The new, bigger, Toyota Prius V (vee) was introduced in our country in October of 2011, and was designed as a station wagon/multi-purpose vehicle to complement the Prius lineup. The Prius has been around since 1997 and is America’s number one selling hybrid. In fact, it accounted for almost 51% of the 270,000 or so hybrids sold in America last year, and globally the U.S. accounts for half of Prius production. The name on the car, “Prius”, is Latin for “before”.
The Barcelona red, front-wheel drive 2012 model Prius V was delivered to my house last week and I immediately planned a trip to Estes Park to buy lunch for my wife, Ruth. I punched the button to begin calculating the fuel mileage for the trip, and we headed for the Other Side (on the other side of Estes). I can’t really complain about the power it provided going up through the canyon, and handling was suitable, as was the ride. In a hybrid like this, the car has a gas (98 hp) engine and two electric (80 & 36 hp) motor/generators that combine (through a planetary gearbox) to power the wheels. Electric motors are actually generators, and visa versa. Put the juice to a motor, and you get motion. Crank the generator, and you get electricity. So these motor/generators in a Prius serve the dual purposes of wheel power and battery charge. And gasoline is the “motion lotion” that makes the car go – no gas, no go. When you leave a stoplight with a Prius, electric power gets you rolling and gasoline power takes it from 15 mph. When you slow down for a light, the weight of the car turns a motor/generator and charges the nickel-metal hydride battery. You can select “EV mode” on the console and creep around with electric power only, for instance in a parking garage at night. You can push a “power” button, too, and get maximum acceleration with max gas power. You cannot plug in a Prius, but I understand a plug-in model is being introduced. It will allow you to go, say, 50 miles without starting the gasoline engine, and the car is to be more expensive.
How does all this stuff work together for J. Q. Public, just trying to reach his or her destination? Pretty darn good, I’d say. I thoroughly enjoyed the week with this 5 passenger car, and by the way got 52.5 mpg on that trip to Estes Park. Even with a “fudge factor” that may be involved with the car’s computer, it’s excellent economy. The Prius V was equipped with heated leather buckets, as well as the “Advanced technology package”, that added $5,580.00 to the base price of $29,990.00. M.S.R.P. therefore came to $36,622.00 with the floor mats, wheel locks, and freight. In that package was hard disk drive navigation, back-up cam, 8 speaker stereo, satellite radio, USB port, Bluetooth phone setup, radar cruise control, double stationary moonroof arrangement with shades, electric power steering, power windows/locks/tailgate, and digital climate control. So many gadgets are included, that I understand Nancy Pelosi tells her friends that if they want to know what all is present on her Prius, they need to buy one.