Electric Cars Compete with Natural Gas and Diesel for Green Car of the Year

Electric Cars Compete with Natural Gas and Diesel for Green Car of the Year

Volt Green Car 2010

The 2012 Honda Civic Natural Gas was awarded Green Car of the Year® . The 2012 five finalists include the 2012 Ford Focus Electric, 2012 Mitsubishi i, 2012 Toyota Prius v, 2012 Honda Civic Natural Gas, and 2012 Volkswagen Passat TDI. I have been impressed with my test drives of these cars. All will be available for dealer sales by January 2, 2012.

Last year the Chevrolet Volt was the winner. This year, no plug-in hybrids are finalists, only pure battery-electric. In previous years, turbo diesel cars have won such as the Volkswagen Jetta TDI and the Audi A3 TDI. Naturally, the classic Prius Liftback was a past winner. This year the larger crossover Prius v is competing for the top spot.

Any of these five could be the best for you depending on where you drive, your space requirements, and availability of local fueling and charging. One choice may be greener for you than another. If you are disturbed that 96 of our transportation fuel comes from petroleum, and most from countries that could shut-off supply, or from deep water drilling with oil spills, or from tar sands, then an electric car may get your vote. Many electric car drivers that I meet use their solar power to charge their electric cars. For them their green choice from the list would be the Ford Focus Electric or the smaller and less expensive Mitsubishi i. If all your electricity is from a coal power plant and you need the room of an SUV crossover, then the Prius v may be a better choice.

2010 Honda Civic If you champion clean air then the Honda Civic Natural Gas may be your choice. Almost 13 million vehicles globally can be fueled with natural gas. If the fuel comes from bio-methane, then lifecycle emissions are quite small. If the natural gas comes from fracking and flames are coming out of your faucet, then you may make a different choice. This 4-door, 5-seat, sedan looks and drives like any other Honda Civic. The trunk has less because the natural gas tank is bigger than a gasoline tank. The Civic Natural Gas has an EPA rating of 28 mpg combined and 5.6 tons of CO2e annual emissions.

VW Passat TDIThe Volkswagen Passat TDI is a roomy 4-door, 5-seat, midsized sedan. In city driving a good hybrid will save at the pump compared with this diesel. If you mainly driving on highways, however, you are likely to enjoy well over 40 mpg due to the wonders of the modern turbo diesel engine. The Volkswagen Passat TDI has an EPA rating of 34 mpg combined and 6.2 tons of CO2e annual emissions. Diesel and Hybrid Comparison.

Toyota Prius VMy test drive of the new Toyota 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 goes on sale in January for only $3,000 more than the Prius Liftback. Toyota now offers four different cars in the Prius Family.  EPA annual emissions are expected to be 4.7 tons CO2e.  Prius v Crossover SUV test drive and review.

ford focus electricFord Focus Electric is a beautiful new pure battery-electric 5-seat hatchback with a 100-mile range. Ford will soon announce prices, start taking reservations and give the Nissan LEAF head-on competition. My test drive of a prototype showed solid handling, smooth acceleration, and a quiet drive. DOE lifecycle emissions would calculate to 3.7 tons of CO2 with the 50% coal U.S. energy mix (DOE GREET 1.8), half that in a state like California and zero source-to-wheels emissions using renewable energy. Ford Focus Electric test drive and review.

Mitsubishi iMitsubishi I is a fun-to-drive electric car that will save some city drivers a fortune by fitting into parking spaces that leave others heading to the parking garage. This 5-door hatchback comfortably seats 4. This pure battery-electric accelerated fine on the freeway. I even took it up a 16 percent grade that would bring some cars to a stand still. Customers are now out taking test drives in a number of cities and placing orders at up to $6,000 less than the Nissan LEAF. Mitsubishi I test drive and review. DOE lifecycle emissions would calculate to 3.7 tons of CO2 with the 50% coal U.S. energy mix (DOE GREET 1.8),half that in a state like California and zero source-to-wheels emissions using renewable energy.

These five candidates for 2012 Green Car of the Year®, ranging from a city car to a sedan to a roomy crossover demonstrate that we have exciting choices in meeting our needs in driving green and saving greenbacks at the pump.

Lexus RX 450h – Excellent Hybrid SUV with Optional AWD

Lexus RX 450h – Excellent Hybrid SUV with Optional AWD

By John Addison (9/12/11)

Lexus RX 450h and AWD Review and Prices

Now you can have an excellent SUV without sacrificing premium features, comfort and good fuel economy. The Lexus RX450h is a stylish 5-seat, 5-door, SUV that delivers 28 miles per gallon (mpg) city, 32 highway, and 30 overall. For an extra $1,590 you can get the all-wheel drive (AWD) version for better handling on snow and ice and still get 28 city, 30 highway, and 29 overall.

