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Tuesday, May 24th, 2011

Toyota Prius V Wagon, a great addition to the Toyota Prius hybrid lineup, and the first of several vehicles that will expand the iconic MPG Prius label beyond the current five-door hatchback model into different body styles and sizes.

Prius V Wagon

Prius V Wagon

Just Like Prius, A Little More Uniform

Every body panel on the 2012 Toyota Prius V is different from the Prius Hatchback, but there’s absolutely no mistaking it for anything other than a Toyota Prius hybrid.

This is not a Prius van or a wagon for the Cheaper by the Dozen Gang, but rather a vehicle for 1 to 4 occupants with a lifestyle full of activites.

From most angles, it looks more like a tall hatchback than a station wagon, perhaps deliberately. It’s only with the tailgate open, looking at it from the back or side, that the squared-up rear end and vertical cargo opening become apparent.

Two prominent features highlight the difference: First, there’s no secondary rear window below the main glass in the tailgate, as there is on the hatchback.

Then, inside, that George Jetson center console in the Hatchback has been replaced with a more traditional separate elbow bin and dashboard center stack that allows easy access to the cupholders, tray, and so forth mounted on the tunnel.

The dashboard again resembles the standard Prius, with the high-level central display offering an array of numbers, icons, diagrams, and symbols in a handful of colors.

Even with a larger length and wheelbase the Prius V Wagon drives like the regular Prius Hatchback. The Driver sits up a little higher over the Prius Hatchback; but, it’s not quite the commanding post of an SUV.

The Prius V uses the same 1.8 four cylinder power plant and Toyota Hybrid Synergy drive system as the hatchback, along with a very slightly reshaped nickel-metal-hydride battery pack mounted under the front of the load-deck floor.


With a curb weight of 3,274 pounds,  roughly 300 pounds heavier than the Prius hatchback, Toyota managed to engineer impressive gas mileage estimates, with the final figures coming in at 44 mpg city, 40 mpg highway, for a combined rating of 42 mpg.

The extra booty, combined with a greater aerodynamic drag from the larger frontal area of a taller, wider car, is what consumes more fuel.

Wide Load Bay, Sliding Rear Seat

Since Prius V is a station wagon, it’s meant to haul people and stuff and the significant figures are capacities and measurements. The EPA says the Prius V has 34.3 cubic feet of cargo volume with the rear seat up in its rearmost position, and 40.2 cubic feet if it’s slid as far forward as it’ll go. Folding the rear seat takes cargo volume up to 67.3 cubic feet.

Equally as important is the load floor. The Prius V had an admirable 39 inches between the insides of the wheel wells, ensuring that side boxes, dog carriers, and who-knows-what-else can slide in and sit flat on the floor.

Prius V Wagon Cargo Area

Prius V Wagon Cargo Aea

The depth of the cargo bay with the seat up, was 36 inches from tailgate to seat back, and ranged from 68 to 72 inches with the rear seat folded down,depending on how far forward the front seats were pushed.

A feature of value that may be missing are the side cargo levers that automatically fold the rear seat sections down when loading through the tailgate. Highlander and Rav4 have these and they are quite useful.

The 2012 Toyota Prius V comes standard with fabric trimmed seats, automatic climate control, a tilting and telescoping steering wheel, and–still rare in wagons–a rear seat that not only folds down and splits 60/40 but also slides fore and aft and reclines from 15 to 40 degrees.

Three trim levels: Two, Three, and Five

There are three trim levels for the Prius V, that mirror three of the four trim levels on the hatchback, Prius II, Prius IV, and Prius V. I know this can seem confusing, but don’t let it throw you. The V in Prius V stands for Versatility. The Prius V Two is the base model.

Upgrading to the Prius V Four adds a tilting-and-telescoping steering wheel with audio, Bluetooth, and climate controls in the steering wheel, plus voice-activated navigation controls.

It also includes a display audio plus navigation system with a 6.1-inch screen in the center console, and the new Toyota Entune cloud-based infotainment system.

Top of the line Five

The Prius V Five sports 17-inch, 10-spoke alloy wheels, a six-way adjustable driver’s seat with adjustable lumbar support, and a four-way adjustable front passenger seat, both of them heated and trimmed in lighter than leather SofTex fabric. Also in the Five package are LED head lamps, integrated fog lamps, and a smart-key system.

The Advanced Technology Package, only available on the Prius V Five, adds on top of all above an HDD navigation system, a panoramic view moonroof with electrically powered sunshades, and dynamic radar cruise control.

It also comes with one free year’s worth of the Safety Connect system, which provides emergency assistance, roadside assistance, automatic notification of emergency services in the event of a collision, and a stolen-vehicle location function.

The basic warranty on the 2012 Prius V is Toyota’s 3 years/36,000 miles comprehensive, with a 5 years/60,000 miles powertrain components warranty except the hybrid system, which is warranted for 8 years/100,000 miles.

Pricing is to be released closer to the car’s arrival in dealerships, which is planned for Fall 2011.