Prius v Test Drive Hybrid SUV with Best MPG

John Addison Drives Prius vBy John Addison (updated 10/25/11; original 5/26/11)

Double the Mileage of Most SUVs

My test drive of the new Prius v convinced me that you can get 42 MPG with comfort for 5 people and the flexibility to hold the cargo carried in most SUVs. The Prius v will shake-up the crossover SUV and wagon market when it soon goes on sale in January starting at $26,400, only about $3,000 more than the classic Prius. The iconic Prius Liftback is not going away. Prii is now a family of four, with the Prius v being the largest.

For those sick of $100 fill-ups, but unable to compromise on passenger and cargo room, the new Prius v delivers 44 MPG city, 40 highway, and 42 overall MPG. Master its EV and ECO modes and you’ll save even more at the pump. 42 MPG is a huge savings over the best current SUV mileage of 32 MPG with a Ford Escape Hybrid. 42 MPG is double the average SUV.

This mileage breakthrough is for real. I drove the Prius v harder than normal for 39 miles, up and down steep grades and accelerating in Power mode on the freeway. My actual mileage was 40.2 as I wound through the streets and hills of Monterey, California.

Toyota has not yet announced pricing. Clean Fleet Report speculates that the price will start around $26,000, about $3,000 more than the Prius Liftback. You should save over $1,000 per year in fuel and maintenance, compared to the average SUV, crossover, or midsized wagon.

The Prius v uses the identical hybrid Synergy drive technology as the classic Prius Liftback, the best selling hybrid of all time; the new Prius v is 6.1 inches longer, 1.2 inches wider, and 3.3 inches taller. If you have a big home project, the front seat can fold flat, providing up to 50-percent more interior cargo space than the current Prius.

Toyota says that “v” is for versatile and sees a big market in active families.  Comfortable seating for five will appeal to active families.  Sliding second row seats allows for extra rear-storage flexibility, with a 45-degree recline for greater comfort.  The 60/40 split, folding rear seats present four different seat arrangements that provide excellent usability for passengers and luggage, while a fold-flat front-passenger seat allows for extremely long cargo, like shelves for a home project followed by a surfboard for the beach.

Toyota Prius Safety Features

Available options include energy-efficient LED headlamps, Dynamic Radar Cruise Control with a Pre-Collision System (PCS), and Advanced Parking Guidance System. For safety, there are seven airbags, a high-strength cabin and an energy-absorbing body structure with impact beams, cross members and leg absorption pads.  New driver and front-passenger seat design helps lessen possible whiplash injury during a collision.

Like all Toyota models, the Prius v will feature Toyota’s Star Safety System™ standard, which includes Vehicle Stability Control (VSC), Traction Control (TRAC), Anti-lock Braking System (ABS), Electronic Brake-force Distribution (EBD) and Brake Assist.  It also features the standard Smart Stop Technology brake-override system.

Test drive

I push the start button and barely hear the 134 hp engine. Like the current generation Prius, the dash and display are easy to see and use.  Four driving modes (Normal, Power, Eco and EV) satisfy a variety of road conditions and driver preferences.  A Smart Key System with Push Button Start, an electronic shift lever, Hill Start Assist Control (HAC), and a back-up camera are standard.

I touch the ECO button because I am more concerned about fuel economy than performance. Driving the v is familiar – it is another Prius.

Power steering is effortless. Visibility is good from all windows and side mirrors, and better through the rear window than in the Prius Liftback. After a few miles on busy streets, I enter the freeway, I touch ECO to accelerate in Normal mode. I merge easily with traffic and accelerate from 20 to 70 mph. Acceleration is fine, unless you enjoy performance. It certainly is not a Tesla Roadster. The Prius v only adds 230 pounds to the Prius classic and uses the same drive system, so the Prius v is a bit slower, accelerating zero to 60 in 10.1 seconds, a second more than the Liftback. You can touch the Power  button when you want more performance. Wind resistance is minimal with its .29 coefficient of drag, lower than competing crossover SUVs.

In a couple of miles, I leave the freeway to take Highway 68 towards Salinas. Passing the fields rich with a bounty of food, I again notice that the Prius v is as smooth and quiet as the bestselling Liftback. Going up 8 percent grades on Laureles Grade, the Prius v performed adequate in ECO mode and proved a good hill climber in Power mode. Taking curves where I might have felt a bit top-heavy in some SUVs, the Prius v with a lower center of gravity glided through the curves.