The FWD 2011 Lexus RX 450h has a suggested starting price of $44,735 and the 2012 are $500 higher. The 2011 Lexus RX 450h AWD has a suggested starting price of $46,325 and the 2012 are $500 higher. Both models run about $6,000 more than their non-hybrid counterparts, the Lexus RX 350 FWD and AWD, but the 450h saves you 40 percent at the pump. If you can negotiate a good price on a dealer sale of the 2011 RX 450h, there’s no reason to wait for a 2012 model.

With this midsized premium SUV (Lexus brands this as luxury) you will enjoy a smooth and quiet ride. It does not have the sports car feel of the Lexus 200h or the acceleration Lexus 600h. This is a stylish SUV for those who enjoy room, comfort, and the Lexus status. With optional packages you can surround yourself with luxury appointments of leather and wood, up to 12 sound speakers, and dual display entertainment system for the back seat.

Seating is comfortable for five people. The rear cargo space is 40 cubic feet. Lower the back seat and you have 80 cubic feet – enough for home projects, lots of luggage, or a couple of bicycles.

Lexus Hybrid Drive System

The Lexus hybrid drive system is smart enough to know when to only use the electric motors, when to engage the 3.5 liter engine, and when to use both. The full series/parallel hybrid drive system is based on the Toyota Hybrid Synergy Drive, a proven success in over 3 million Prius. The FWD has two electric motors. One acts as a generator, the other drives the front wheels. The AWD has a third electric motor for the rear wheels. Although Toyota Motors has switched to lithium batteries for its new electric cars, it is staying with the proven NiMH batteries for its Lexus hybrids.

Most of the time, you will probably want to be in Eco mode to save gas. Touch Normal for freeway acceleration or passing a slow truck on a two-lane road. EV mode will let you travel a short distance in silence with only the electric motor engaged, receiving electricity from the NiMH battery pack.


The Lexus RX is a top safety pick with the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety. Lexus RX safety features include:

  •  Active headrests for front seats
  •  Advanced technology airbag system Supplemental Restraint System (SRS) for driver and front passenger:
  •  Driver dual-stage airbag uses factors including crash severity and seat track position to choose one of three possible deployment speeds.
  •  Front passenger dual-stage twin-chamber airbag uses crash severity sensors to choose one of two deployment speeds. Airbag is designed to not deploy for passengers under 68.3 lbs. or when child seat is detected. (Advanced airbags in compliance with FMVSS208)
  •  ALR/ELR seat belt retractors on all outboard-seating positions except driver (ELR only)
  •  Brake pedal regression prevention mechanism helps reduce leg injuries in head-on impacts
  •  Daytime Running Lights (DRL)
  •  Driver and front passenger knee airbags
  •  Enhanced side-impact protection
  •  Enhanced-VSC (Vehicle Stability Control)
  •  Force-limiting seatbelt pre-tensioners for the driver’s and front passenger’s seats
  •  Four-sensor, four-channel Anti-lock Braking System (ABS) with Brake Assist (BA)
  •  Front and rear seat-mounted side airbags
  •  High-strength sheet steel components
  •  Roll-sensing front and rear side-curtain airbags
  • Side impact door beams
  •  Three-point seatbelts with pre-tensioners for outboard rear seating positions
  •  Tire pressure monitoring system

The optional Premium package includes Lexus Enform® with Safety Connect®:

  • Automatic Collision Notification,
  • Stolen Vehicle Location,
  • Emergency Assist Button (SOS),
  • Enhanced Roadside Assistance,
  • Destination Assist
  • eDestination (Complimentary one-year trial subscription included)

The AWD version improves fuel economy with a part-time AWD. When accelerating from a stop or if front-wheel slippage is detected, the AWD system on the RX 450h is designed to electrically power the rear wheels, delivering up to 50 % of torque to the real wheels, helping to provide additional drive force to propel the vehicle forward.

Other SUVs with Good Fuel Economy

Ford Escape Hybrid is over $10,000 less than the Lexus RX 450h. The Ford Escape Hybrid delivers better FWD mileage with 32 mpg overall with and 29 mpg with AWD. A range of premium options are available for the Escape Hybrid.

Toyota Prius V Crossover SUV. Lexus is the premium/luxury brand of Toyota Motors. The Prius is becoming a brand family as well.  Going on sale in 2012 is the Prius V, which offers as much room for 5 people and even more cargo space flexibility than the Lexus RX450h. The fuel economy is wonderful for a crossover with 44 mpg city, 40 highway, 42 overall. Although the Prius V lacks the luxury styling and appointments of the Lexus RX 450h, it is likely to save you $15,000 purchase price. The Prius V does not have an AWD option.

