2012 Toyota Prius V by adiwidjojo


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									                           2012 Toyota Prius V

The hybrid lexicon is a language built on a foundation of disjunction.
Buyers may have phenomenal fuel economy or space for kids and cargo. You
can embarrass your neighbors at the fuel pump or have a satisfying
driving experience. In fact, opting for a battery pack is so fraught with
compromise that it's almost as if hybrid manufacturers have completely
deleted the conjunctive 'and' from their diction. Even so, that fact
hasn't stopped buyers from seeking out electrified vehicles in increasing
Toyota has sold over one million Prius models in the United States since
the vehicle first debuted a decade ago. That number blossoms to two
million if global sales are accounted for, and the model's popularity has
helped usher in a bloom of hybrid products from over 16 manufacturers.
The technology may not be the perfect solution to our fuel economy
concerns, but the Prius has taken off in ways that would have been
difficult to imagine when the first gangly example whirred off the line.
Now Toyota is set to grow its Prius lineup with three new models. In
fact, Bob Carter, Toyota division group vice president and general
manager, says that the Japanese automaker fully expects the Prius family
to become its best-selling product line in the near future – beating out
internal combustion titans like the Camry and Corolla in the process. As
a result, the company is planning to unleash of a barrage of products
that include a model based on the Prius C Concept, a plug-in version of
the hybrid and the taller, boxier Prius V. The thought is that a few
simple variations on the company's successful battery-powered recipe will
offer buyers solutions that the conventional Prius simply couldn't match.
The only question is whether or not the will respond to what is
effectively a few clever re-body jobs. If the Prius V is any indication,
the answer is a resounding yes.

Thanks to years of steady sales, legions of faithful buyers and an
overwhelming popularity with the celebrity set, the Prius has established
itself as an icon of automotive design. Unsurprisingly, Toyota says that
the Prius has the highest brand awareness of any hybrid on the road right
now, and when it came time to design the Prius V, the company's artists
wanted to ensure that the newcomer was instantly recognizable as a member
of the Prius dynasty. For aerodynamic reasons, that meant maintaining the
wedge-like shape of the liftback, though with a slightly taller roof for
greater functionality.
Up front, the vehicle wears both stylized head lamps and a rounded front
fascia that's remarkably similar to the 2011 Prius, though it's worth
noting that the front fenders and hood are completely new sheetmetal. In
fact, the headlight housings themselves have been slightly altered to
incorporate a new ridge that reduces wind turbulence around the side view
mirrors. Toyota says that the small change has a huge impact on interior
From the side, it's nearly impossible to escape the wagon-like presence
of the Prius V. With its long roof, similarly lengthy rear doors and an
extended cargo area, the vehicle ditches the awkward hatchback aesthetics
of the current Prius for a twang of normalcy. We couldn't help but grow a
little fond of the vehicle's shape after a day behind the wheel. It's
almost as if Toyota has flanked us by using our love for wagons to lure
us into the hybrid craze.

We spent time in the top-o-the-line Prius V Five trim level, complete
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                           2012 Toyota Prius V
with larger 17-inch wheels. The multi-spoke rollers aren't the most
stylish stock on the planet, but from where we sit, they're far more
attractive than the chunky designs of the Honda Insight and Civic

From the rear, the Prius V offers up a fairly sizable hatch that
terminates in a unique rear spoiler. As you might have guessed, the piece
actually serves to benefit the Prius V aerodynamically. Speaking of
slipping through the air, Toyota's designers and engineers have worked to
decrease the vehicle's coefficient of drag as much as possible to
increase fuel efficiency. As such, touches like protrusions from the
front and rear bumper, specially-designed side skirts and extensive
underbody cladding help the Prius V return its .29 coefficient of drag.
Toyota has also worked to keep weight as slim as possible on the Prius V,
and those efforts have translated into unique material selections
indoors. The Prius V will be available in a trio of trims labeled Two,
Three and Five, with the top two tiers receiving a new faux leather
surface that's lighter than real cowhide. In addition, a dual-pane resin
panoramic roof is available on Five-trimmed models. The material is 40
percent lighter than standard laminated glass and also helps reduce solar
gain to keep the interior cool on sunny days. Finally, Toyota has
partnered with JBL to create a sound system that not only weighs 37
percent less than the old gear, but also sucks down 80 percent less
power, too.
Even so, the Prius V weighs in at 232 pounds more than its standard
sibling, though the penalty is worth it when it comes to usable interior
room. Toyota built the hybrid wagon with a set of manually-controlled
multi-function back seats that can slide fore and aft, recline and fold
semi-flat for a heap of versatility. As a result, there's up to 35.9
inches of legroom out back, which is 1.4 inches more than the Honda CR-V
can offer. With the thrones up, there's a full 34.3 cubic-feet of cargo
room, and that number swells to 67.3 cubes with the back seats folded. As
Toyota points out, that's more room than crossovers like the Chevrolet
Equinox, Honda Element, Ford Escape or the Nissan Rogue can offer.
With large rear doors and a high hip point, back passengers are treated
to a vehicle that's a cinch to slip into. We were perfectly content to
spend a little time being chauffeured around the greater San Francisco
area in the hybrid. But while the back seats are the big news for the
Prius V, the front buckets offer a few surprises as well. The designers
at Toyota have implemented concave door panels to provide more knee room
and to help suggest a more open, airy cabin. Further, the Prius V wears
upper dash panels that are so soft they're very nearly plush, and the
same material is found at elbow level on the front door panels as well.
While there's plenty of easily scratched, easily sullied hard plastic
around, the Prius V delivers an interior that's suitably attractive and
comfortable given the segment.

