First Drive: 2012 Toyota Prius V

You know what the Toyota Prius is and all that it stands for. The third generation of the iconic hybrid vehicle debuted two years ago. Now we’ve driven the Prius v, which Toyota unveiled at last January’s 2011 Detroit auto show. It’s the first time that Toyota has affixed the Prius badge to a vehicle that’s bigger than the current-generation hatchback and its predecessor, the car that made the Prius name a household word.

As you might or might not have guessed, the use of the twenty-second letter of the alphabet as part of the new, bigger Prius’s badge is to emphasize its increased versatility, as compared with the standard hatchback model. Toyota lowercases and italicizes the v in an attempt to get people to pronounce the car’s name as “Prius vee” rather than “Prius five.” Um, good luck with that, Toyota; we suspect that you’ll have a 50:50 success rate. Many people are going to read the v as a Roman numeral.

Adding to the nomenclatural confusion, Toyota has designated three equipment levels for the Prius, and they’re known numerically, like the regular Prius models are. So we have the Toyota Prius v Two (base model); the Toyota Prius v Three (the midline model); and the Toyota Prius v Five (the top-of-the-line model). Perhaps Toyota Motor Sales, U.S.A., should have followed Toyota Europe’s lead and named our car the Prius+.

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With 44 city; 40 highway; 42 combined rating, I will prefer my Jetta Sportswagon TDI any day over the Prius V.... AT 39 city and 50 highway my 2010 Sportwagon is a drivers car.... And when the Prius batteries are just about dead at 150,000 miles, meaning $8000 for new batteries, the TDI engine has just about gotten to its half life....
Well, Toyota seems to be doing exactly what it ought to do to come out of its recent troubles. It's building on its strengths. Every generation of the Prius has gotten better to drive, here's hoping that they continue that trend.That being said, it is surprising that 232 pounds and a few ticks of aerodynamic coefficient should have such a huge effect on the MPG. Nearly ten miles per gallon worse? Geeuh. When the Scion Xb got the bloat, it was 600 pounds heavier and a lot more powerful, but the MPG stayed surprisingly close.

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