For part of the drive, I took a turn as passenger in the rear seat, which had enough room for three adults or two 7-foot basketball players. Even with the Prius v surfboardrear seat forward for extra rear cargo, there was abundant legroom. Front and rear doors even have a concave shape for more leg comfort.

The interior is practical and more environmentally friendly.  The seats are SofTex-trimmed, a material that reduces weight and reduces VOC emissions by 99% during manufacturing. No fancy leather and wood that premium SUV drivers enjoy, just comfortable seats and trim designed for years of active use.

Prius v Five moonroofUnfortunately my test car did not included the optional Panoramic View moonroof with power retractable sun shades that provides an open atmosphere in the cabin with a 40-percent reduction in weight as compared to conventional glass roofs of the same size, and excellent heat insulation. A nice Toyota innovation for more sunlight without demanding more A/C or heat.

On a quite street, I touch EV to drive the car in pure electric mode. Accelerating with the care of walking on eggshells, I could not keep the car in EV mode as it quickly defaulted to ECO. I’ve had the same experience in all other Prii except the new Prius PHV.

Without working to get good mileage, the actual results of this drive were 40.2 mpg. If I had cruised city streets at 30 miles per hour in ECO mode, mileage would have been better. The Prius v delivers a quite, smooth, and responsive drive.

Disclosure: For the unveiling and long test drive of the Prius v, Toyota picked-up the tab for one hotel night and some tasty seafood in Monterey for me and other automotive journalists. My article was not seen by Toyota prior to publication, nor influenced by Toyota.

Prius v is for More Than a Family Car

For years, the Prius has been popular with fleets that want to save millions in fuel over a period of years and like the green image. These same fleets have also bought SUVs for other needs with the greenest being the Ford Escape Hybrid. There are many applications where the added cargo of the Prius v will now make it the vehicle of choice including taxis, part of car sharing fleets, delivery applications where a bigger van is unnecessary, sales and service, and government fleets.Prius v Industrial Cargo

Most of the million existing Prius drivers have learned that the folding 60/40 backseat of the Prius liftback meets their cargo needs including trips to the big box stores, room for two bicycles, and work and family demands. Some, however, are ready to buy a new Prius and will pick the larger Prius v at 42 MPG over the Liftback, which delivers 50.

Competition

With the Prius v, Toyota is going after the 3 “Es” of small and crossover SUVs – the Escape, the Equinox, and the Element. With high gas prices, the Prius v with 42 mpg will cause people to rethink their plans for other crossovers. The v will take some business from the Ford Escape Hybrid, the current SUV mileage champion at 32 mpg.

The Prius v will not be for everyone. Some will insist on a bigger SUV. Others will want premium leather and wood. Kids will campaign for entertainment screens for backseat passengers, not available on the Prius v. Some active families will insist on seating for 7 or 8 including second row lounge seats. The Prius v only seats 5. For those who must drive through snow and ice, AWD SUVs such as the Ford Escape Hybrid and Lexus RX450h will win. Many winter drivers will find good fuel economy from AWD non-hybrids from Subaru and Audi.

Next year, the toughest competitor to the Prius v is likely to be the Ford C-MAX, an equally attractive new generation crossover will fuel economy options that include hybrid and plug-in hybrid, seven seats, and sliding side doors. The Prius v will use NiMH batteries, just as the 2011 Prius. Next year, Ford will start delivering lithium batteries in all hybrids and electric cars including the C-MAX.

Prius Family

Ed LaRocque, Toyota National Marketing Manager Advanced Technology Vehicles, stated, “With a 53% share of the U.S. market, Prius outsells all other hybrids combined.  Compared to its main hybrid competitors, Prius outsells Honda hybrids 3 to 1, Ford 5 to 1 and GM 18 to 1.” Toyota has no intention of reducing its share of the hybrid market. LaRocque said, “ Toyota is introducing 10 new models to our global lineup in the next 20 months, with six of them entirely new, not next generations of existing models…. As Corolla and Camry have defined our past, and will continue to be important, the Prius Family, in many ways, will define our future.”

