The Toyota Prius v - the "big Prius" - gets a new look for 2015. But Toyota didn't mess with the outstanding roominess in the largest model in the Prius Family, a car sized for families with a hefty 42 MPG EPA combined fuel economy rating.
Revised front and rear styling and striking new colors including Attitude Black Metallic, Absolutely Red and tasty Toasted Walnut Pearl give Prius v a sportier attitude. The new front bumper, grille, available integrated fog lights and available Toyota-first LED projector low- and high-beam headlights contribute to the roomy Prius v sporty makeover. Inside, new EntuneÂ® Audio systems bring new multimedia capabilities. The newly available 8-way power driver's seat with power lumbar support offers even more comfort to the already high-utility interior. Technology is updated with a 4.2-inch TFT screen that is standard on Prius v Three and higher and the available Advanced Technology Package has been upgraded for 2015 model year.
The "v" in the Prius v stands for versatility, by the way, which seems appropriate in a highly efficient vehicle that offers more cargo room than most small SUVs.
Using the same Hybrid Synergy Drive system as the standard Prius, the Prius v delivers EPA-estimated 44 MPG city / 40 MPG highway ratings, an exceptional level of efficiency for such a roomy and versatile vehicle. The Prius v rides on a 3.1-inch longer wheelbase and is 5.9 inches longer overall than the Prius liftback. Those modest differences in exterior dimensions yield nearly 60 percent more cargo space with 34.3 cu. ft. behind the rear seats vs. 21.6 cu. ft. for the Prius liftback.
With its 60/40 split folding rear seats folded down, the Prius v offers 67.3 cu. ft. of carrying space. In fact, the combination of a roomy cabin and cargo area earns the Prius v a "midsize station wagon" classification from the EPA. The low, wide-opening tailgate provides easy access, and the fold-flat front-passenger seat allows the vehicle to carry long items. And, the sliding second row seats let you adjust room for passengers or cargo.
Familiar Prius Look, Upsized
A familiar silhouette helps make the Prius v instantly familiar and is also slippery through the air. The 0.29 coefficient of drag is low for a vehicle of its size and roominess. Even the wheels are designed with aerodynamic efficiency in mind. These measures and others also help to suppress wind noise.
Extensive use of high-tensile grades of steel throughout the body along with aluminum in key body panels and systems keeps weight low: a Prius v weighs just 268 pounds more than a standard Prius liftback.
A resin Panoramic View Moonroof with power retractable sunshades provides an open feeling in the cabin and is 40-percent lighter than a conventional glass roof of similar size. The construction also provides excellent heat insulation performance, reducing the load on the vehicle's climate control system.
A Peek Into the Future: Simple, Easy Controls
Get behind the wheel of a Prius v, and you'll be struck by the cockpit's clean yet futuristic appearance. You'll also be pleased by how easy the controls are to see and use. The center-mounted instrument panel puts vital information at eye level. Don't look for a shift lever or parking brake handle -- push buttons are used to start and operate the car, and the drive-by-wire shift toggle replaces a clunky lever. A single automatic climate control dial looks advanced and works with ease.
The available animal-free SofTexÂ® seat material is designed to resist spills and wear - perfect for a family vehicle. As the name suggests, it's soft to the touch. SofTex is also lighter than leather and other traditional leatherette-type materials, and its production generates 85 percent fewer volatile organic compounds (VOCs) than conventional synthetic leather production.
The new 4.2-inch TFT screen nestled between the gauges, is standard on Prius v Three and higher. The screen's animation displays a wide range of vehicle functions including odometer, clock, climate control settings, fuel economy, fuel economy history, current/average fuel economy, cruising range, average speed, hybrid system information, Hybrid System Indicator, energy monitor, audio menu, simple navigation indicator and warning messages.
You'll find useful storage spaces throughout the Prius v, including dual glove boxes, a center console storage box and utility tray and five cup holders in large and medium sizes. Bottle holders are built into the front and rear door pockets, and most models feature an overhead storage space that can hold sunglasses.
Storage units built into the sides of the luggage compartment hold smaller items, and there's another space under the floor, suitable for storing soft items like car wash supplies or gloves. There's even a space under the rear seats specially designed to store umbrellas.
Hybrid Synergy Drive: The Hybrid Gold Standard
Toyota's clear hybrid leadership shines through in the Hybrid Synergy DriveÂ® powertrain, which combines the output of a 1.8-liter Atkinson-cycle, 4-cylinder engine with an electric motor. A full hybrid, the Prius v can run on the gasoline engine alone, battery alone, or a combination of both.
The system's combined 134 net system horsepower feels even stronger to the driver due to the unique way the system combines the torque of the gasoline engine and electric motor through a planetary-type continuously variable transmission. Automatic start/stop helps to reduce fuel consumption in urban driving.
