New Car Review: 2013 Toyota Prius V

Front 3/4 view of the 2013 Toyota Prius V

The expansion of the Prius line seems to be paying off.  A decent number of the baby Prius C models are on the road, and if you look, you'll see quite a few of the Prius V as well.  V in this case is not a Roman numeral, it is a letter...and it stands for "versatile".

Tailgate open and seats folded on 2013 Toyota Prius V

The V is really a Prius station wagon, if manufacturers could bring themselves to use that term.  there's room in back for a decent amount of groceries or luggage, and folding one or both of the rear seats (and/or the front passenger seat) gets you a bit more room for stuff rather than people.

There are three models of V...the Two, the Three and the Five.  A Two can be had for the very reasonable base price of $26,650.  The Three, which adds display audio with navigation and Toyota's Entune wireless app suite, Eco and Power modes, is a bargain at $27,415, and the Five, which brings LED headlamps with automatic on/off, Sof-Tex trimmed seats, and 17-inch alloy wheels, is $30,295.  That's the one Toyota sent us for a week, and they went easy on the options, adding only three very practical ones: mudguards ($155), a rear bumper applique' ($69) and carpeted floormats and a cargo mat ($225).  Bottom line with $795 destination, $31,539.

The good news about the Five is that, like the Three, it has the Eco/Power switch.  You'll end up using it.  The Prius V is...slow.  As in 0-60 in about 10.2 seconds.  And that's in Power mode.  Eco makes it more like 10.7.  Not really all that much, but it feels like a bit more punch so, when you're not obsessed about mileage, you'll end up using it.  

Side view of 2013 Toyota Prius V

About that mileage.  The EPA says 44 city, 40 highway, 42 combined.  In 600 miles of an even split of city streets and urban but not stop-and-go freeway driving, we only barely cracked 37. I don't know exactly what got us from 35 to 37.2 in the final day, but it did.  Maybe I gave up on the "Power" setting.  I don't know.  A lot of cars aren't making their EPA estimates at TireKicker World Headquarters of late, and that's odd because we don't drive them hard.  

Beyond that, it's a Prius.  The downsides are near-zero driving fun and a dull cabin apart from the power monitor and infotainment displays.  The upsides are the mileage (even 37 around town isn't bad...though it's well off the 50 we got from the standard Prius) and Toyota's reliability.   With competition finally on the road in the form of Ford's C-Max and this generation of Prius nearing the end of its life-cycle, we can hope Toyota's got something more involving for the next round.