Last weekend, I had the chance to test drive a new Prius v for the weekend, thanks to the fine folks at Toyota. I had my pick of their new cars to try out, but I opted for the Prius v because it seemed to be a cross between the two cars we already have: an original, first-generation Prius and a Lexus RX300. I was pleasantly surprised by the car, and it is currently high on my list of cars when ours need to be replaced.
We have used our 2001 Prius as a commuter car for a little over 10 years now, primarily for getting to and from work and short local trips. We love taking road trips, but generally go with our roomier Lexus due to the limited trunk space on the Prius. Unfortunately, with high gas prices, the Lexus is not always the most economical choice, but we just can't cram all of our luggage, snacks, and gear into the Prius. The Prius v is the best of both, in that it has ample trunk space AND great gas mileage, averaging over 40 miles per gallon.
We got to tool around in the Prius v for the weekend, and were all impressed. My 6'4" husband found the extra headroom and legroom to be a bonus, and our leggy almost-12 year old enjoyed having more space the back seat as well. I liked the comfortable seats and multiple cupholders, along with the dashboard gadgetry that allows you to do simple searches while on the road.
We had to pick up supplies for our annual neighborhood pool party, and were astounded that multiple cases of soda, chips, food, and other drinks fit easily into the trunk without folding the seats down. There was plenty of room to spare as well. Prius v definitely lives up to the Costco challenge. Since Costco is my husband's designated "happy place," he got along well with the Prius v. What is it with men and big box stores? Just because it's a deal if you buy in bulk, doesn't mean we need 4,000 rolls of toilet paper. Even so, the Prius v, with fold-down rear seats, would be able to accommodate the lifetime supply of tofu burgers that you just had to have. In addition, there is a secret compartment under the mat where you can store valuables out of sight, or to store your roadside emergency kit.
This would be a wonderful car for a small family that doesn't want to go full-on minivan. The backseats have plenty of leg room and is wide enough for multiple carseats. The car comes equipped with a carseat tethering system to secure the carseats in. Older kids will like the multiple cupholders, backseat armrests and plug-in stations for portable gaming systems or dvd players. Moms of multiple kids often complain that the worst thing about road trips is the fact that kids fight. In the Prius v, there's plenty of room in the back to forestall the inevitable "he's touching me!" fights that can occur. If only Toyota would build a wall there, the car would be perfect.
Both of our current cars have a GPS navigation system, but it was a little difficult to get used to the look and feel of the new system in the Prius. I had it on some kind of 3D setting that starting making me dizzy after looking at it for a while. We finally figured out how to adjust it to 2D and it was more like what we were used to. Entering a destination is much easier, although the touchscreen didn't seem to respond to my nails, so I think you have to use your finger pads. Those with long nails should be forewarned.
The cars come equipped with Entune, a connectivity system that allows you to use apps like Bing, Pandora, and Open Table connected to your phone to find nearby restaurants, attractions, and play music. The apps are equipped to use voice commands, so your hands never have to leave the wheel while you search for Vietnamese food in unfamiliar territory.
One of my coworkers asked if I could take her for a spin around the parking lot at work to try the car out, since she is thinking of replacing her existing car with a Prius v. We noticed a little black slot on the driver's side that the manual says is a "card slot." We tried to imagine what that might be used for--credit card slot for use at drive-thru windows? Your Starbucks gold card? Parking lot tickets? A really small grilled cheese sandwich? We also admired the double-glove compartment, with the additional glove box above the traditionally placed one. That would be a great place to store CDs, registration cards, insurance cards, and other things you need to grab without reaching down. If you're a parent, the top box would be a great place to store toys, snacks, or extra clothes for little ones.
Overall, I was very impressed with the Prius v. I think it would be a good compromise between the small SUV and a compact car. It was easy to drive, fuel efficient, and had good pick-up on the highway. Now, if I could just get Toyota to loan me one permanently...
Disclosure: I was selected for participation in the Toyota Women's Influencer Network through a program with Clever Girls Collective. I did not receive any compensation for writing this post, or payment in exchange for participating. The opinions expressed herein are mine, and do not reflect the views of Toyota.
Photo Credit: All photos are copyright Glennia Campbell. All Rights Reserved.