Car Review 2012 Toyota Prius v

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Car Review: 2012 Toyota Prius v

by on January 31, 2012

The 2012 Toyota Prius v Review

Full Review by Andy: A Classic Car Gets Bigger

The all-new Prius v wagon, pronounced PREE-UHS VEE, is Toyota’s latest rendition of its iconic green car. The v, which stands for versatility, marks the entry of a new era of family-friendly efficiency. The Prius v was a finalist for Green Car Journal’s 2012 Green Car of the Year award, and it should be a finalist on your short list as well.


The original Prius was a poster-child for wacky green design, but the stretched Prius v, if anything, is the better-looking of the two. Its sloped wedge-shape and tapered rear end add an air of windswept attractiveness, if not elegance, to the hatchback.

Packin’ a Powertrain

But Toyota is not the only name in the gas-sipping game. The Volkswagen Jetta TDI Sportwagen nets 30/42 mpg, surpassing the Prius v’s freeway fuel economy. It also costs four figures less than the Prius, boasts more standard equipment, and has an upscale interior.

If you spend a lot of time doing 60 and over, the turbodiesel Jetta may be a better alternative.

The original Prius hatchback wasn’t exactly a staple in enthusiast circles. The new Prius v is even portlier with a higher center of gravity and longer wheelbase. Put two and two together, and what you get is awful handling and anemic acceleration. Driving the Prius v is less exciting than piloting a golf cart up a hill. The wagon takes over 10 seconds to slog to 60 mph, and has as much chance of winning a rally race as I do beating Blake Griffin in a dunking contest.

But enough with the lambasting; no one buys a Prius for driving excitement. The Prius v has enough get-up-and-kinda-go to suit the needs of the most drivers.

Safety Information

Equipped with seven airbags, ABS with brake assist, and a standard rearview airbag, the Prius v passes the safety test with flying colors. Adaptive cruise control and a pre-collision system are among the available options.

Comfort Cargo

The regular Prius hosts 21.6 cubic feet. But for many people, especially those depending on the Prius as their sole source of transportation, 22 cf isn’t enough. The Prius v comes to the rescue, offering 34.3 cubic feet with the rear seat up and a maximum of 67.3 cubic feet. Interior storage is also exceptional, including underfloor storage bins, two gloveboxes, and more. But the Prius v does not place people before their possessions.

Front occupants have room to lounge and lie, while rear occupants sit in a split-folding, reclining, and sliding bench seat. The Toyota’s one notable failure is ergonomics: The control cluster is difficult to operate and the awkwardly positioned steering wheel requires gorilla arms to reach.

Feature Highlights

The 2012 Toyota Prius v is arranged in three trims: Two ($26,400), Three ($27,165), and Five ($29,990). Who knows what happened to One and Four.

The Prius v Two is functionally equipped with automatic climate control, keyless ignition/entry, Bluetooth, and a six-speaker sound system with universal audio interface, among other amenities. The Three level upgrades to a voice-controlled navigation system, satellite radio, HD radio, rearview camera, and Entune. Five rounds out the lineup with eco-friendly leatherette upholstery, heated front seats, automatic LED headlights, and other features.

Advanced electronics are available, but quickly balloon the Prius’s price. (See pricing information for the Prius v). The Hyundai Elantra Touring is a better budget-oriented choice.

2. The Prius v is called the Prius a (alpha) in Japan and the Prius + (plus) in Europe.

Horsepower Torque: 134 combined hp @5,200 rpm, 153 lb-ft of torque @4,000 rpm

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