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Reviewing the 2012 Toyota Prius V

July 18, 2012

Say hi to my reflection

Toyota dropped off a shiny new Prius V at my house on Friday for me to drive for the weekend.

Here’s a photo of the car and me out in that flattering midday sun, with my neighborhood background amateurishly removed and some large-caliber bullet holes put in my head just for fun and because my hair was a mess anyway:
Suebob and a prius

I immediately took it out on the highway (once I figured out how to start it and put it in gear – more on that later), then the back way home through some twisty windy hilly roads.

On Sunday, my friend Jim and I took it north, with our furthest point being Montaña de Oro State Beach near Los Osos. Pretty, huh? We managed to put over 300 miles on it in one day – a good test drive.

Here’s my opinion of the car.

The Good

  • It’s a little higher up off the ground than either my Honda Fit or my Hyundai Elantra Touring. This makes it feel more comfy, gives better visibility, and prevents the bottom from scraping on my too-steep driveway entrance.
  • It is big enough to carry a lot of cargo – it has 34.3 cubic feet of cargo space
  • Handles really well on little mountain roads, even though it winds up quite a big going up hills – I found myself yelling “Go, little car, go!”
  • The seats are comfy and there’s enough leg room for Jim, who is around 6 foot 3.
  • The control freak in me loves the temperature control, which dials up the EXACT number of degrees you want the car:
  • IMG_4259

  • I could get used to the backup cam and in-dash navigation.
  • Really smooth ride. Way smoother than my Honda Fit, even smoother than my year-old Hyundai Elantra Touring.
  • This one came with Yokohama tires. If I can’t have Michelins or Pirellis, I’m a Yokohama mama. Seriously. I’m picky about tires.
  • It beeps at you if you leave the lights on or the door ajar. I need this.
  • The Bad

  • Like many cars of this shape and size, it seems a little light when you’re out in high winds, like I was when I was driving along the shore on Friday.
  • The backup beeping. When you’re in reverse, it beeps annoyingly, inside the car. I know it sounds petty, but that would be enough to keep me from buying this car.
  • As I drove it, it is $29,200 in California (probably less elsewhere. We’re lucky here in California that every freaking thing costs more. This car did have all the bells and whistles, but still, that seems a lot. My car, the Hyundai Elantra Touring, which has a lot of cargo room, seats 5, and also has some great features (mine came with leather seats, seat warmers, sunroof and a 5 year/60k warranty) is under $20k.
  • The Prius is a hybrid and says it will save you $6,100 in fuel over 5 years. So the fuel cost savings don’t pencil with the almost $30k price (though my car doesn’t have the built in nav or the backup cam, so that accounts for part of the price difference).
  • Wind buffetting in the car with the back windows down. I think all cars this shape do that, but man, I wish they didn’t, because the dog wants the windows down. In the Elantra, I can mitigate this by cracking a front window about an inch, but in this car I had to open both front windows about 4 inches before it would stop.
  • The Weird

  • There are some things about the Prius that would take some getting used to. Like the lack of a key – this is one of those push-button start cars, which kept baffling me over and over. You have to depress the brake, push the power button, then put it in gear. Maybe this is one of those “You kids and your newfangled devices!” items that I would get used to – like I didn’t use to think I needed a keyless entry. Those days are gone.
  • It also has a weird little gear shifty knob that, knowing me, I’d have to think about every single time for the first year or two.
  • IMG_4258
    That blue knob on the bottom is the gear shift.

  • The hybrid quietness. I shouted about 50 times over the weekend “Is this thing ON??”
  • The Verdict
    Would I buy one? No. It’s a cute car, it’s a great car, it’s going to be a reliable car, but it’s not MY car.

    It would be great for a young family or surfers who need space for boards, or a recent college grad or maybe a senior who is downsizing from a huge sedan. It also has that environmentalist cachet that goes a long way in some circles.

    But me – I’d either go cheap and get my Hyundai over again or I’d save my money and buy the Toyota Venza, which is my new object of lust.

    What does Jim say?

    But expounding Jim is fun too
    “I like my black convertible Mustang.”

    Disclosure: I am a member of the Toyota Women Influencers Network TWIN community 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 or any of its brands.

  1. July 18, 2012 14:13

    Good to know.

    • August 1, 2012 20:39

      You could fit 5 big dogs in the back, though.

  2. Elvie permalink
    July 19, 2012 07:27

    Hey, at least you got a road trip out of the deal and found out lots about the car. How was the mileage?

    • August 1, 2012 20:39

      I could never figure out how to get it to tell me the mileage…I know it has to be there somewhere with all those instruction panels, but I could not find it.

  3. Anonymous permalink
    July 19, 2012 19:45

    My Prius v is three days old and it’s awesome. Currently averaging 53.2 mpg. Much better than previous Escape Hybrid!

    • August 1, 2012 20:38

      I’m glad it works for you. It is really a pretty nice little car. Just not MY car, as I said.

  4. July 20, 2012 09:22

    I did a grad school marketing communications project on the Prius C a few months ago. It was a great ad campaign, but really targeted young (20-30) singles and couples. I was looking at the V for myself as a second car. My Honda Odyssey does the same window thing and it drives me nuts. Hearing that the V has the same issue along with the cost savings vs. purchase cost disparity has me thinking a different model may be a better fit.

    • August 1, 2012 20:38

      I am the worst blogger ever – they sign me on and I tell everything that is wrong with their car. But dang it, I guess you can put on my gravestone “At least she was honest.”

  5. July 25, 2012 12:45

    Is this the hatch-back-ish one? I rented a Prius and had similar thoughts, but overall liked it except for the rear visibility. Then they came out with the hatch-back and I wondered if the visibility were different. My fave, though, so far is the Nissan Leaf. Loved it.

    • August 1, 2012 20:37

      Yes, the hatchback. Bigger than the other 2 Priii. My boss had the leaf and really liked his.


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