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First Drive: 2012 Toyota Prius V


In Bob Lutz's cigar-smoke-scented new book, "Car Guys vs. Bean Counters," the father of the Chevy Volt declares that the Toyota Prius is a marketing stunt that bled Toyota to the tune of $300 million. However, Lutz continues, that money was very well-spent, as the TOYOTA PRIUS paid massive dividends in terms of good will from ill-informed consumers ("My TOYOTA SEQUOIA must get great mileage -- it's a Toyota!") and positive coverage from the elite, liberally biased press. ("Toyota builds the planet saving Prius; General Motors ushers in Armageddon with Hummer H2.") What Maximum Bob fails to mention is that Toyota has sold more than 2 million Prii, more than 1 million alone in the United States (with one third of that subtotal sold here in California) and has amortized the hell out of the initial investment by licensing its Hybrid Synergy Drive technology to any OEM that raised its hand (Nissan, Ford).

 I just drove the TOYOTA PRIUS V, the second of four planned TOYOTA PRIUS models (or "family members," as Toyota likes to call them), proving that if nothing else, Toyota's hybrid machinations are much more than just a marketing exercise. In fact, you could argue that the TOYOTA PRIUS and its new siblings represent an honest-to-goodness business case. But is this new, bigger TOYOTA PRIUS any good?

 Let's get the not-so-positive stuff out of the way up front. Due to its size and state of tune, the 238-pounds-heavier V doesn't get 50 mpg combined-it gets 42 mpg (44 city, 40 highway). Meaning that if you don't actually need the extra space (A V is 58% more accommodating than the regular Prius), you're hurting the planet to the tune of 8 mpg in the name of comfort. Now, in Asia, the V is called the TOYOTA PRIUS Alpha and it has a third row. Here? There's no third row. Why? Well, Mazda can't give away its nifty but cramped three-row Mazda5, and Toyota knows full well that us Americans want and need more space. Which is why instead of the new V, Toyota will happily sell you a three-row TOYOTA HIGHLANDER Hybrid. Never mind the extra $10,000 or so.

(Source)


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