The Prius has certainly made a name for itself in the nearly 15 years it’s been around. Toyota has sold tons of them all across the globe. As the market started wanting more, Toyota came out with this: the Prius V, which according to Toyota, stands for “versatility.” That truly is the case, seeing as the Prius V has a large SUV-like rear cargo area with seats that fold flat. Starting in 2012, the big-boy Prius made a solid case against the need for large, gas-guzzling SUVs – at least with respect to interior volume. The cavernous interior actually boasts 67.3 cubic feet of cargo room with the second-row seats folded down. That’s four cubic feet more than a Chevrolet Equinox.

Besides the ability to haul five adults and their junk around, the Prius V does it while getting some respectable mpg numbers. The EPA rates the wagon at 44/40/42 mpg on its city, highway, and combined test loop. Add to that its 1.8-liter four-cylinder runs on regular gasoline, and you’ve got a money-saving, junk-hauling, passenger-pleasing green machine.

But how well does it execute its mission? I spent a week with a 2014 model to find out. My driving was mixed between city and highway roads, along with both gentle and aggressive driving styles. I did everything from hauling my two-year-old in a car seat to hauling a large bookcase for friends. Keep reading for the outcome.

Click past the jump for the full review

  • 2014 Toyota Prius V - Driven
  • Year:
    2014
  • Make:
  • Model:
  • Engine:
    inline-4
  • Transmission:
    CVT
  • Horsepower @ RPM:
    134 @ 5200
  • MPG(Cty):
    44
  • MPG(Hwy):
    40
  • Torque @ RPM:
    105 @ 4000
  • Displacement:
    1.8 L
  • 0-60 time:
    10.5 sec.
  • Top Speed:
    110 mph (Est.)
  • Layout:
    front engine, FWD
  • Price:
  • car segment:
  • body style:

TopSpeed Garage


Exterior

2014 Toyota Prius V - Driven High Resolution Exterior
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2014 Toyota Prius V - Driven High Resolution Exterior
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2014 Toyota Prius V - Driven High Resolution Exterior
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The Prius V represents an interesting approach to design aesthetics. It is unmistakably Prius, yet still has a different feel to it – almost an MPV feel with its tall roof and low ride height. The front borrows much of its looks from the standard Prius, while the side profile and rear views are unique. The rear passenger doors are quite large and open wide, allowing for easy access to the second row.

It almost an MPV-style vehicle feel to it

Outward visibility is excellent, thanks to its tall greenhouse. The windows eliminate nearly all blind spots, leaving what little is left to Toyota’s flawless Blind Spot Monitoring system. Even the rear window offers a great view backwards, and the rear wiper cleans a generous patch of glass during wet weather.

My tester came dressed in black with handsome 17-inch allow wheels. The 10-spoke design and bright finish looks great on the car, especially when accented by the clear-lens taillights and matching headlights.

Interior

2014 Toyota Prius V - Driven Interior
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2014 Toyota Prius V - Driven Interior
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2014 Toyota Prius V - Driven High Resolution Interior
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Besides the hybrid powertrain, the interior is the Prius V’s biggest selling point. Up front, a few of the standard Prius’ design attributes carry through, though the dashboard is not an exact copy. The center stack is the main focus, with nearly all the main controls grouped here. The familiar electronic gear shifter returns, as do the push-button park and ignition buttons. The main gauge cluster rides in the center of the dash, showing only critical mechanical information along with the energy flow map of the hybrid powertrain.

Besides the hybrid powertrain, the interior is the Prius V’s biggest selling point

A single main cup holder resides in the center console, with a second one sliding out down below. The front passenger gets a pop-out cup holder on the dash near the door. The HVAC controls are centralized down low on the center stack, with the main inputs handled with a joystick-style controller. The large knob clicks left and right for selecting HVAC mode, temperature, and fan speed. It then turns for adjustment.

Toyota’s Entune infotainment system is the focal point of the dash. It works well and is easy to learn, however it’s starting to look dated. An annoyance I first had with the system is the location of its navigation button. It’s a soft key buried down within the “Apps” hard-key menu. You’d think navigation would get its own hard key.

Moving rearward, the Prius V offers acres of room for rear-seat passengers. The seats recline for more comfort and the center seat hides an armrest. Legroom is fantastic. Fold the seatbacks down and remove the spring-loaded cargo shade, and you’ve got 67.3 cubic feet of cargo room. The second-row seatbacks have a protective plastic backing to prevent rips and punctures.

Overall, the Prius V’s interior proved itself to be a viable alternative to a crossover.

