2014 Toyota Prius V 5 Wagon (1.8L 4-cyl. Hybrid CVT)
The Toyota Prius V builds on the already strong Prius by substantially increasing passenger and cargo space. As with most hybrids, you'll sacrifice quite a bit of performance, but the payoff in fuel economy is far more important to shoppers in this segment.
PerformanceWith the Prius V's tight focus on fuel economy, performance is secondary. It neither accelerates nor corners with any urgency and the driver feels noticeably disconnected from the car's limited dynamics. In city or suburban driving it will suit most drivers just fine.
During our testing, the Prius V accelerated from 0 to 60 mph in a very slow 10.7 seconds. With the pedal floored, a loud groan from the engine is constant as the CVT keeps revs high. Highway merging and passing requires some planning.
A panic stop from 60 mph took an acceptable 122 feet. In normal driving, the pedal is soft as initial pedal application engages the hybrid system's regenerative braking. At first, drivers may find the lack of responsiveness unsettling.
Steering effort is very light and relays very little information to the driver. This is fine in a crowded parking lot, but on twisting roads, it may leave some drivers unsatisfied. The ovoid steering wheel is also odd when quick-steering is required.
Body roll is prominent when cornering, as is a loud howl from the tires. Like the rest of the Prius V's performance, handling is best described as acceptable or leisurely. For the hybrid segment, however, it's just about what you'd expect.
Despite its limited performance, the Prius V is very easy to drive and places no demands on the driver. Extracting high fuel economy results does not require any special driving techniques and it's very maneuverable in tight spots.
ComfortSeats are our main complaint when it comes to comfort. For an average 5' 10" driver, a lack of thigh support and steering wheel placement are definite drawbacks. Toyota's SofTex coverings feel like outdated vinyl and are uncomfortable after only an hour of driving.
The lack of extension from the telescoping steering wheel forces even average-sized drivers to sit upright as if it were a minivan. The short cushions and stifling, heat-retaining synthetic coverings in all seats also compromise comfort.
All but the most pockmarked road surfaces are well smoothed over by the Prius V's soft suspension. At highway speeds, it never feels floaty or unsettled.
On flat roads, the Prius V adequately silences road and wind noise. Whether climbing or descending hills or under hard acceleration, a loud and constant groan from the engine could be a source of annoyance.
InteriorIn terms of space, the Prius V is noteworthy for its ability to accommodate both passengers and cargo. You'd have to switch to a small SUV to match this kind of volume. Unfortunately this quantity isn't matched by quality, as the interior looks and feels a bit downmarket.
Centrally located gauges are cluttered in their layout and take some getting used to. The small infotainment screen is prone to glare, making it even harder to read. Voice activation is accurate and preferred to manual control.
Tall door openings make accessing all seats easy. Even taller passengers should have no problem. The doors are fairly sort in length, too, which is a benefit in tight parking spots.
Despite the seat comfort issues, there is a welath of legroom and headroom, even for taller occupants. Rear seats slide and recline and overall, the cabin feels open and spacious.
All-around visibility is praiseworthy. The driver has a very good reference of where the car's boundaries are, even when backing into a spot. A rearview camera is standard on the Three and Five trim levels, but rarely relied upon.
As compact as the Prius V is, it can accommodate a surprising amount of cargo. Up to 34.3 cu-ft can fit behind the rear seats and 67.3 cu-ft with them folded. Interior storage is also ample, with numerous bins and pockets.
ValueThe base Prius V in Two trim starts at $27,560. Our test vehicle in range-topping Five trim and the $5,650 Advanced Technology package came to $37,080. Most of these upgrades and features are as either uncecessary or novelties. Opting for supporting trims wouldn't be a step down.
Build Quality (vs. $)
With an abundance of hard plastics inside and thin padding and electronic interfaces that already seem outdated, the Prius V falls short of marks set by its rival Ford C-Max Hybrid and Volkswagen Jetta Sportwagen TDI.
As we're not impressed with the features that come with the top-of-the-line Five trim (SofTex seats) or the Advanced package (self-parking, premium audio, adaptive cruise control), the supporting Two or Three trims are smarter buys.
The Prius V is priced comparably to the competing Ford C-Max Hybrid and Volkswagen Jetta Sportwagen TDI. Both offer more refinement and driver engagement, but the Ford holds less cargo and the VW is less fuel efficient.
EPA estimates of 42 mpg Combined (44 City/40 Highway) were confirmed by our overall figure of 39.4 mpg. On our highway-heavy evaluation loop, we easily exceeded estimates with an impressive 50.4 mpg result.
The Prius V's 3-year/36,000-mile basic warranty and 5-yr/60,000-mi powertrain coverage are comparable to competitors. The hybrid powertrain is further backed by an 8-yr/100,000-mi warranty.
Toyota's 2-yr/25,000-mi roadside assistance comes up short compared to rivals, but 2 yrs of free scheduled maintenance is not that common.
Fun To DriveThe Prius V's main intention is to achieve excellent fuel economy with a spacious interior. In that regard it succeeds. Entertainment behind the wheel is not a priority, and shoppers in this segment should have lowered expectations when it comes to fun.
Easy-to-drive is an appropriate description of how the Prius V behaves. The controls are effortless and nearly everything about it is plaeasantly calm and quiet. Just know that you're probably not going to out-accelerate anything on the road, but will be rewarded at the pump.
Despite the V's larger dimensions inside and out, it would never be mistaken for anything but a Prius. It's not fast, but it's definitely efficient. You'll be laughing all the way past the gas stations.