Toyota Highlander Hybrid is a larger SUV that can seat up to 7 people and still deliver good fuel economy with 28/28/28 mpg. It is about $6,000 less than the Lexus RX 450h and comes standard with electronic on-demand 4WD. A well appointed Premium version is available.

Toyota RAV4 EV can be ordered from dealers in 2012. This 5-seat, 5-door SUV, has about the same passenger and cargo space as the Lexus RX450h. The new RAV4 EV is a pure battery-electric with an estimated range of 100 miles. You’ll never pay a nickel at the gas pump. Toyota has not yet published a price. Toyota owns 2% of Tesla, which is supplying the lithium battery pack and working with Toyota on the electric drive system.

2011 and 2012 Lexus RX 450h Specifications


  • Wheelbase 107.9 in.
  • Overall Length 187.8 in.
  • Overall Width 74.2 in.
  • Overall Height (unloaded) 66.3 in. (without roof rack)
  • Tread Width – Front 64.2 in.
  • – Rear 63.8 in.
  • Ground Clearance 6.9 in.
  • Approach Angle 28.5 deg. – FWD 28.6 – AWD
  • Departure Angle 24.6 deg.
  • Breakover Angle 14.4 deg.


  • Seating Capacity 5
  • Headroom – Front (with moonroof) 39.1 in.
  • – Rear 37.7 in.
  • Legroom – Front 43.1 in.
  • – Rear 36.8 in.
  • Shoulder Room – Front 58.0 in.
  • – Rear 57.6 in.
  • Hip Room – Front 55.6 in.
  • – Rear 54.5 in.
  • Total Interior Volume 139.7 cu. ft.
  • Cargo Volume – Rear seats up and rearmost 40.0 cu. ft.
  • – Rear seats folded down 80.3 cu. ft.


  • Curb Weight 4,652 lbs. – AWD; 4,520 lbs. – FWD
  • GVWR 5,974 lbs. – AWD; 5,765 lbs. – FWD
  • Max Towing Capacity 3,500 lbs. (with appropriate hitch) – AWD
  • Not Applicable – FWD
  • Fuel Capacity 17.2 gal.


Type Series/parallel system with gas engine and electric motors

Total System Power 295 hp


  • Type, Materials V6, aluminum block and heads
  • Designation 2GR-FXE
  • Valvetrain DOHC 24-valve with VVT-i
  • Displacement 3.5 liter
  • Bore x Stroke 3.70 in. x 3.27 in.
  • Compression Ratio 12.5:1
  • Horsepower (SAE) 245 hp @ 6,000 rpm (not including hybrid drive)
  • Torque 234 lb.-ft. @ 4,800 rpm (not including hybrid drive)
  • Maximum Engine Speed (redline) 6,000 rpm
  • Fuel System Port Fuel Injection (SFI)
  • Fuel Requirement Performance numbers achieved with 91-octane unleaded fuel
  • Emission Certification SULEV II (California); Tier 2 – Bin 3 (all other states)
  • Evaporative Emission Certification Zero evap.


  • Motor Generator 1 (MG1) – Function Generator, engine starter, transmission ratio control
  • – Type Permanent magnet motor
  • – Max. voltage AC 650V
  • Motor Generator 2 (MG2) – Function Drives front wheels, regenerative braking
  • – Type Permanent magnet motor
  • – Max. voltage AC 650V
  • – Max. output 167 hp (123 kW)
  • Motor Generator Rear (MGR) – Function Drives rear wheels, regenerative braking
  • (AWD Model Only) – Type Permanent magnet motor
  • – Max. voltage AC 650V
  • – Max. output 68 hp (50 kW)


  • Type Sealed Nickel Metal Hydride (Ni-MH)
  • Nominal Voltage
  • Power Output
  • 288V
  • 37 kW


  • Layout Front gas engine with hybrid transaxle and front and rear electric drive motors, electric all-wheel drive
  • Transaxle/Transmission Type Electronically Controlled Continuously Variable Transmission
  • reduction and power splitting, electronic all- or frontwheel-drive control system
  • Designation P313