Powertrain

2014 Toyota Prius V - Driven Drivetrain
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Of course, this wouldn’t be a Prius review if I didn’t talk about the hybrid system. Under the hood is a 1.8-liter, Atkinson-cycle four-cylinder with dual overhead cams with variable valve timing. The engine only produces 80 horsepower at full tilt, but is supplemented by an electric motor pumping out another 54 horsepower. The total system output is rated at 134 horses and 105 pound-feet of torque.

The CVT generally avoids that rubberbanding effect characterized by some CVTs

The engine and electric motor work in conjunction to keep fuel mileage high. When it’s not needed, the gas engine simply turns off, allowing the car to run fully on electric power. When more grunt is needed, the engine simply kicks on and provides the juice. A CVT delivers power to the front wheels. It generally avoids that rubberbanding effect characterized by some CVTs, doing a decent job at propelling the car. It does, however, make the four-banger whine at the same droning pitch while under moderate to aggressive acceleration.

Treat it right and the EPA says the Prius V will get 44 mpg city, 40 mpg highway, and 42 mpg combined. Those aren’t bad numbers. My average over the entire week sat around 41 mpg.

Driving Impressions

2014 Toyota Prius V - Driven Interior
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The Prius V was a surprisingly fun car to drive for what it is. The V seems a bit more buttoned-down than the standard Prius I drove a few months back, not exhibiting the same amount of body roll as before. It’s by no means a weekend track star or back-road burner, but it can handle its own around cloverleaf interstate on-ramps.

"It's more fun to drive a slow car fast than a fast car slow"

Much of the Prius V’s character can be described in the old adage, “It’s more fun to drive a slow car fast than a fast car slow.” Winding the 1.8-liter out with your foot to the floor happens more times than anticipated, and is a joy to do – all because it means you’re just keeping up with traffic. The steering is light and mostly numb, but does become more tactile when it’s loaded up in a corner. The brakes work well under both light and heavy applications.

The overall driving experience is smooth, with the gas engine coming online without much to-do. The auto restart at red lights makes the engine somewhat noticeable, but the average Prius driver should quickly grow accustomed to it.

Price

2014 Toyota Prius V - Driven Emblems and Logo Exterior
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My tester came packaged as the upscale “Five Model,” giving it such niceties as leather seats and navigation. The base price is listed at $30,395, and with only option being the $343 Preferred Accessory Package, which includes carpeted floor mats and the rear bumper applique, the price doesn’t rocket too high. Add the $760 destination charge and the grand total comes to $31,498.

Competition

2014 Honda Insight

2014 Honda Insight High Resolution Exterior
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The Honda Insight works on the same premise as the Prius, using a gasoline engine and electric motor supplied by batteries. However, that’s where much of the similarities end. The Prius V, and even the standard Prius, have larger interior volumes than the Insight. The Prius V’s fuel economy lands right around the Insight’s as the Honda is rated at 41 mpg city, 44 mpg highway, and 42 mpg combined.

The Honda is the clear winner when it comes to price, however, as the Insight’s base sticker starts at just $18,725.

2014 Chevrolet Volt

2014 Chevrolet Volt High Resolution Exterior
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The 2015 Chevy Volt also offers a good solution to the hybrid question, though the Volt is an "extended-range electric," in that its electric motor solely powers the car. The batteries last for 36 miles, and then the gasoline engine, which functions solely as a generator, takes over from there to provide electricity. The 2016 model has improved performance: 50 miles on the batteries and will reportedly come in at a lower price.

Interior volume is smaller here than in the Prius V, so shoppers looking to haul a ton of stuff might want to look elsewhere. Prices for the Volt start at $34,185, but the government tax incentive brings the price down to roughly $26,000.

Conclusion

2014 Toyota Prius V - Driven Exterior
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The Prius V works well as a go-between for families looking for the room of a compact crossover and the fuel efficiency of a hybrid. Sure, you don’t get the trendy high ride height, big wheels, and useful towing capacity, but you do get 44 mpg in the city. That’s a huge jump up from any crossover on the market today.

As a Prius, the V holds true to its hybrid heritage and Toyota legacy. As a car, it works well as an in-town runabout or long-distance interstate cruiser. Besides an interior that could use more sound insulation, the Prius is a comfortable place to be. The Prius V might not be the most obvious substitute for a non-hybrid wagon or tall crossover, but the advantages are there for cross-shoppers to find.

  • Leave it
    • * Interior is on the loud side
    • * Odd cup holder arrangement
    • * Dim back-lighting on interior switches
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