‘GIVING MORE VERSATILITY TO ENVIRONMENTAL CONSCIOUS CONSUMERS
Fourteen years ago Toyota introduced the original Prius hybrid, the industry’s first hybrid technology-driven four-door sedan. After more than 2-million units sold around the world, the 2012 model year saw the splitting by Toyota of the Prius into four distinct new models. The original Prius gets update front and rear fascias, the latest in infotainment technologies and more ‘man-made’ materials. New models included a regular size Prius but with ‘plug-in’ hybrid technology with the ability to operate solely on electric power and the first to come with lithium-Ion batteries. This new Prius has the ability to travel up to 11 miles on battery power alone at up to 62 mph. It will then revert back to hybrid power once the batteries are depleted. This Prius also received a new front fascia and new taillights and has a mpg rating in electric power of 95/90-city/highway, and 51/48-city/highway in hybrid mode. The new Toyota Prius C is smaller and has a higher mpg rating of 53/46-city/highway. It is more affordable with a starting price of just $20,000.00. Despite its smaller size it can still hold up to five passengers. The real big news was the Prius V. Last year I only tested the new Prius C and now I am testing the Prius V which stands for versatility with more cargo space than 80% of small SUVs.
This new Prius V is geared to growing families with active lifestyles who need more room and cargo space while giving it the same attributes traditionally found in the previous Prius-Toyota’s Hybrid Synergy Drive system producing 66% fewer smog-forming emissions while giving the consumer EPA fuel economy rating of 44mpg/city, 40mpg/highway, and using many man made materials that can be recycled.
The Prius V emphasizes overall proportions with spaciousness and flexibility for active families with a comfortable interior space and good visibility that is assisted by a high seating position, substantial head room, and an impressive 38 inch couple distance providing generous rear legroom. A low, wide-opening rear hatch reveals 34.3 cu.ft. of cargo space behind the rear seats, making it the most spacious dedicated hybrid on the market. Comfortable seating for five is specifically designed for young families. Sliding second row seats allow for easy entry and rear storage flexibility, with a 40-degree recline for greater comfort. The 60/40 split folding rear bench seat presents four different seat arrangements that offers excellent usability for passengers and luggage, while a fold-down front-passenger seat allows for extra-long cargo.
Up front you are kept informed via a center-mounted instrument cluster with a hood to keep any glare from the sun out. It is a visually succinct space efficient design that is also exceptionally use-friendly with trip and fuel consumption readouts from buttons on the tilt/telescopic steering wheel. Below and to the left is your driving controls-push button start/stop, parking switch, drive-by-wire shift toggle. On the left of the center console are three driving mode buttons-B- for full electric drive, Eco-for normal driving and Power-to change the ECU mapping for quicker acceleration. Below on the center stack are controls for the automatic climate control that is easy to use. The center console features dual cupholders, and is accessible for you, your front passenger and rear seat passengers. The console is big enough to hold 23 CD cases, yet low enough so that lines of sight and conversation between everyone can be relaxed and natural.
A wide array of engineered storage spaces is located throughout the cabin. These include dual glove boxes, a center console utility tray and five cupholders in large and medium sizes. Bottle holders are built into the front and rear door pockets. Addition to the large main cargo hold, there are storage units built into the sides and under the cargo floor for storing equipment such as car wash items or gloves. Even a special space for umbrellas is located under the second row seats. Rear seats fold, slide and recline to configure for any mix of passengers and cargo, and operation switches are located conveniently next to the seats. New for Toyota is an optional seat material call SofTex that is designed for easy cleaning; resisting spills and wear in a family vehicle that could see heavy use on a daily basis. Soft to the touch, SofTex’s attributes as compared to leather and other traditional leatherette-type materials include a weight reduction of 50%, a manufacturing process with approximately 99% few volatile organic compounds than conventional synthetic leather, and it’s water and stain resistant. It also does not include any animal-based material.
Seamlessly integrated into the Prius V are state-of-the-art electronics and enhanced connectivity features. A Bluetooth wireless connection for compatible hands-free phone calls is standard, now improved by an automatic phone book transfer function. Also standard is a USB port that allows playing of music and video from portable audio devices, using the vehicle’s sound system and indash display screen, including full iPod integration. The standard audio system has a 6.1 inch screen and six speakers. The screen also displays the energy monitor and fuel consumption data, and functions as the monitor for the integrated back-up camera and the Display Audio System. The screen also offers a new value-driven navigation system and serves as a portal for Entune. An optional HD radio system enables CD sound quality from digital FM broadcasts, and has features that maximize analog and AM broadcast sound quality. The system includes HD radio and iTunes tagging for future purchase and Sirius satellite radio.
The new Prius V will be one of the first Toyota’s to offer the Entune multimedia system. This innovative system leverages the mobile smartphone to provide a richer in-vehicle experience with full integrated access to navigation, entertainment and information services. The Toyota Entune debuts the first-ever support for engaging mobile apps, such as Bing, OpenTable, and movietickets.com along with accessing useful travel-related services such as live weather, traffic, fuel information, stocks and sports. Toyota Entune brings the largest selection of music options available to a vehicle including iheartradio’s 750+ stations and Pandora’s personalized music service. The audio systems combined with Entune feature a best-in-class, advanced conversational voice recognition system that helps you stay focused on the road by eliminating the need to memorize thousands of voice commands.