Prius Family

  • Prius Liftback – world’s best selling hybrid with 50 mpg
  • Prius v –midsized crossover SUV with 42 mpg
  • Prius c – smaller city car hybrid on sale Summer 2012 with better mileage than Liftback
  • Prius PHV – plug-in hybrid with best mileage of any Prius on sale Summer 2012

Prius v Windy RoadYes, the Prius v will shake-up the crossover SUV and wagon market when it goes on sale. It provides good handling, 4 modes for different drivers and roads, excellent cargo versatility, and the opportunity to save $5,000 to $10,000 over the life of the car in fuel and maintenance compared with many SUVs.

Prius v Specifications (Preliminary)

EPA Estimated Fuel Economy* (44 city/40 highway/42 combined MPG)

  • 2011 EPA MPG estimate. Actual mileage will vary.

Drive Modes

  • EV
  • ECO
  • Normal
  • Power

Hybrid System

ENGINE 2ZR-FXE (Atkinson cycle)

  • 134 horsepower (100 kW)
  • 1.8-liter Aluminum 4-cylinder aluminum block and head, double overhead cam (DOHC) 16-valve VVT-i
  • 4-valve/cylinder with VVT-i
  • Displacement 1,798 cc
  • Bore x Stroke 3.17 x 3.48 in.
  • Expansion Ratio 13.0:1
  • 98 horsepower @ 5,200 rpm (73kW) @5,200 rpm)
  • Torque 105 lb-ft @ 4,000 rpm (142 Nm @4,000 rpm)
  • Recommended Fuel 91-octane unleaded
  • Emission Certification
  • SULEV Tier 2 Bin 3

ELECTRIC MOTOR GENERATOR TWO

  • Drives front wheels, regeneration during braking
  • Permanent Magnet AC Synchronous Motor
  • Max Voltage DC650V
  • Electric Motor Power Output 80 hp/60 kW
  • Torque 153 lb.-ft. (207 Nm)

Nickel-Metal Hydride HYBRID BATTERY PACK

  • Nominal Voltage DC201.6V (168 x 1.2V cells)
  • Capacity 6.5 ampere hour
  • Battery Peak Horsepower Rating 36 hp/27kw
  • System Voltage 650 volts maximum

Electronically controlled continuously variable transmission (ECVT)

PERFORMANCE

Acceleration 0-60 mph 10.4 seconds

Top speed 103mph

CHASSIS AND BODY

  • Suspension
  • – Front = Independent MacPherson strut suspension with stabilizer bar
  • – Rear = Torsion beam
  • Steering – Electric power-assisted rack-and-pinion
  • Brakes – Front
  • Power-assisted ventilated front disc with integrated regenerative braking and Star Safety System™
  • – Front Diameter 10.8 in. rotor
  • – Rear Solid disc with integrated regenerative braking and Star Safety System™
  • – Rear Diameter 11.5 in. rotor
  • – Parking
  • Anti-lock Brake System (ABS)

All-season Tires P205/60 R16

  • P215/50 R17 (available)
  • Temporary (T135/70 D17) Spare Tire

EXTERIOR DIMENSIONS

  • Overall Length 181.7 in.
  • Overall Width 69.9 in.
  • Overall Height 62.0 in. (63.0 w/ Panoramic Roof)
  • Wheelbase 109.4 in.
  • Coefficient of Drag 0.29

INTERIOR DIMENSIONS

  • Seating Capacity 5
  • Headroom (Front/Rear) 39.6/38.6 in. (40.4/38.2 w/ Panoramic Roof)
  • Legroom (Front/Rear) 41.3/35.9 in.
  • Shoulder Room (Front/Rear) 55.9/55.2 in.
  • Hip Room (Front/Rear) 53.5/53.5 in.
  • Passenger Volume 97.2 cu. ft.
  • Cargo Volume (cu. ft.)
  • With rear seat upright: 34.3.
  • With rear seat forward: 40.2
  • With rear seat folded: 67.3

WEIGHTS AND CAPACITIES

Curb Weight 3,274 lbs.

Fuel Capacity 11.9 gal.