  • Body/Frame Unitized steel
  • Suspension – Front MacPherson strut, coil springs
  • – Rear Double wishbone type, coil springs
  • Steering – Type Electric Power Steering (EPS): rack and pinion with
  • electronic power assist
  • – Overall Ratio 14.8:1
  • – Turns (lock to lock) 2.79
  • – Turning Circle (wall to wall) 40.0 feet
  • Brake System Electronically Controlled Brake (ECB2) system with
  • regenerative control and incorporating Anti-lock
  • Braking System (ABS), Electronic Brake force
  • Distribution (EBD), Brake Assist (BA) and Vehicle
  • Dynamics Integrated Management system (VDIM)
  • Brake Rotors – Front – type/diameter Ventilated disc/12.9 in.
  • – Rear – type/diameter Disc/12.2 in.
  • Anti-Lock Braking System 4 channel, 4 sensor
  • Wheel Size/Type 18-in. x 7.5-in. (standard)
  • 19-in. x 7.5-in. (optional)
  • Tire Size/Type 235/60R18 (standard)
  • 235/55VR19 (optional)
  • Spare Tire/Wheel Compact


  • 0-60 mph Acceleration (mfg. results) FWD – 7.8 seconds AWD – 7.4 seconds
  • 0-1/4 Mile Acceleration (mfg. results) FWD – 16.0 seconds AWD – 15.6 seconds
  • Top Track Speed 112 mph – electronically limited
  • EPA Estimated Fuel Economy* (City/Hwy/Combined) FWD – 32/28/30 AWD – 30/28/29
  • Coefficient of Drag (Cd) 0.33


Overall Exterior Styling/Body Design

  • 18-inch x 7.5-inch five-spoke aluminum wheels
  • 235/60R18 tires
  • Blue highlights added to front and rear “L” logo, engine cover, headlamp lens cover, rear combination lamp cover
  • Front fog lamps integrated into bumper
  • “HYBRID” badge incorporated on side molding of rear doors
  • Integrated color-keyed rear spoiler with rear-windshield wiper
  • LED brake and tail lights
  • “Lexus Hybrid Drive” engine cover
  • Pronounced wheel wells give rugged stance
  • Rear privacy glass
  • Rear tail light housings merged with back window glass
  • Side mirrors with integrated LED turn signal lamps
  • Standard integrated rear spoiler that hides windshield wiper mechanism
  • Water-repellant front door glass

Body Structure and Paint

  • Acoustic glass windshield to reduce noise
  • Anti-chipping paint applied to rocker panels and wheel housing arch sections
  • Exterior colors (9): Matador Red Mica, Tungsten Pearl, Nebula Gray Pearl, Obsidian, Satin Cashmere
  • Metallic, Stargazer Black, Black Opal Mica, Cerulean Blue Metallic, Starfire Pearl
  • High level of rust protection with zinc-plated steel on hood, doors and front fenders
  • Highly rigid body, monocoque construction
  • Measures to limit noise, vibration and harshness (NVH) have been applied throughout the vehicle
  • Rear bumper protector
  • Soft chip primer applied to hood for improved anti-chipping
  • Sound insulation placed in door panels, instrument panel and floor mats
  • UV-reducing glass used for all windows

Convenience Features

  • Auto on/off headlamps
  • Auto-dimming and foldable electro-chromic outside mirrors
  • Heated outside mirrors
  • Integrated front fog lamps
  • Rear intermittent wiper
  • SmartAccess key system
  • Variable intermittent windshield wipers


Interior Trim

  • Carpeted floor mats (carpeted trunk mat optional)
  • Chrome inside door handles
  • Coat hooks
  • Fabric covered sun visors with adjustable-illumination vanity mirrors and slide extensions
  • Fabric-trim seats in Light Gray
  • Genuine Walnut or Bird’s Eye Maple wood trim on console and switch plates
  • Leather-trim three-spoke steering wheel and shift knob

Seats and Cargo Area

  • 10-way power driver’s and front passenger’s seats: fore-aft slide; fore-aft recline; front vertical height; rear vertical height and power lumbar support
  • Driver’s seat Easy Exit (auto away/return)
  • Rear center arm rest with cupholders
  • Rear seat one-touch fold levers
  • Reclining/sliding fold-down rear seats with 40/20/40-split
  • Tonneau cover for rear cargo area

Instrumentation and Controls

  • Organic white Light-Emitting Diode (OLED) multi-information display
  • Scheduled maintenance indicator light


