Auto review by Veeno Dewan

The original Toyota Prius hybrid sedan was launched in 1997 and has quickly dominated the hybrid market so well it is now not unusual to see these economical wonder’s used a taxi’s and embraced by Hollywood celebrities.
Such is the success that it is not a little surprising Toyota is expanding the Prius family with a number of new vehicles including a Prius plug-in, Prius C and the Prius v.

And yes, you are correct the “v” is larger and wider, basically an extended version of the current Prius and now defined as crossover type vehicle. Plus sides are that has a whopping 50 per cent more storage capacity than the smaller Prius and improved fuel efficiency.

The “v” in the Prius v stands for versatile. With the passenger seat folded down and the 60/40 split rear seats stowed away you can easily make a more productive trip to the garden and home improvement center. Bigger items will slide right in the rear hatch which offers a generous 971 litres of cargo space if you fold the 60/40 split rear seats.

Another plus is the that both driver and passenger seats fold down and the rear seats can either fold forward or recline making for a nights camping if need be. Now not many vehicles are able to do that! And you can of course enjoy the view of stars via a panoramic sunroof made of a resin that’s 40 per cent lighter than glass.

The interior is very smart with a plethora of electronic readouts to display the hybrid system’s functions and all the other data from the entertainment and HVAC systems. It comes in a single trim line with three available option packages.

Standard features include 16-inch alloy wheels, automatic climate control, CD/MP3 stereo with 6.1-inch display, auxiliary input, USB port, Bluetooth connectivity, rearview camera, cloth seats, driver’s side height adjustment, 60/40 split-folding sliding and reclining rear seat, keyless entry with pushbutton start, auto up/down windows, exterior temperature gauge, Eco Drive Monitor with multi-information display, dual illuminated vanity mirrors, tilt and telescopic steering wheel with audio and climate controls, floor mats, cargo cover, cargo net, cruise control, digital clock, illuminated entry, front and rear splash guards, rear bumper protector, rear spoiler, heated mirrors, variable intermittent wipers, intermittent rear washer/wiper, LED taillights, driver’s knee airbag, and tire pressure monitoring system.

The Luxury Package adds leather-wrapped steering wheel, navigation system, heated SofTex-trimmed seats, XM satellite radio, garage door opener, lightweight resin panoramic sunroof, smart key system, auto-dimming rearview mirror and front footwell lighting.

The Touring Package adds to the Luxury Package and adds 17-inch alloy wheels, fog lamps, and automatic auto-leveling LED headlamps with washers.

The Touring & Technology Package further adds a 7-inch display screen with navigation, JBL premium audio, pre-collision system, dynamic radar cruise control and intelligent parking assist.

The v also has new improvements under the skin. A new e-CVT transmission uses a single gear drive instead of the belt and pulley system in the transmissions. The cooling system is also uprated to cope with the extra power.

The drive train layout is Front engine with front-wheel drive powered by a 1.8-litre inline-4 cylinder gas engine and an Atkinson Cycle electric motor. Net horsepower is 134. Fuel consumption in the city is 4.3L/100 km, while on the highways it is 4.8L/100 km.

Toyota engineers did all they could to keep the V only 230 pounds heavier at 1,485 kg (3,273 lb) but you can feel the extra weight on steep hills, however it is not a major issue. The Prius remains a smooth comfortable and pleasant car to drive.

Prius buyer don’t expect sports car- like performance, just miserly fuel economy and the v delivers on all fronts.

If you have considered a Prius, but were deterred by the lack of space, the Prius v is the answer to your prayers. The excellent technology and basic premise of the vehicle has been well proven
With a starting price of $27,200 it’s a competitive price for a very fuel efficient more spacious hybrid vehicle. Highly recommended.

2013 Toyota Prius v priced from $27,200 – $36,875

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