STANDARD EXTERIOR FEATURES

  • Projector-beam halogen headlamps with auto-off feature (LED standard with Prius v Five)
  • 16-inch 10-spoke alloy wheels with full wheel covers and P205/60R16 tires (Prius v LED taillamps and stoplamps Two and Three only)
  • Color-keyed power heated outside mirrors with folding feature
  • Washer-linked variable intermittent windshield wipers
  • Rear window defogger with timer
  • Intermittent rear window wiper
  • UV reduction glass windshield•
  • Rear spoiler with LED center high-mount stop lamp
  • Roof-mounted antenna (Prius v Three and Five only)

STANDARD INTERIOR FEATURES

  • Single-dial automatic climate control with air filter, dust and pollen filtration mode, electric compressor, and push button controls
  • Fabric-trimmed front seats with armrests and seatback pockets; six way adjustable driver’s seat with power lumbar support; four-way adjustable fold-flat front passenger seat (Prius v Two and Three only)
  • Front and rear door storage pockets with sculpted bottle holders
  • 60/40 split sliding reclining fold-down rear bench with center armrest with adjustable headrests
  • Smart Key System on driver’s door with Push Button Start and remote illuminated entry (Prius v Two and Three only)
  • Digital instrumentation with speedometer, odometer, twin tripmeters, fuel gauge, Hybrid System Indicator, hybrid battery state of charge indicator, instant/average fuel economy, distance to empty and shift- lever indicator,
  • Electronic shift lever with Hybrid Synergy Drive® blue accent
  • Center console with armrest, storage compartment, removable utility tray, MP3 player/iPod holder, 12V power auxiliary outlet
  • Three front and two rear cup holders
  • Power windows with auto up/down; jam protection in all positions and retained power features
  • Power door locks with shift-linked automatic locking feature with anti-lockout feature
  • Remote keyless entry system with lock, two-stage unlocking and panic functions
  • Tilt/telescopic steering wheel with audio, climate, and Bluetooth®- hands-free phone controls (Prius v Two only)
  • Cruise control
  • Overhead driver and front passenger map lamps
  • Passenger-side dual glove compartment
  • Remote hood and fuel-filler releases
  • Dual sun visors and illuminated vanity mirrors
  • Rear dome lamp and cargo area lamp
  • Retractable assist grips at all doors
  • One cargo area12V auxiliary power outlet
  • Cargo area under-floor storage, umbrella holder and area side panel storage

STANDARD AUDIO SYSTEM

Display Audio: 6.1-inch touch screen audio system with integrated backup camera, AM/FM CD player with MP3/WMA playback capability, six speakers, auxiliary audio jack, USB port with iPod® connectivity and control, vehicle information with customizable settings, hands-free phone capability and music streaming via Bluetooth® wireless technology. (Prius v two only)

Display Audio with Navigation and Entune™* includes: 6.1-inch touch screen with integrated backup camera display, AM/FM CD player with MP3/WMA playback capability, six speakers, SiriusXM™ Satellite Radio (includes 90 day trial subscription) HD Radio™ with iTunes® Tagging, auxiliary audio jack, USB port with iPod® connectivity and control, vehicle information with customizable settings, hand-free phone capability, phonebook access, advanced voice recognition, text to voice with programmed and customizable text responses, and music streaming via Bluetooth® wireless. (Prius v three and five only)

*Entune – includes Bing™, iheartradio, MovieTickets.com, Open Table® and Pandora®, real-time info including traffic, weather, fuel prices, sports, stocks, and news. All Entune™ features are included in three years of access to Entune™ services

**Not all apps are available at launch. See Toyota.com/Entune for details**

STANDARD SAFETY AND SECURITY

  • Star Safety System ™ – includes Enhanced Vehicle Stability Control (VSC), Active Traction control (TRAC), Anti-lock Brake System (ABS) with Electronic Brake-force Distribution (EBD), Brake Assist (BA), and Smart Stop Technology (SST).
  • Driver and front passenger Advanced Airbag System
  • Driver and front passenger front seat-mounted side airbags, driver knee airbag and front and rear side curtain airbags
  • Driver and front passenger Whiplash-Injury Lessening (WIL) seats
  • Tire Pressure Monitor System (TPMS)
  • Front and rear energy-absorbing crumple zones
  • Side-impact door beams
  • Driver and front passenger seatbelt warning sensor
  • Three-point seatbelts with Emergency Locking Retractor for all seating positions
  • Adjustable front seat shoulder anchors
  • LATCH (Lower Anchors and Tethers for Children) for outboard rear seating positions only
  • Child-protector rear door locks
  • Hill Start Assist Control (HAC)
  • Energy absorbing collapsible steering column
  • Engine immobilizer
  • Vehicle Proximity Notification System
  • Temporary spare tire

PRIUS V Trim Package Choices

Prius v Two – Standard equipment only

Prius v Three adds –

Display Audio with Navigation and Entune™* includes: 6.1-inch touch screen with integrated backup camera display, AM/FM CD player with MP3/WMA playback capability, six speakers, SiriusXM™ Satellite Radio (includes 90 day trial subscription) HD Radio™ with iTunes® Tagging, auxiliary audio jack, USB port with iPod® connectivity and control, vehicle information with customizable settings, hand-free phone capability, phonebook access, advanced voice recognition, text to voice with programmed and customizable text responses, and music streaming via Bluetooth® wireless.

