Full 2014 Toyota Prius v Review
What's New for 2014
Daytime running lamps are standard on all models, while a panoramic sunroof is a new stand-alone option for the Prius V's Three trim level. Otherwise, the 2014 Toyota Prius V carries over unchanged.
Crafted from the proverbial rib of the iconic Toyota Prius hatchback is the slightly larger Prius V wagon. Meant for people who want a hybrid car but find the standard Prius too small, the 2014 Toyota Prius V features considerably more cargo room and a bigger rear seat.
Measuring an inch wider, 6 inches longer and 3 inches taller than the hatchback, the Prius V offers 60 percent more cargo space, with a full 34 cubic feet of space behind the rear seats. It also features 60/40-split rear seats that slide and recline, as well as a front passenger seat that folds forward to accommodate longer items.
Of course, the Toyota Prius V wouldn't be a Prius if it didn't achieve stellar fuel economy. While its EPA rating of 42 mpg combined (44 mpg city/40 mpg highway) falls well short of the hatchback Prius' 50 mpg combined rating, this wagon is still in the fuel economy stratosphere and one of the most fuel-efficient family cars you can buy. Apart from its extreme mpg, the Prius V wagon is a fairly unremarkable car to drive, though its smooth, quiet ride makes it a viable choice for road trips.
Of course, there are other highly fuel-efficient wagons out there. One of our favorites is the Ford C-Max Hybrid, which offers more style, a nicer interior, better driving dynamics and even higher EPA fuel economy ratings. The Ford doesn't have as much cargo space, though. The diesel-powered Volkswagen Jetta Sportwagen TDI is another good alternative, particularly if you're interested in a wagon with a more premium-feeling interior. Still, the competent 2014 Toyota Prius V remains a top selection in this group, distinguishing itself with versatility, frugality and an abundance of Prius-style green cred.
Body Styles, Trim Levels, and Options
The 2014 Toyota Prius V is a five-passenger compact hybrid wagon available in three trim levels: the Two, the Three and the Five.
The base Two model rides on 16-inch alloy wheels and comes standard with 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, iPod/USB audio interface, and Bluetooth phone and audio connectivity.
The Three adds a navigation system with voice controls, a rearview camera, satellite radio and HD radio. The Three also comes with Entune, Toyota's multimedia interface that includes a navigation system, text-to-voice functionality and smartphone app integration. A panoramic sunroof is optional.
The Five model adds 17-inch alloy wheels, foglights, automatic LED headlights, an auto-dimming rearview mirror, eco-friendly "SofTex" leather-like upholstery and heated front seats.
The Advanced Technology package available on the Five includes the 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 2014 Toyota Prius V is powered by a 1.8-liter four-cylinder engine teamed with two electric motors and a battery pack. Combined output is 134 horsepower and 153 pound-feet of torque. Power is sent to the front wheels via a continuously variable transmission (CVT). The Prius V features three selectable driving modes: Eco (which slows response to accelerator-pedal inputs to promote fuel-efficient driving), Normal (the default mode) and Power (which makes the throttle more responsive).
In our track testing, the Prius V accelerated from zero to 60 mph in 10.3 seconds: considerably slower than the VW Jetta wagon (8.8 seconds) and the Ford C-Max (8.1 seconds). The EPA rates this hybrid wagon at 42 mpg combined (44 mpg city/40 mpg highway), and we've found it easy to achieve these numbers in real-world driving.
Every 2014 Toyota Prius V comes standard with antilock disc brakes, stability and traction control, front side airbags, side curtain airbags and a driver knee airbag. A rearview camera is standard on the Three and Five trim levels. In addition, Five models with the Advanced Technology package include a pre-collision safety system (which retracts the seatbelts and initiates braking in dire situations when a crash is deemed unavoidable) 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.
In government crash tests, the hybrid wagon earned a perfect five stars for overall crash safety. It earned four stars for its crash protection in frontal impacts and five stars for side impacts. The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety gave the Toyota Prius V its highest possible rating of "Good" in the moderate-overlap frontal-offset, side and roof strength crash tests. In the small-overlap frontal-offset crash test, however, the Prius V earned the lowest rating of "Poor." Its seat/head restraint design was rated "Good" for whiplash protection in rear impacts.
Interior Design and Special Features
The Prius V's cabin prioritizes user-friendliness above all else. Controls are large and clearly labeled, and the shift lever is placed within easy reach, high on the center stack near the steering wheel. Unfortunately, taller drivers still have to contend with a steering wheel that's placed too far away. The steering wheel telescopes, but it doesn't extend nearly far enough from the dash.
Storage opportunities abound within the cabin. For example, there are two stacked gloveboxes, and there's a large center console bin along with an open nook beneath the center stack.
While the cabin may excel in functionality, it's not especially attractive. As with the Prius hatchback, the Prius V's cabin design is plain, and less stylish than what you'll find in the competition. The gauges are nestled in a recessed area in the middle of the dashboard, leaving the area in front of the steering wheel open and unfinished-looking. Furthermore, the quality of the materials is inconsistent; some plastics are nicely grained, while others look flimsy and low-budget.
There's no shortage of tech amenities, though. Toyota's Entune system -- which harnesses the power of your smartphone to offer Bing search engine functionality, Pandora Internet radio and traffic, weather and fuel price information -- is standard on Three and Five models. Getting started with Entune can be a hassle, though, since you have to install an app on your phone and register for an account, plus you always need an active data connection to use it. The lower-cost touchscreen interface in the Three model has straightforward menus, but it's sometimes unresponsive to user touch, so we prefer the upgraded touchscreen that's optional in the Five.
The split-folding rear seat reclines and slides fore and aft, allowing you to choose limolike legroom, expansive cargo capacity or anything in between. It also provides good headroom for taller passengers. Luggage capacity logs in at a very generous 34.3 cubic feet behind the rear seats. 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 heavier 2014 Toyota Prius V feels more substantial and stable on the road, particularly at higher speeds. The ride is remarkably smooth and more comfortable than that of the standard Prius, thanks in part to the extra weight. The steering offers minimal feedback and doesn't feel a bit sporty, but its light effort makes the 2014 Toyota Prius V easy to maneuver in parking lots.
Acceleration is far from brisk, but most owners will find it adequate, given the hybrid wagon's exceptional fuel economy potential. Power mode provides an extra boost during highway passing maneuvers or when traveling up steep grades. The extra-frugal Eco mode is useful when driving in town, as it helps smooth out your acceleration efforts and provides real mpg benefits, but you'll likely want to switch it off when you're on the highway. Leaving the Prius V in Normal mode gives a good balance of fuel economy and acceptable performance.