The compact and lightweight gasoline engine operates very quietly and qualifies for SULEV and Tier2 Bin3 emissions standards. The nickel-metal hydride battery pack is the same as in the Prius liftback, but with a cooling duct located under the rear seat.
Like the Prius liftback, the Prius v presents the driver with the choice of four driving modes, NORMAL, POWER, ECO and EV. POWER mode enhances mid-range response for better performance on slopes and mountainous terrain. ECO mode adjusts throttle input and climate control to maximize fuel economy. In EV mode, the Prius can drive on battery power alone at low speeds for about a mile under certain conditions. When operating under battery power only, the Prius v is ultra-quiet, so a Vehicle Proximity Notification System helps alert pedestrians and cyclists by emitting a small warning sound.
As in other Toyota hybrids, the Prius v employs numerous special features to squeeze maximum efficiency out of every gallon of regular-grade gas. Regenerative braking helps to recapture electrical energy under deceleration, sending it to the battery, which helps to reduce fuel consumption.
The electric water pump and electric power steering work without accessory drive belts, which helps reduce maintenance costs. Likewise, the climate control system uses an electrically driven compressor, so the air conditioning can run even when the gasoline engine shuts off, as it does under certain conditions in normal driving. The available single LED projector low and high-beam headlights enhance visibility while reducing electric draw and are designed to be virtually maintenance free for the expected life of the vehicle.
Banishing the Bounce
Know those irritating expansion strips on some freeways? Toyota engineered a system called Pitch and Bounce Control for the Prius v to even things out. The novel system uses the torque of the hybrid motor to enhance ride comfort and control and help make the ride feel more composed over such surfaces. The Prius v comes standard with 16-inch alloy wheels with full wheel covers, and 17-inch alloy wheels are available.
EntuneÂ® Unlocks a World of Information
The Prius v is equipped with Toyota's latest multimedia technology. The standard Entune Audio is a touch-screen system with a 6.1-inch screen. The AM/FM CD player unit offers MP3/WMA playback capability with six speakers, a USB 2.0 port for iPodÂ® connectivity and control, rear camera display, Bluetooth hands-free phone capability and audio streaming, and an auxiliary input jack. The display also provides vehicle information and allows the driver to customize vehicle settings.
The Prius v Three trim line adds Entune Premium Audio with Navigation and App Suite including the Entune Multimedia Bundle (6.1-inch high resolution touch-screen with split screen display, advanced voice recognition), HD radio, HD predictive traffic and Doppler weather overlay, AM/FM cache radio, SiriusXM All Access Radio with 3-month complimentary trial, Gracenotes album cover art, and integrated backup camera display.
The Toyota Entune App Suite is a collection of popular mobile applications and subscription-free data services. Once a smartphone is paired to the vehicle using Bluetooth or a USB cable, Entune apps are operated using the vehicle's controls or, for some services, by voice recognition. Entune App Suite includes Bingâ„¢, Facebook Places, iHeartRadio, MovieTickets.com, OpenTableÂ®, and PandoraÂ® and Yelpâ„¢; real-time information including traffic, weather, fuel prices, sports and stocks.
The range-topping multimedia package sounds amazing, offers more features and functions and even helps reduce energy consumption. The upgraded Entune Premium JBL Audio with Navigation and App Suite adds JBLÂ® Green Edgeâ„¢ speakers to provide a high-quality sound. The GreenEdge system draws less energy than conventional components.
A Safety Star
There's safety in strength in the Prius v. Expansive use of high-strength steel, notably in the front frame members, is key to the strong body structure that's also commendably light. Similarly engineered reinforcements using high tensile steels help to protect the cabin from side and rear intrusions by dispersing energy throughout the vehicle.
Like all Toyota models, the Prius v features Toyota's Star Safety Systemâ„¢, 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.
There are seven airbags, including a knee airbag for the driver. The front seats are designed to help lessen the possibility of whiplash injury during certain types of severe rear end collisions.
The Prius v also offers several in-demand advanced safety features as part of the Advanced Technology Package. The available Pre-Collision System retracts seatbelts and even applies the brakes in certain conditions when a frontal crash is unavoidable. It is paired with Dynamic Radar Cruise Control, which is designed to help maintain a set distance from a vehicle traveling ahead.
The Advanced Technology Package for the Prius v adds Lane Departure Alert and Automatic High Beams for 2015 model year. The Lane Departure Alert system helps the vehicle "see" the lines in the road and sounds an audible warning if the vehicle is straying outside the lane markers.
The available Safety Connect system can access a call center with a live operator who can dispatch police and emergency vehicles. The system offers automatic collision notification and a stolen vehicle locator feature. A one-year trial subscription is included.