It’s amazing how two seemingly innocuous words - road trip - can frighten the hardest of men. The road trip has become something of a divisive topic in a country where it was once a staple of local motoring.
For many of us, cheap flights have removed the need to cross large sections of Australia’s highways. Yet despite air travel being more affordable, there are some situations where the car still reigns supreme.
In the middle of last year, we were fortunate enough to take a Lexus NX from Melbourne to Sydney and back. It was a journey that proved the reflex action to seek out a cheap airfare isn’t always the best choice.
After exceeding expectations as a daily driver, our long-term Toyota Prius v, a car designed for family hauling, needed to be subjected to a road trip.
In this instance, the Christmas holidays provided the opportunity for the Prius v to stretch its legs on the Hume.
The very thought of undertaking a long-distance run will give many of us flashbacks to the escapades of the Griswold family. Before take off, Lindsey Buckingham’s Holiday Road was already on replay in the back of my mind. To describe this as annoying would be an understatement.
This journey would be a round trip from Shepparton to Sydney. The opening leg is a short 60-kilometre drive to Benalla via the Midland Highway, before connecting with the Hume for a relatively straight run into the Sydney CBD.
Immediately noticeable is the level of refinement. At 110 clicks with the petrol engine running, the Prius v is remarkably serene. Wind and tyre noise is suppressed leaving only the back seat passengers to disturb the ambience.
As with handling daily duties, the Prius v is all about comfort on the open road. It just hums along without any fuss.
While it won't win any acceleration contests, there is more than enough go when an overtaking move is required. Power mode can be selected if a boost is necessary. During overtaking manoeuvres, the Prius maintains its solid feel.
When the foot is planted, there is some noise from the transmission, however, it’s quick to disappear when the car returns to a cruise.
The adaptive cruise control isn’t as twitchy as some systems we have sampled, unfortunately, it doesn’t have the very handy stop and go function.
Regardless of the driving situation, we are in awe of the car’s clever interior layout. With a full boot, there is plenty of space for five people, there is acres of space in the second row.
The only thing that detracts from what is generally a high level of passenger comfort is the lack of vents in the back. The summer heat shows why proper rear air vents are essential for our market. This is an oversight or cost-cutting measure that Toyota should look to rectify.
Toyota’s in-house navigation system was thoroughly tested during this trip, it does the job, but it can't hold a candle to Google Maps. Frustratingly, it continued to ignore the roadworks in Sydney’s George Street.
With controlled NVH levels, everyone arrived at the hotel feeling surprisingly refreshed. The comfort and refinement the Prius v delivers over long distances are what buyers of luxury marques would expect.
The drive back to the Goulburn Valley wasn’t going to pose any dramas. In cars like this, long runs are nothing to sweat.
Overall, this trip covered 1544 kilometres. It doesn’t seem like much in the context of the size of Australia’s landmass, yet it’s long enough to be in transit with kids.
Those keen to know about the Prius v’s efficiency will need to check back, our next update will detail the car’s fuel consumption during its time with us.
The Prius v is easily Toyota’s most underrated family car, it’s one that gets lost in the mass of SUV metal that occupies the brand’s dealerships. This is a car that continues to surprise us, every driving situation we subject it to fails to find a deal breaker. The Prius v continues to make us wonder why it doesn’t move in larger numbers.