2012 Toyota Prius v: Bigger is better

Although not as big as a full-size minivan, the new Prius v feels substantially more spacious than its hatchback predecessor. Fuel economy is somewhat reduced, but is still excellent.

2012 Toyota Prius v
Wayne Cunningham/CNET

If you put the standard Prius hatchback next to the new Prius v, this model expansion might seem like a pointless exercise, as the Prius v doesn't seem much bigger.

But it is a different story inside the car, as the larger cargo area, higher roof, and some design touches lead to an unexpected spaciousness. A standalone console between the front seats and dual moonroofs makes the car seem like a minivan.

The Prius v gets the same hybrid power train as the standard Prius, based around an electric motor and 1.8-liter gasoline engine, and the driving feel is very much the same. But there is a price to be paid for the extra weight and lessened aerodynamics, a substantial drop-off in fuel economy. But the Prius v still easily averages over 40 mpg, outstripping every other straight gasoline-engine car in the market.

Toyota also fits the Prius v with its new generation of cabin tech, based around a new series of head units. CNET's review car was fitted with the top tier, meaning hard-drive-based navigation, external data coming in through satellite radio and Entune app integration, and a new JBL GreenEdge audio system, designed to use less energy but produce robust sound.

We might have been skeptical about Toyota's decision to expand the Prius brand, but judging from the Prius v, it should be a success.

Read our review of the 2012 Toyota Prius v.

Featured Video
This content is rated TV-MA, and is for viewers 18 years or older. Are you of age?
Sorry, you are not old enough to view this content.

Microsoft leaves Apple in the dust with tablet and laptop innovation in 2015

Will there be one Apple Ring to rule them all? That's what a patent application says. Plus, building the thinnest gadget isn't innovation anymore and Apple just got a reality check from Microsoft.

by Brian Tong