The Prius V also bows with Entune – a new smartphone-based application
system. Check out our Short Cut video below to see what it's all about.

Unfortunately, the driver is met with a version of the same confounding
center-up gauge cluster found in the base Prius. We have a general
aversion to center-mounted gauges for a variety of reasons, the most
pressing of which is that they require the driver to look down and away
from the road. Passengers don't need to know how fast the vehicle is
traveling; the driver does.
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                           2012 Toyota Prius V
The engineers behind the Prius V essentially stretched the Prius floorpan
to give the new model an extra three inches of wheelbase and six inches
of overall length. Combined with its taller roof, additional glass and
large rear hatch, the newcomer weighs in at 3,274 pounds. Toyota has
opted to skip throwing extra horsepower at all that heft. Instead, the
company's engineers simply changed the vehicle's axle ratio from 3.268:1
to 3.704:1. As a result, the Prius V feels just as adequate on the road
as the third-generation Prius.
Under the hood, the same 2ZR-FXE 1.8-liter Atkinson-cycle four-cylinder
engine found in the base Prius supplies power in conjunction with a pair
of liquid-cooled motor generators. Engineers designed the transaxle case
in the Prius V with integrated water jackets for the first time to keep
the motors at a steady temperature, thereby increasing longevity and
performance at the same time. Combined output sits at 134 horsepower at
5,200 rpm and 105 pound-feet of torque at 4,000 rpm. Toyota has also
redesigned the vehicle's exhaust heat recirculation system to decrease
the drivetrain's warm-up period, and as a result, the Prius V can reach
optimum operating temperature up to a minute sooner than vehicles
equipped with the old system.
Automakers are flocking to lithium-ion batteries in increasing numbers at
the moment, but Toyota says it saw no need to pursue the added cost of
the technology for the Prius V. Instead, the hybrid wagon uses a modified
version of the same nickel-metal hydride battery pack found in the
third-gen Prius. Total output has been boosted slightly to 650 volts, and
the more compact battery configuration keeps from impeding interior room.
Additionally, the battery pack's cooling duct now draws ambient air from
a hidden location under the second-row seats.
All told, this tech is good for an Environmental Protection Agency-rated
44 mpg city and 40 mpg highway. That works out to around 42 mpg combined,
though we saw 38.6 mpg in aggressive mixed driving. Given that the
average fuel economy was ticking up even as we whirred into the parking
lot, we wouldn't be surprised to see the Prius V hit or exceed its EPA
We fully expected to be met with a more lethargic, turgid version of the
Prius when it came time to take the wheel. After all, shoving a taller
roofline and over 200 pounds into the Japanese hybrid was bound to have
ill effects, but judging by our time with the vehicle, that simply isn't
the case. The new gear ratio means that acceleration is perfectly
acceptable for matching wits with traffic either in town or on the
highway with 0-60 mph sprints taking an estimated 10.4 seconds. A total
of four drive modes are accessible via buttons mounted on the center
console, including EV, Eco, Power and Normal models. We found no lack of
power in Normal configuration, even when it came to tackling the
formidable hills near California's Half Moon Bay.

Fat-finger the Eco mode, however, and you're rewarded with an altogether
more infuriating driving experience. The ECU hacks away at power like
Indiana Jones with a well-oiled machete. Ironically, if you have a
penchant for keeping up with the vehicles around you, you'll need to bury
the accelerator, thereby activating Power mode and defeating the purpose
of limping along in Eco to begin with. Do yourself a favor and leave the
vehicle in Normal mode.
As with the rest of the Prius clan, the electronic power steering is
lighter and less communicative than we'd like and the vehicle's
regenerative brakes make for grabby stops. Still, the average Prius V
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                           2012 Toyota Prius V
buyer could probably care less about turn-in feel. Even so, with a
MacPherson strut design up front and a torsion-beam rear, the tall wagon
isn't a disappointing drive. In fact, we could entirely see ourselves
living with this vehicle on a daily basis, especially if we had a brood
to lug around at the same time. Despite its curb weight and low power
figures, the Prius V feels fairly light on its feet. Body roll is
apparent but unobtrusive and brake dive is kept in check as well.
Hybrids aren't typically happiest on the highway, but Toyota has taken
steps to ensure that the Prius V is more livable over long distances. The
new model is the first to incorporate Pitch and Bounce Control, which can
sense the oscillating frequency of road surfaces and minutely induce and
withdraw torque from the electric motor to counteract a vehicle's
wave-like motion. The result is a very stable-feeling drive, especially
over aged sections of concrete interstate and expansion joints.
Toyota won't release final pricing information on the Prius V until
closer to the model's fall launch date. As a result, it's difficult to
give this wagon a confident endorsement. The company says that its newest
hybrid is positioned to draw buyers who are currently looking toward
small SUVs, crossovers and wagons, and they're dead right. The Prius V
has all of the functionality of those vehicles with the fuel economy and
panache that only the Prius name can offer.

If we were going to lay down a yet-to-be-determined chunk of change for a
Prius, the V would certainly be the model to take home. Its small fuel
economy sacrifices are more than made up for by increased versatility and
backseat comfort. We even think the taller roof line makes the model more
becoming. For the first time, the Prius name stands for fuel economy and

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