The Toyota Prius has proven itself to be the preeminent gas/electric hybrid of the auto industry. If you doubt that, try counting how many of them you see on the road today. They are everywhere.

If you want most of the benefits of the regular Prius while adding more room and versatility, the 2013 Toyota Prius v is worth considering. The larger dimensions of the v take the Prius from hatchback into wagon category, but the exterior styling remains Prius all the way. And so do the unusual trim names: Two, Three and Five.

Larger Within

The big story for the Prius v is how expansive the interior is. Both front and rear seats offer living-room-size comfort. Essentially, the v is more crossover-SUV-like with a higher seating position than the conventional Prius.

And the sliding/reclining rear seat helps create even more extra space. Cargo room approaches SUV levels, too, especially with the rear seat folded down.

Up-front, the dashboard is a winner, as it is better laid out than the standard Prius and more upscale-looking. Furthermore, all trims give you iPod, USB and Bluetooth connectivity.

We highly recommend opting for Toyota's Entune infotainment system. It's one of our favorites because it easily connects with your smartphone and gives you access to a series of useful apps. It uses a large, high-res touchscreen, too.

There's really nothing bad to say about the interior of the Prius v.

Hybrid Drive

The hybrid system in the Prius v consists of a 98 horsepower 1.8-liter 4-cylinder engine combined with an 80-hp electric motor and a nickel-metal-hydride battery. It's basically the same as the regular Prius -- a net 134 hp going to the front wheels by way of a continuously variable transmission.

But that's where the extra size in the Prius v becomes an issue, as acceleration and fuel economy take a hit. Not that other Prius models are more powerful, but at 3,300 pounds, the Prius v has more weight to haul around.

This means fuel economy drops from around 50 miles per gallon in the Prius to somewhere in the low 40s in the Prius v. More specifically, government fuel economy ratings for the v are 44 mpg city/40 mpg hwy. That's still very good, but if you don't need the extra space, the standard Prius may be a better fit.

Cost and Competition

The base-level Prius v carries an MSRP of $26,650. Other cars to consider include the Ford C-MAX Hybrid and the standard Prius. Or take a look at the Toyota Highlander Hybrid, at nearly the same price, if it's more seating and space you want.

Wrap-Up

The extra space in the 2013 Toyota Prius v is a big benefit for families, home handymen or anyone who likes to stretch out in their ride. It will take you longer to speed up and require a little more gasoline, but the Prius v will deliver an economical trip with enough technology to keep everyone entertained and engaged.

Find a Prius V for sale

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Jessica Shea Choksey is an automotive journalist and former writer/reporter for the PBS/Discovery Channel television series "MotorWeek." She began her career in journalism as an editor for numerous magazines and publications mainly outside of the automotive field. Jessica currently resides with her family, in Southern California.

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