Full 2013 Toyota Prius v Review
What's New for 2013
Save for the addition of a SofTex-trimmed steering wheel on Prius V Five models, the Toyota Prius V carries over unchanged for 2013.
With the 2013 Toyota Prius V, Toyota proves that it's got the business of catering to family-oriented car shoppers down to a science.
The Prius hybrid hatchback has been a huge hit for Toyota on the strength of its outstanding utility and exceptional fuel efficiency. The 2013 Toyota Prius V is built using the same basic formula as its omnipresent sibling, with the addition of greater passenger and cargo capacity.
With the Prius V, what you get is essentially a stretched, wider Prius. The V is an inch wider, 6 inches longer and 3 inches taller than the hatchback, with 60 percent more cargo capacity; peek behind the rear seats and you'll find 34 cubic feet available for your cargo. The cabin is designed to handle most daily tasks. The rear seats slide, recline and fold down, for instance, and you can even squeeze in unusually long cargo thanks to its fold-flat front passenger seat.
Superb fuel economy is, of course, a central part of the Prius' appeal, and the Prius V shares its powertrain with the hatchback: a 1.8-liter gas engine teamed with an electric motor and a nickel-metal hydride battery pack to generate a combined 134 horsepower. Though the V isn't quite as frugal as its smaller sibling (EPA ratings are 44 mpg city/40 mpg highway and 42 mpg combined), its mileage is still high enough to make it a compelling pick relative to most choices in the compact wagon/crossover segment.
The Prius V, however, is burdened by the same shortcomings as the standard Prius -- namely, bland handling and a dull-looking cabin. And these flaws are brought into sharper focus with this year's introduction of a new rival, the 2013 Ford C-Max Hybrid. The C-Max offers more engaging driving dynamics and a nicer cabin than the V, along with slightly better EPA mpg ratings. Still, the Prius has it handily beat in the area of cargo capacity. The refined and fuel-efficient Volkswagen Jetta Sportwagen TDI is also worth a look. But the competent 2013 Toyota Prius V remains a top selection despite a growing pool of rivals, distinguishing itself with its strong blend of versatility and frugality.
Body Styles, Trim Levels, and Options
The 2013 Toyota Prius V is available in three trim levels: the Two, the Three and the Five.
Standard equipment on the base Two includes 16-inch alloy wheels, keyless ignition/entry, a tilt-and-telescoping steering wheel, automatic climate control, cruise control, a height-adjustable driver seat, a fold-flat front passenger seat, a 60/40-split-folding rear seat that slides and reclines, and a six-speaker sound system with a CD player, an iPod/USB audio interface and Bluetooth connectivity/streaming audio.
The Three adds a navigation system with voice controls along with a rearview camera, satellite radio and HD radio. You also get Entune, Toyota's multimedia interface with text-to-voice functionality and app integration. The Five adds 17-inch alloy wheels, foglights, automatic LED headlights, an auto-dimming rearview mirror, upgraded upholstery (Toyota's new SofTex -- an eco-friendly alternative to leather) and heated front seats.
An Advanced Technology package is offered with the Five and includes a panoramic sunroof, adaptive cruise control, an automated parallel-parking system, an upgraded navigation system with a larger touchscreen, a premium eight-speaker sound system, a pre-collision safety system and Toyota's Safety Connect system.
Powertrains and Performance
The 2013 Toyota Prius V is motivated by a 1.8-liter four-cylinder engine teamed with a pair of electric motors that yields a combined total output of 134 hp and 153 pound-feet of torque. Power is sent through a specialized continuously variable transmission (CVT).
In track testing, the Prius V went from zero to 60 mph in 10.3 seconds: notably slower than rivals like the aforementioned Jetta wagon (8.8 seconds) and C-Max (8.1 seconds). Fuel economy is still excellent, though, at 44 mpg city/40 mpg highway and 42 mpg combined.
Every 2013 Toyota Prius V comes standard with antilock disc brakes, stability and traction control, front side airbags, side curtain airbags and a driver knee airbag. Optional equipment includes a pre-collision safety system and Toyota's Safety Connect telematics system (which includes emergency assistance and a stolen-vehicle locator). In brake testing, the Prius V stopped from 60 mph in 129 feet, which is a bit longer than average.
The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety gave the Prius V its highest possible rating of "Good" in the frontal-offset, side and roof strength tests.
Interior Design and Special Features
User-friendliness is the prevailing theme within the Prius V's cabin. Controls are large and clearly labeled, and the shift lever is placed within easy reach, high on the center stack near the steering wheel. As such, this wagon is a good match for drivers with arthritis or other mobility challenges. Sadly, taller drivers still have to contend with a steering wheel that's placed too far away. There's a telescoping column, but it doesn't extend nearly far enough.
While the cabin may excel at being functional, it's not especially pleasing to look at. As with the Prius hatchback, the Prius V's cabin design is plainer and less ambitious than what you'll find in the competition. Materials quality is inconsistent; while some plastics are nicely grained, others look flimsy and low-budget. On the plus side, storage opportunities abound within the cabin. For example, there's a huge two-tiered glovebox that swallows more than just an owner's manual, and there's a large center console bin along with an open nook beneath the center stack.
There's no shortage of tech amenities either. Toyota's Entune -- which offers Bing search engine functionality, Pandora Internet radio, MovieTickets.com and real-time traffic, weather and fuel price information -- is standard on Three and Five models. All Prius V models come with Bluetooth connectivity and music streaming.
A reclining backseat slides fore and aft, allowing you to choose between limolike legroom and expansive cargo capacity. Luggage capacity logs in at a very generous 34.3 cubic feet. Total cargo capacity is also excellent. With 67.3 cubic feet available with the rear seats down, the Prius V rivals most small crossover SUVs.
Relative to the Prius hatchback, the 2013 Toyota Prius V feels more substantial and stable on the road; you can thank its heavier curb weight for this. The ride is quite smooth and comfortable, and while acceleration is far from brisk, the wagon gets up to speed in an acceptable manner. A Power mode is available to provide an extra boost during highway merging or when traveling up steep gradients. There's also an extra-frugal Eco mode, which is fine in city travel, but its sluggish response makes it unsuitable for the highway. The electric steering is rather numb, but its light effort makes the 2013 Toyota Prius V easy to maneuver in parking lots.