Thursday, March 28, 2013

First Drive: 2013 Toyota Prius V

The Toyota Prius came out in 1997 and is the face of hybrid vehicles. The Prius is so popular that Toyota has created a Prius Family. There is the standard Prius, a plug-in hybrid version of the Prius, the Prius C, and the Prius V. The Prius V is a front-engine, front-wheel drive, compact MPV with a hybrid drivetrain. I first saw a Prius V in a movie theater parking garage in early 2012 and at the 2012 Houston Auto Show. At the 2013 Houston Auto Show, I took one out for a test drive.

The Toyota Prius is not easy on the eye. The Prius V looks like a Prius with a larger rear end. There are no sleek body lines on the Prius V. The lights on the bottom corners of the front bumper hurt the styling of the Prius V. The Prius V is an eye sore. One advantage of the larger hatchback is more headroom for rear passengers. I hit my head on the roof when I sat in the back of the standard Prius. The Prius V has the same interior as the standard Prius. I still do not like that the gear changer is on the dashboard, and not between the driver and passenger seats. Behind the wheel, I had a good amount of headroom and legroom. Plus the seat was comfortable. But Toyota should have given the Prius V its own interior instead of putting the interior from the Prius in the Prius V.

The Prius V is powered by a 1.8L I4 engine that produces 98 hp and 105 lb-ft of torque and an electric motor that produces 80 hp and 153 lb-ft of torque. The combined output is 134 hp and includes a 1.3 kWh nickel-metal hydride battery pack. The Prius V goes from 0 to 60 mph in 10.3 seconds and reaches a top speed of 103 mph. I have driven the Prius and the Prius V and the Prius V felt quicker than the Prius. Both have the same drivetrain and the Prius V is heavier than the Prius, but the Prius V just seemed faster. The Prius V drove smoothly on Houston roads. If I did a second test drive, I would do highway driving to see if it can handle highway speeds, something that the standard Prius could not do. Also, it was quiet in the Prius V. It was quite noisy inside the baby Prius C. Still, this was not a fun car to drive. Prices for the Prius V start at $26,650.

Overall, the Prius V is subpar. I have driven its competitor, the Ford C-Max, and I had more fun in the C-Max. But, I had more fun in the Prius V than I did in the Prius. Toyota needs to greatly improve the styling of the Prius familly. The Prius family line of cars is hard on the eyes. I understand that Toyota designed the Prius family with a low air drag coefficient, 0.25, but the exterior styling suffers greatly for it. The interior is nothing special for the Prius V, especially since the interior is the same as the interior in the Prius. The Prius V has the same drivetrain as the Prius, but it is slightly heavier. Car companies need to realize that if you are going to add weight to a car, you have to up the power output of the engine or the performance suffers. The Prius V somehow felt quicker than the standard Prius. It might have been that I was driving the Prius in Eco mode and the Prius V in standard mode. I am not a fan of the Prius family. I think the Prius cars are boring to drive. If excitement and fun have to be sacrificed in order to get a car with an EPA estimated 45+ mpg, then it is not worth it. I cannot recommend the Prius V over the Ford C-Max. The Prius V is not as bad as the Prius C, but it is still a subpar car. Yet, fans of the Prius who want a slightly larger car would go for the Prius V. If you are looking for a fuel efficient car and want to have some fun while driving, look elsewhere. Plus, there are much better cars than the Prius V four around the same price. For its bland interior, horrendous exterior, and underwhelming power and performance, the Toyota Prius is a pass.

Photo was taken by a digital camera.
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