The Prius V

On November 11, 2011 by admin

Maybe a week or so ago, we pull up to a long line of traffic at a red light. I always notice the sheen of new-car paint, and my eyes caught a glint, so I turned to my right and there it was–the new Prius V.

Personally, I’m generally anti-Prius, in that I hate how they look, the ‘image’ they are only too happy to project, and the fact that the public seem to embrace the Prius shape as the only shape a truly ‘green’ car can be. Additionally, I’m not sold on gas-electric hybrids (except for the Volt). Lugging around a huge battery pack just doesn’t make sense if the goal is efficiency (except where you design the car to operate primarily in electric-only mode, with gas power as a range-extending backup).

However, the Prius V gives me pause. It’s actually large enough for people with real dogs–ours is a 70-lb Labrador–and while it’s still running the old Hybrid Synergy Drive, manages to rate 44mpg city/40 highway. Thus, it compares nicely with the VW Jetta Sportwagen TDI (30 city/42 hwy, similar interior volume) which I was seriously considering as a replacement for our current family vehicle. The buying decision comes down to four questions: 1) Japanese or German, 2) highway or city commute, 3) do you want a clutch pedal (because the TDI offers one and the V does not), 4) do you live near a filling station that sells diesel at a competitive price?

As for me, check the blog name–I bow before all the mighty Volkswagen Auto Group has seen fit to bestow upon us. And I like clutch pedals, especially when the only other choice is a CVT. So the other two questions are probably moot, in my case.

But still, the V has been getting positive press. Motor Trend said “the V’s driving experience was better than that of any previous Prius” and discusses the trick system that makes it all possible–Pitch and Bounce Control, which uses the torque of the electric motor to alter load transfer during cornering. I’d love to know how they did that, but even if I don’t, that’s a great idea. Kudos to Toyota there.

So, America, climb down from your stupid high-CG, high-drag SUVs and get into one of these babies. Or, you know what, don’t. Just get a CTS-V wagon to tote the kids and dog. Those are so awesome that that’ll have to be a whole another post.

2 Responses to “The Prius V”

  • Matt Mellott

    You're sold on the volt? Didn't one of them spontaneously combust recently in a crash test? I can think of a more effective use of $35k if I'm looking to save money on gas…

  • Will

    I'm sold on the Volt as a demonstration on how to use electric power as a substitute for petroleum power without sacrificing the ability to travel long distances with just the usual, standard gas stops. As for the 'spontaneous combustion,' that's a way-overblown story, probably perpetuated by the Fox Newsies, since to them, Volt=Obama. Here's what actually happened:

    http://jalopnik.com/5858730/are-electric-cars-safe

    Now, the Volt as a straight-up value proposition? Even with Uncle Sam's $7500 rebate off the sticker price, it doesn't really add up:

    http://www.caranddriver.com/comparisons/2011-chevrolet-volt-vs-chevrolet-cruze-eco-comparison-tests

    A good, light, simple economy sedan is a better choice for most people. But car geeks (such as myself) are enthralled with the Volt, and it will only get better and more acceptable to the masses as the battery tech gets smaller, lighter, and cheaper.

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