New Car Review
2017 Toyota Prius v: New Car Review
If you think of the 2017 Toyota Prius v as a standard Prius that's been stretched out, you wouldn't be too far off. To create the 5-door hatchback, Toyota simply took what was already appealing about the previous-generation regular Prius -- excellent fuel economy, a comfortable ride, reasonable pricing -- and elongated the car, turning it into a roomier, taller package that's even more family-friendly than the normal model.
Ultimately, the v's main selling point is its cargo space. Sure, the regular Prius is surprisingly spacious and versatile, but the v outdoes it by quite a considerable margin. Not only is the back seat roomier, but its seatback slides and reclines. The more squared-off roofline, which ultimately harms aerodynamics and thus fuel economy, greatly increases cargo versatility.
That is quite literally a big selling point for the Prius v, however, in virtually every other way it is outdone by the regular Prius that was completely redesigned last year. The Prius v soldiers on unchanged. So whether you're talking about interior quality or fuel economy (41 miles per gallon combined versus 52), the regular Prius is the stronger overall product.
What's New for 2017?
The regular Prius might've been completely redesigned last year, but the Prius v is once again unchanged.
What We Like
Great fuel economy for such a spacious vehicle; huge interior space
What We Don't
Worse fuel economy, interior quality, acceleration and driving experience than a normal Prius; it's more expensive too; awkward seating position for some
The front-wheel-drive Prius v features roughly the same drivetrain as the regular Prius: a 1.8-liter hybrid 4-cylinder. Total output is 134 horsepower -- this in a vehicle that weighs as much (almost 3,300 pounds) as a loaded Camry. The regular Prius might be slow, but the v is glacial.
Fuel economy is also considerably worse than the regular Prius at 43 mpg in the city, 39 mpg on the highway and 41 mpg combined. The regular Prius gets 52 mpg combined, which on average, would save you about $200 per year on fuel.
Standard Features & Options
The 2017 Toyota Prius v 5-passenger wagon comes in four trim levels, named simply Two, Three, Four and Five. Nope, there isn't a One.
The entry-level Two ($26,700) delivers strong value with 16-in alloy wheels, a backup camera, automatic climate control, keyless entry with push-button starting and a height-adjustable driver seat with power lumbar support, a 6.1-in touchscreen interface, Bluetooth and a 6-speaker sound system with a USB port and an auxiliary audio jack.
The Three ($28,100) adds a navigation system, Toyota's smartphone-based Entune mobile app interface, a multicolor information display, power driver lumbar adjustment, a fold-down rear armrest, satellite radio and HD radio. A panoramic sunroof can be added as an option.
The Four ($29,700) features "SofTex" faux-leather upholstery, heated front seats, an auto-dimming rearview mirror and an 8-way power driver's seat.
The upscale Five ($30,900) adds LED headlights, fog lamps and 17-in alloy wheels. The Five's Advance Technology package adds the panoramic sunroof, adaptive cruise control, automatic high-beam control, lane-departure warning, a forward collision warning and automatic braking system and a JBL premium sound system.
The Prius v comes with standard stability control, a backup camera, seven airbags (including a driver's-knee airbag) and anti-lock brakes. Optional on the Prius v Five is the Advanced Technology package, which adds a lane-departure warning system and a forward-collision warning and automatic braking system. This feature content is standard on the every regular Prius.
The Prius v earned a Top Safety Pick+ award from the nonprofit Insurance Institute for Highway Safety. It achieved the best possible rankings in all pertinent crash, forward crash prevention and even headlight categories.
Behind the Wheel
The Prius v hasn't received the same updates as the regular Prius did last year, so it's therefore less responsive to drive and doesn't tackle bumps with the same degree of refinement. At least the Prius v's extra size and weight continue to make it feel more substantial than its smaller sibling, especially at highway speeds. There's also no getting around the power shortage, which is apparent any time you accelerate. Loading it up with people and luggage makes merging or passing on highways a bit of an adventure.
Inside also isn't blessed with the same improved materials and updated design as the regular Prius. This is somewhat mitigated by the fact that the Prius v previously had a nicer cabin, but a deficit nevertheless remains. We do at least appreciate its electronics and climate controls, which are pleasantly easy to reach and use. The centrally located electronic gauges are another story, but Toyota has stuck with them this long, so apparently people don't hate them.
The back seat in the regular Prius is already quite accommodating, but the Prius v does it one better with sliding/reclining rear-seat functionality and a significantly higher rear cushion, allowing long-legged passengers to ride with full under-thigh support. It's a much nicer place to spend time.
Cargo space measures up to twice the regular Prius model's trunk size. That places the Prius v in crossover-SUV territory -- and Toyota does a great job of integrating the Prius v's battery pack seamlessly beneath the floor.
Other Cars to Consider
2017 Toyota Prius -- Apart from its more spacious back seat and cargo area, the redesigned regular Prius outdoes the v in every other way. How much is that extra space worth to you?
2017 Kia Niro-- The new Niro is a compact SUV-like hybrid. It doesn't have the same cargo space as the Prius v, but its more conventional looks, superior fuel economy and lower price should definitely be appealing.
2017 Ford C-Max Hybrid -- The C-Max Hybrid can't quite match the Prius v's fuel economy or cargo capacity, but it boasts a superior driving experience, better acceleration, a higher quality cabin and an available plug-in hybrid model called the Energi.
Used Toyota Highlander Hybrid -- Although it doesn't offer the fuel economy of the Prius v, Toyota's midsize Highlander Hybrid boasts good gas mileage numbers, a high seating position and third-row seating. New ones are pricey, but a used one should do.
Strongly consider getting a regular Prius, or even the Prius Prime plug-in hybrid instead. But, if you really need the extra space, the Three trim level seems to be the sweet spot. Get the Four if getting 8-way power seats are important to you (and it could be given the Prius v's potentially awkward driving position), but it's quite pricey given the other accompanying options.