*Entune – includes Bing™, iheartradio, MovieTickets.com, Open Table® and Pandora®, real-time info including traffic, weather, fuel prices, sports, stocks, and news. All Entune™ features are included in three years of access to Entune™ services

Tilt/telescopic steering wheel with audio, climate, Bluetooth® hands-free phone and voice-activated navigation controls.

Prius v Five adds –

  • 17-inch 10-spoke alloy wheels
  • SofTex-trimmed heated front seats with armrests and seatback pockets; six-way adjustable driver’s seat with power lumbar support; four-way adjustable fold-flat front passenger seat
  • LED headlamps with auto level control, auto-on/off feature and headlamp cleaners
  • Integrated fog lamps
  • Three-door Smart Key System
  • Auto-dimming rearview mirror with HomeLink® universal transceiver

Prius v Five Advanced Technology Package adds:

  • Premium HDD Navigation with Entune* and JBL® includes: seven-inch touch/split-screen with integrated backup camera display, AM/FM CD player with MP3/WMA playback capability, eight JBL GreenEdge™ speakers with amplifier, SiriusXM Satellite Radio (includes 90-day trial subscription) and SiriusXM Data Services (includes three-year trial subscription) with NavTraffic®, NavWeather™, Fuel and Sports and Stocks; HD Radio with iTunes Tagging, auxiliary audio jack, USB port with iPod connectivity and control, vehicle information, hands-free phone capability, phone book access, advanced voice recognition, text to voice with programmed and customizable text responses, and music streaming via Bluetooth wireless technology. (Prius v Five only)
  • Entune* – includes Bing, iheartradio, MovieTickets.com, Open Table and Pandora. All Entune features are included in three years of access to Entune Services.
  • Tilt/telescopic steering wheel with audio, climate, Bluetooth® hands-free phone, voice-activated navigation and Dynamic Radar Cruise (DRCC) controls
  • Panoramic View Moonroof with Power Sunshades
  • Dynamic Radar Cruise Control (DRCC), Pre-Collision System (PCS), Advanced Parking Guidance System (APGS)
  • Safety Connect™ includes Emergency Assistance, Stolen Vehicle Locator, Roadside Assistance and Automatic Collision Notification. Available by subscription. (Complimentary one-year trial subscription)

AVAILABLE EXTERIOR COLORS

  • – Clear Sky Metallic
  • – Blizzard Pearl
  • – Blue Ribbon Metallic
  • – Magnetic Gray Metallic
  • – Classic Silver Metallic
  • – Barcelona Red Metallic
  • – Black

BASIC LIMITED WARRANTY COVERAGE

  • Three-year/36,000-mile Comprehensive
  • Five-year/60,000-mile Powertrain
  • Five-year/unlimited-mileage Corrosion Perforation
  • Eight-year/100,000-mile Hybrid-related Component Coverage
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About Author: John Addison

Founder of the Clean Fleet Report, author of Save Gas, Save the Planet. John writes about electric cars, renewable energy, and sustainability. (c) Copyright John Addison. Permission to repost up to a 200 word summary if a link is included to the original article at Clean Fleet Report.

4 thoughts on “Prius v Test Drive Hybrid SUV with Best MPG

  1. Pingback: SANDRA
    • September 4, 2016 at 6:01 pm

      @Sandra,

      We’re here to serve. Glad you enjoy our observations. –ed.

  2. pecohen
    July 10, 2011 at 4:59 am

    How does this new SUV model handle in snow and ice?

    • John Addison
      July 10, 2011 at 7:37 am

      Thanks for your question to Clean Fleet Report. My previous 2002 Prius handled snow and ice better than expected. With chains, I could drive through a foot of snow. The new Prius V should do as well. All Prius models use low rolling resistance tires. None offer an AWD option. If you plan to drive in snow and ice over 20 days per year, consider making one car in your household an AWD from our top 10 list:

Let us know what you think.