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Heels On Wheels: 2012 Toyota Prius V Review +VIDEO

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2012 Toyota Prius v

SEE ALSO: Toyota Specs, Comparisons and Prices - Toyota Buyers Guide 1997-2012

By Katrina Ramser
San Francisco Bureau
The Auto Channel

The Prius v – which represents “versatility” – is true to its name as the iconic shape takes an extended body and configurable second row for the sake of more cargo space. Equating to over 50 percent more interior room than the original Prius, the Prius v is a now a contender in the compact crossover market.

I drove a 5-passenger 2012 Toyota Prius v hatchback with a 1.8-liter DOHC VVT-I four-cylinder engine and Toyota’s Hybrid Synergy Drive system that features four driving modes (Normal, Power, Eco and EV). The Prius v comes in three unique trims labeled simply as Two, Three and Five. My mid-level Prius v Three came with the following standard equipment: a touch-screen multimedia system for navigation, backup camera and Toyota’s Entune; an upgraded JBL audio system; Bluetooth technology; and a UBS and auxiliary input jack. Price came to $27,165.

Those that love this hybrid DNA, but are looking for space versatility, will be quite happy with the Prius v. The vehicle is built on the same platform and Hybrid Synergy Drive technology as the third-generation Prius, but fuel economy estimates differ as the Prius v gets a combined 40 miles-per-gallon where the current Prius gets 50.

Watch the Toyota Prius V on-road promo video


Stylish But Comfortable Results: Entune is a wireless information service that works with your smart phone, debuting the first-ever support for mobile apps like Bing, OpenTable, and It also brings the largest selection of music options available to a vehicle with Pandora, iheartradio and XM radio. The seating configuration is the heart of the v. A sliding second row extends farther for rear-storage flexibility. These rear seats also present four different seat arrangements. And the fold-flat front-passenger seat is perfect extremely long cargo. Exterior-wise, there isn’t much of a difference between the Prius v Two and Three, but the Five does add fog lights, larger 17-inch wheels, and has the option for a panoramic moonroof. Although the focus is on loading and stowing conveniences, a power liftgate is not available for any model.

Reliability & Safety Factor: The 2012 Prius v is a Top Safety Pick with The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS). The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) has not yet tested the Prius v. Toyota’s Star Safety System is standard and includes VSC, anti-lock brakes, EBD, traction control and an advanced airbag system. You need to pay extra for Safety Connect (emergency roadside assistance), the pre-collision system and the Advanced Parking Guidance System (APGS).

Cost Issues: The IIHS categorizes the Prius v as a “midsize moderately priced car.” A Two (or base) is $26,400. A full-loaded Five can run you close to $35k with all the technology upgrades, moonroof and safety equipment. Another vehicle with similar dimensions and styling cues is the Mazda5, which actually has three rows, seats six, and is about $8-10k cheaper than my test model, the Prius v Three.

Activity & Performance Ability: I found the ride inside the Prius v to be extremely comfortable and agreeable. I experienced a noticeable difference when switching driving (throttle control) modes from Eco to Power. Drivers can hit speeds up to 25 miles-per-hour in EV mode (electric only) before the hybrid engine kicks in. Rear visibility is excellent with the new design, and drivers used to the current Prius design will not feel they have traded the old model for a compact SUV.

The Green Concern: With the same cargo configurations as many compact crossovers, at 40 miles-per-gallon combined, the Prius v leads the pack in green traveling for a crowd using front-wheel drive.

Likes its name, the elongated 2012 Prius v is extremely versatile as it now straddles the compact crossover, hybrid and hatchback market. Fuel economy is still stellar at 40 miles-per-gallon with great cargo space and a flexible second row as the main attractions.

2012 Katrina Ramser