2012 Prius V wagon


(Photo courtesy of Toyota)
December 30, 2011

Bottom line: Toyota gets a thumbs-up on this one. It’s the right compact wagon delivered at the right time at what arguably is the right price. I predict success.

Ride, acceleration, handling: The Prius V gets decent marks in all three. “Decent” means a smile above “dull,” neither awful nor exceptional.

Head-turning quotient: The Prius V is a longer version of the Prius hatchback. People think it’s the same car until they see you load it with cargo.

Body style/layout: It is a compact, front-wheel-drive gasoline-electric hybrid wagon in which a small gasoline engine works with a pair of electric drive motors to do the work. The Prius V is six inches longer and three inches taller than the Prius hatchback. The wheelbase, the center-line distance between the front and rear wheels, is three inches longer.

Engine/transmission: The power system combines a 1.8-liter, 16-valve in-line four-cylinder gasoline engine with a nickel-metal-hydride battery package (as currently sold in the United States) with a pair of electric drive motors. Overall horsepower is 134. Maximum torque yield is 153. The system is connected to a continuously variable automatic transmission.

Capacities: Seats for five people. Maximum cargo capacity is 67.3 cubic feet (with rear seats raised, it’s 34.3 cubic feet). The fuel tank holds 11.9 gallons of gasoline — regular unleaded is recommended.

Mileage: The Prius V wagon delivers what it promises — 44 miles per gallon in the city and 40 on the highway.

Notable technology: Toyota’s available Entune system mates perfectly with smartphones, including most available apps, turning the car into a virtual office, concierge, broadcasting station, emergency communication center and more.

Safety: Standard equipment includes four-wheel disc brakes (ventilated front, solid rear); four-wheel anti-lock protection; emergency braking assistance; electronic stability and traction control; side air bags; and a tire-pressure monitoring system.

Price: The base Prius V wagon (V One) starts at $26,400. A mid-grade Prius V Three starts at $27,165. The Prius V Five driven for this column starts at $29,900. I don’t look for much bargaining on any of these. There’s nothing else out there quite like them, especially when it comes to mileage. Happy new year!

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