The new Prius V is a perfect balance of spaciousness, new more refined styling and smooth aerodynamics with a 0.29 coefficient of drag. The Prius V was designed from the ground up, with a shape that has evolved from Prius rather than just an elongated version. Keeping air resistance low is the signature triangle Prius silhouette, adapted to a larger length. A flush surface from the front of the car through the front pillar works with side ‘aerocorners’ for excellent clean airflow. The smooth front sheetmetal blends into a carefully designed roof and greenhouse, leading to an optional cabin-end shape that acts to converge side and roof airflow. Wheels and wheel caps are designed with aerodynamic effects in mind. Enhancing the clean, low wind-resistance design are materials that keep the Prius V relatively light and easy to move. The door panels are foam-injected with polypropylene and the deck board with light-weight urethane to produce a weight savings of 20%. Significant weight reduction is also achieved through the use of high-tensile grades of steel throughout the body along with aluminum in key body panels and systems. Also, high-strength steel sheets and bars are used throughout the body to ensure a light, yet highly rigid platform structure.
Optional and a Toyota first, is a resin Panoramic View Moonroof with power retractable sun shades that give the interior an open feel with 40% reduction in weight as compared to conventional glass roofs of the same size and excellent heat insulation performance. The improved thermal resistance means the engine needs to run less to preserve comfortable ambient temperatures, which in turn enhances fuel efficiency. The moonroof has an electrically operated shade system with a jam protection function. Also optional is LED headlamps that work to improve visibility while reducing current draw. They use projector lenses to offer long-range visibility and are designed to be virtually maintenance free for the expected life of the car. Prius V also features a climate control system with enhanced cooling capability to cope with a larger cabin. The system uses an electric compressor so the A/C can run without depending on the engine, and improved component design for better maximum-demand cooling performance.
The Hybrid Synergy Drive system is essentially the same as the current third-generation Prius. The system uses two high-output motors, one 60kw (80hp) unit that mainly works to power the compact lightweight transaxle and another smaller motor that mainly works as the electric power source. Maximum motor-drive voltage is 650 volts DC. The proven and practical nickel-metal hydride battery pack is the same as on the other Prius models. As with the current generation Prius cars, Hybrid Synergy Drive is a series-parallel hybrid system that provides power either from the engine along, or the motor alone, or any mix of both. A hybrid control computer manages the system so that optimum power is delivered according to your demand. It uses a start/stop system and regenerative braking to conserve fuel and recharge the battery upon deceleration. The Hybrid Synergy Drive is built around a specially adapted, efficient 98 hp 1.8 liter four-cylinder engine that runs on the Atkinson cycle and contributes to a total system horsepower of 134.
The transmission is a smooth and quiet electric CVT (continuously variable transmission) with four drive modes. Standard driving mode, Eco mode prioritizes fuel economy, EV for electric only driving up to one mile, and Power mode that is great when entering fast moving highway traffic, and driving up slopes and mountainous terrain.
The longer wheelbase gives the new Prius V a smooth ride and the new Pitch and Bounce Control works with the suspension enhancements to improve ride comfort and control. As a result of its larger size it is capable of carrying more cargo loads. As a result the front and rear suspension components have been redesigned to improve handling and ride quality. Front coil-over springs and damper capacities have been significantly increased and a new upper support has been designed. The steering gear in the electric power steering system now is attached to the front suspension member, and the stabilizer bar is repositioned for more responsive steering feel and enhanced ride comfort. In the rear a torsion-beam suspension design has been fitted with appropriately tuned springs and dampers. The new rear suspension system is designed to help ensure stability and ride comfort, and it has a lower mounting point to improve luggage space. Furthermore, Pitch and Bounce Control uses the torque of the hybrid motor to enhance ride comfort and control. The system, working with wheel-speed sensors and in tune with the suspension, helps suppress bounce and toss motions to improve comfort for passengers and because it helps control the balance and posture of the vehicle as a whole, it also functions to improve handling response.
The Prius V stop quickly and always in control thanks to powerful regenerative steel disc brakes with ABS, VSC, Traction Control, EBD, BA and Smart Stop Technology. Up front are 10.8 inch vented discs and in the rear 11.5 inch solid discs. Each disc is clamped with large single-piston calipers.
The Prius V rides on 16X6.5 inch aluminum alloy wheels wrapped with load rolling resistance 205/60R16in. all-season, radial tires with 17X7 inch wheels and 215/50R17 inch low rolling resistance tires optional, for a smooth and quiet ride.
Standard features not mentioned above includes AM-FM-CD with MP3/WMA, 6-speakers, Sirius satellite radio, HD radio/Bluetooth, USB connectivity, all express power windows/door locks, dual map lights, center console with dual cupholders/storage bin/padded armrest, cruise-control, grab handles above each door, dual vanity mirrors, variable intermittent wipers/washers/rear wiper/washer, remote power side mirrors, 2-12-volt power plugs, thick cut-pile carpeting and front/rear floor mats.
Standard safety features include front/side impact airbags, front/rear side-curtain airbags, three point safety belts for all five seats with front pretensioners/load limiters, LATCH system for child seats, engine immobilizer, front/rear crumple zones and steel beams in each door.
After my seven-day test drive around the city and on the highway I got 44.9mpg on the trip computer. This new Prius V is the best station wagon styled hybrid with enough room for the whole family including plenty of room for cargo for long vacation trips with excellent fuel economy, a smooth and controlled ride that has no piers for the starting price of just $27,165.00.
COPYRIGHT: 2013: HARVEY SCHWARTZ