  • 12-volt power outlets (3): center console box (1), lower console area (1), cargo area (1)
  • Assist grips: front (2), rear (2)
  • Auto on/off headlights
  • Automatic dual-zone climate control
  • Center console with cupholders (2) and storage bin
  • Courtesy lights mounted on doors
  • Dust and pollen particle and deodorizing interior air filter
  • Electrochromic rearview mirror with compass (without Navigation)
  • First aid kit
  • Front and rear map lights; cargo area light
  • Front seatback pockets
  • Incandescent dome light with white LED spot lights
  • Incandescent foot lights
  • LED illuminated center console and glove box
  • Lexus Personalized Settings (LPS) to allow certain vehicle settings to be tailored by owner
  • Manual front seatbelt anchor height adjusters
  • Power door locks with anti lock-out feature
  • Power tilt-and-telescopic steering column
  • Power windows with one-touch auto up/down feature with jam protection for all windows
  • Programmable garage door opener (HomeLink)
  • Pull-out front door storage pockets
  • Rear air conditioning vents mounted on rear of center console
  • Steering wheel audio controls
  • Tool kit


  • Lexus Premium Audio
  • 9 speakers
  • AM/FM antenna integrated into rear spoiler
  • In-dash six-disc CD auto-changer
  • Integrated SiriusXM Satellite Radio receiver (complimentary 90-day trial subscription included)


  • Entry system with lock, two-stage unlock, trunk open and “panic” features, volume-adjustable confirmation tone and rolling code technology
  • Headlight off delay feature
  • Multi-function SmartAccess remote with engine immobilizer and remote window “down” feature
  • Remote-activated/key-linked illuminated entry: dome light and ignition key cylinder ring
  • Safety Connect® with Automatic Collision Notification, Stolen Vehicle Location, Emergency Assist Button, and Enhanced Roadside Assistance (complimentary one-year trial subscription)
  • Vehicle theft-deterrent system


  • 19-inch split five-spoke wheels with All-Season 235/55/VR19 tires
  • Bi-Xenon High Intensity Discharge (HID) projector headlamps with Adaptive Front-Lighting System (AFS)
  • Heads-Up Display (AWD model only; Requires Navigation Package)
  • Heated and ventilated front seats (Requires Premium Package)
  • Intuitive Park Assist
  • LED headlamps with headlamp washers, Adaptive Front-Lighting System (AFS) and Intelligent High Beams
  • Mark Levinson® Audio System with 15 speakers and DVD changer (Requires Navigation Package)
  • Pre-Collision System and Dynamic Radar Cruise Control (AWD model only; Requires Premium or Luxury Package)
  • Rearview mirror backup monitor (non-navigation equipped vehicles only)
  • Towing hitch (AWD model only)
  • Towing Package (AWD model only)
  • Wood and leather-trimmed steering wheel and shift knob

Premium Package

  • Driver’s seat memory – three settings (steering wheel, mirror, seat)
  • Electrochromic outside mirror (auto-dimming)
  • iPod® headunit control / USB
  • Leather-trimmed seats
  • One-touch open/close, tilt and slide moonroof
  • Power rear door
  • Rear armrest storage w/lid

Luxury Package (Requires Comfort and Navigation Packages and LED Headlights) AWD models only Includes all Premium Package contents plus:

  • 19-inch split five-spoke wheels
  • Auto recirculation
  • Front seat cushion extender
  • Illuminated scuff plates (front only)
  • Power retractable outer mirror
  • Semi-aniline leather-trimmed seating
  • Wide-view front monitor system
  • Wood and leather-trimmed steering wheel and shift knob

Comfort Package (Requires Premium or Luxury Package; and Bi-Xenon High Intensity Discharge (HID) projector headlamps or LED headlamps with headlamp washers)

  • 12 Speaker Premium Audio System
  • Auto wipers (Rain-Sensing)
  • Heated and ventilated front seats
  • Navigation Package (Requires Premium Package)
  • Backup monitor
  • Bluetooth® hands free phone and phonebook download capabilities
  • HDD Navigation (Generation 6 system)
  • Lexus Enform® with Safety Connect®: Automatic Collision Notification, Stolen Vehicle Location, Emergency Assist Button (SOS), Enhanced Roadside Assistance, Destination Assist, and eDestination (Complimentary one-year trial subscription included)
  • Lexus Insider™
  • NavTraffic, NavWeather, Sports, and Stocks (complimentary one-year trial subscription included)
  • Remote Touch Navigation controller
  • Voice command casual-language voice recognition system
  • Dual-Screen Rear Seat Entertainment with Navigation (Includes Navigation Package)
  • 120V AC outlet in rear passenger compartment
  • Audio/video inputs
  • Dual wireless headphones
  • DVD rear seat entertainment system
Prius v Test Drive Hybrid SUV with Best MPG

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.


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


  • 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)


Acceleration 0-60 mph 10.4 seconds

Top speed 103mph


  • 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


  • 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


  • 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


Curb Weight 3,274 lbs.

Fuel Capacity 11.9 gal.


  • 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)


  • 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


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**


  • 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)


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


  • 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