Friday, July 12, 2013

2013 Toyota Prius v: the family member for families

If hybrids one day become a common sight on Canadian roads, it will be the fruit of Toyota's efforts. No one pushes gas-electric vehicles like the Japanese brand has been doing over the last decade, and their strategy seems to be working.
Instead of one Prius, we now have a family of four models to choose from. The 2013 Toyota Prius v can be considered the most practical of all, and for family-minded consumers who feel gasoline is too expensive, this hybrid will fill the bill.
Well, it likely will; that is, if you don't consider driving excitement to be a must-have, because the Prius v, or any Prius for that matter, won't get your adrenaline pumping.
The objective is clear, and that's to save fuel; the 2013 Toyota Prius v does that extremely well. With plenty of room for five and a decent amount of cargo space, it must rival the recently-introduced Ford C-MAX, which is offered in both hybrid and plug-in hybrid variations. Oh, Toyota also offers a plug-in version of the Prius, but only in the liftback body style.Equipped with a 1.8L Aktinson-cycle gas engine, an electric motor, a continuously variable automatic transmission and a nickel-metal hydride battery pack, the Prius v serves up 134 horsepower. There is also a drive mode system; the button marked PWR adjusts throttle sensitivity and quickens the gearbox's willingness to swing the gas engine into its sweet spot and prod the electric motor to help out.
You can also activate an EV mode which kills the gas engine for a while as you drive on electric power alone; it only works at slow speeds for about two kilometres, and once the battery pack's energy level drops below a certain point, the EV mode switches itself off.
Slow and steady
Unlike conventional gas-powered vehicles that burn fuel uselessly when stuck idling in traffic jams, the Prius v smartly manages to conserve it by activating its shutting off the engine and creeping along in EV mode. The Prius v prefers relaxed driving by far, such as cruising on the highway at a stable clip or leisurely strolling through town. With its numb steering and fuel-saving throttle response, cut-and-thrusting through traffic is obviously not this car's forte.
You get a fair amount of features in the 2013 Toyota Prius v, and that includes climate control, a rearview camera, an intelligent key and a decent six-speaker stereo with 6.1-inch touchscreen and Bluetooth connectivity. Navigation, a panoramic sunroof, LED headlights, heated front seats and leather upholstery are also available. The detailed trip computer helps you make the most out of your eco-driving techniques.
During this year's 2013 AJAC Ottawa-to-Montreal Eco-Run, I was assigned the Prius v for the drive on the final leg of the event. Right after rush hour, the highway was still busy but traffic was flowing at a steady clip. And since keeping a steady speed is good eco-driving practice, I arrived at our destination having consumed only 5.0 L/100km. Not too shabby.
The versatile choice
And since this is the biggest Prius of the family, cargo space is pretty generous. It's rated at 971 litres behind the rear seat; fold the latter down, and you get a (somewhat optimistic) volume of 1,906 litres.
Starting at $27,425 before freight and delivery charges, the 2013 Toyota Prius v costs about $1,300 more than a regular Prius Liftback and about $200 more than a base C-MAX Hybrid. In short, the Prius v is a family hauler that consumes very little fuel and provides great versatility. If saving money at the pump is much more important than driving pleasure, this hybrid will serve you well.