylish and less sporty. This could very well be a response to the second-generation Prius owners, the more encapsulated "starship pilot" driving position, the third generation car dislike. In both cars interior materials are the hard plastics typical current Toyotas, but they seem cheaper in the Prius v. The silver plastic trim on the doors seems dated.

Like the regular Prius, the Prius v is the front-seat comfort, offering more side support than 99.9% of economy-minded drivers will ever need. But the rear seat disappointed. Although it contains an inch more headroom and two inches more shoulder room, there's actually a little less legroom despite the new car's longer wheelbase and overall length. Worse, the lower seat cushion on the floor., Less comfortable and more shaped by front seats, which (in contrast to those in the regular Prius) do not have enough space between them for the rear affects the feet Summing these shortcomings and the Prius v, the rear seat is comfortable for adults much less than the regular Prius. Toyota Product Development organization dropped the ball here.

One factor: The car of the packaging had the cramped third-row seat can be offered anywhere else in the world. This third row is not offered in the United States because it requires a more compact, but also much more expensive lithium-ion battery (instead of the standard NiMH battery). Only one in 20 buyers were willing to shell out about $ 900 on compact for similarly limited third row in the RAV4 SUV. So a $ 5,000 + third row would clearly few takers.

With the rear seat actually less comfortable, it falls to the greater cargo The Prius v is the ability to justify its existence. The regular Prius has 21.5 cubic feet behind the folding second-row seats and 39.6 with this line. Thanks to its longer, boxier tail, the Prius v is slightly larger than the latter figure even without folding the second row when you move this line forward a few inches (not a feature of the regular Prius). The average adult still fit in this mode, only the knees grazing the front seatbacks. Moving the back seat all the way back can be 34.3 cubic feet behind. With the seat folded, 67.3. These numbers. Substantial improvement over the regular Prius, also in comparison to the compact SUV Toyota name as the primary target car Make a folding front passenger seat of the Prius v would more versatile, but it is not offered.

The Prius v is the 134-hp (98 from the 1.8-liter gasoline engine) hybrid drive is unchanged from the regular Prius. A shorter final driver ratio (3.70 vs. 3.27) compensates for the larger cars heftier curb weight (3,274 vs. 3,042 pounds), the acceleration is about the same. As in the regular Prius, makes the drive train mode a big difference. Select "eco" and could no longer leisurely acceleration. Although the acceleration feels very slow surprisingly well in the Prius v, because in this mode, the drive train is so smooth and so quiet, the driver in the rearview mirror are clearly the experience much less relaxing. In standard mode, the powertrain feels much more responsive, and in "power" it almost feels fast. The hard work of the drive train, however, and it makes a little more noise and has the unnatural, non-linear feeling together with a CVT.

EPA ratings are much lower with the Prius v, 44/40 vs 51/48. The differences in comparison with the regular Prius are not large-less slippery (drag coefficient is 0.29 instead of 0.25), a little more front area, a little more weight, a shorter final drive ratio, but they apparently add up, at least within EPA lab. Maybe the Prius v was not optimized so good to a few tenths here and a couple of tenths to win it?

Suspension tweaks for the Prius v focused on ride quality, and the car does not have to travel smoothly and quietly than the regular Prius. Handling, not to start Prius Base is a little less sharp, but still controls more than in the first and second generation PRII. Understeer and lean in hard turns are moderate. The tires instead of the suspension are very limiting factor. If they push the progressive and audible without fuss. Given its role as an efficient unit, the Prius v does well enough. Those who should have a stake driving experience, check. Similar to the functional, similarly efficient Volkswagen Jetta SportWagen TDI

Since the Prius v its powertrain and many other parts of shares under the skin with the regular Prius, the reliability was excellent. Prius owners participating in the Car Reliability Survey True Delta have consistently reported very few repairs. Critics of the car have often stressed the danger of expensive battery failures, but these are rarely necessary before 150,000 miles. A new battery runs about $ 2,500, but people have only a few hundred paid for packs of wrecked cars with low mileage.

Toyota has not yet announced the price of the Prius v, suggests, however, it costs only a little more than the regular Prius. The difference would be better to be long $ 1,000, for the Prius v does not offer much more than the normal car. It is much more cargo space, better visibility, and a less constricted driving position, but fuel economy of a hit and the rear seat is surprisingly less comfortable. The Prius v is not risk damaging the brand, it is too similar to the regular Prius for it, but because the car is basically a Prius wagon, it's hard to see why Toyota went through the trouble of developing a completely new exterior and interior. With a largely working without conceding more and customs, why is the exterior and interior more attractive, and why not the back seat more spacious? Unlike the regular Prius nobody was swinging for the fences. The Prius v is certainly not a bad car, but it's still missing an opportunity.

Toyota has. This vehicle for review in a regional launch event A pre-production review can be found here.

Michael Karesh operates True Delta, an online source of automotive pricing and reliability data.