Plenty of words have been wasted by motor noters who find it necessary to constantly reiterate the Prius isn’t a driver’s car. Whenever we are presented with such a sentence, the reaction is always a simple, no s#*t Sherlock!
When presented with the startling revelation that the Prius isn’t one for the purists, we can't help but think, what is a driver’s car?
For us, a driver’s car is something with a sporty intent primarily to enjoy on the weekends. That still leaves five days of the week, which is another revelation worthy of a Sherlock reference.
Daily driving is what the Prius was designed to navigate. This is where our long-term Prius v has spent the majority of its time. Negotiating family duties and the daily commute in comfort is what the Prius v is all about.
If a monotonous drive to work is a staple of your day, it’s best to undertake the journey in comfort. The Prius v is a comfortable car to drive in town, it’s a serene place to enjoy a coffee on the way to work.
Take off is generally an electric-only affair, with a very light throttle, the Prius v can cover a few kilometres using only battery power, press too hard or go over 40 clicks and the petrol engine seamlessly enters the fray.
The hybrid propulsion system is refined, at speeds under 80km/h, it’s a remarkably quiet cabin which keeps occupants insulated from the hustle and bustle of busy roads.
Burying the right foot will cause an unsettling sound from the transmission, Toyota could do more to suppress this unappealing noise. Smooth acceleration is the way to go.
Even with an overly enthusiastic driver, the Prius v is no speed demon, so there’s nothing to be gained by giving it a bootful.
Goldilocks would be pleased with the suspension calibration, it’s perfect, not too hard, not too soft. Also worth bragging about is the steering, it’s on the firmer side which is a pleasant surprise.
Now haters gonna hate, however, those who have already dismissed the Prius v on the back of ‘expert’ opinions should note the chassis feels planted during a spirated turn-in. The low centre of gravity gives the Prius v a level of stability that the majority of seven-seaters won't be able to match. It’s not what many would expect of a seven-seat MPV.
Toyota has equipped the Prius v with three drive modes: Eco, Normal and Power. The Eco mode conjures images of out of this world efficiency, yet it offers negligibly better economy for the dulled response of the powertrain.
Normal mode provides the best balance of performance and economy. Throttle response is sharpened in Power mode which is handy when the driving situation requires additional thrust.
Interestingly, in day-to-day driving, frequently using the Power mode doesn’t have an adverse effect on consumption. Drivers preferring the quicker response will need to press the Power mode button at every startup, the car defaults to Normal mode when it’s turned off.
Power mode is most useful when the Prius v is fully laden, with loaded chairs the extra vigour makes a difference.
If you’ve come this far and are still attentive, you’ll notice we haven’t published the consumption figure, a full write up of the Prius v’s fuel usage is coming soon.
There are a few annoyances starting with the foot-operated parking brake. After a week or so you’ll get used to it, however, it’s an idea that should now be confined to the annals of automotive history. Aside from being a PITA, it’s at odds with the modern powertrain and overall vibe of the Prius v.
The sleek looking front end with its low nose makes it very difficult to determine where the front of the car ends. You’re never as close to the object in front as you think you are.
These are minor criticisms, not deal breakers. The Prius v is a comfortable car in which to undertake life’s many chores. In the very hectic week leading up to Christmas, the Prius v was the car to have, along with a comfortable ride, the flexibility of seven-seats and the large luggage capacity were valuable features to have.
While many have found fault with the Prius family for not being a driver’s cars, the Prius v is about as fit for purpose as a daily driver can get if transporting a family is what is underpinning the purchasing decision.
Next up we are taking the Prius v on a 1500km road trip.
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