New Toyota Prius+ review
The Toyota Prius now comes in three body styles; the standard hybrid hatchback, a plug-in hybrid version and now, a seven-seat MPV. But does the Prius+ deliver on the road?
The Prius+ is all about space. In addition to having seven seats as standard located in three rows, Prius+ offers several seating and boot/load space options.
With all seven seats in use, the boot offers 232-litres of load capacity, with five seats in use with the two rear forward facing seats folded into the flat load floor this goes up to 787-litres and with all the second and third row seats folded to make a flat loadbed the space goes up to a massive 1,750-litres.
The only slight issue is the higher loading height for the load area. The height of the Prius+ MPV over the Prius hatch has been increased by 110mm to 1,600mm. The overall length of the Prius+ MPV is 4,615mm so it remains relatively easy to park with good visibility thanks to the traditional high mounted cabin style comfortable seats.
The wheelbase has been extended by 80mm to accommodate three rows of seats and it is 30mm wider. For added ease-of-use the middle row has three individual seats which can be folded or they slide fore and aft independently.
The comfortable, user friendly interior and massive load space with seating combinations, makes the Prius+ on paper a good family carry-all vehicle but the purchase price will be a 'put-off' for some unless the compelling nature of greener hybrid power outweighs the added financial cost burden.
Less mobile and Motability customers will find the Prius+ worth considering because of the load space for carrying mobility aids and the comfortable easy to get in to and out of cabin style seating.
Toyota Prius+ running costs
The most likely users are businesses for their company car drivers because of tax and potential fuel saving and promoting the perceived 'green eco' credentials of the business.
For the company car driver the vehicle can be a roomy load carrier during the week and a frugal to run family bus at the weekend. Even if the family unit has few or no children then the load area can accommodate all manner of cargo or sports and recreational equipment.
The Prius+ also has appeal for business chauffeur and private hire use especially in London because the T4 best selling version is free of Congestion Charges for now. Changes to these charges, together with all VED road tax and BIK company car tax bandings are due next year so like all other cars taxes will be increasing.
Toyota Prius+ first drive
The Prius+, like all other Prius family members, is exceptionally easy to drive. It uses the usual fuel frugal petrol 1.8-litre petrol engine with electric motor with drive to the front wheels through a CVT auto transmission.
The small joystick gear select lever just has D to go forward, R to reverse, N for neutral and B to select a lower gear for going downhill when engine braking is required.
There is a foot operated parking brake. The driver can also select one of three push-button driving modes - Power, Eco and EV, only the latter requires explanation.
EV allows the Prius+ to run in electric power only but it only offers a very short driving range of around 1.2 miles before the engine cuts in.
Normally the vehicle will pull away, if parked on the flat, in electric drive only before the petrol engine seamlessly cuts-in.
A push Start button brings the car to life; instruments light up, select D or R, release the parking brake, press the accelerator and off you go.
Accelerating hard the CVT transmission holds on to the engine revs for too long so the power unit sounds noisy and stressed and it's the same going up a hill, the CVT changes down and the noise goes up.
There was also more road noise intrusion into the vehicle than I expected. Once in the cruise though and on smoother road surfaces the Prius+ provided a relaxed and comfortable drive.
The suspension is on the hard side but the comfortable seats offset that. The firm ride setting means little body roll during cornering and little fore and aft pitching during braking and acceleration so that provides for passenger comfort. The steering, although offering little feedback, is well weighted.
Top speed is 103mph and zero to 62mph takes 11.3 seconds but fuel economy is potentially more impressive with an official Combined Cycle figure 68.9mpg. My test, using motorways, country and town roads ended up with 52.4mpg.
This was no better than a diesel powered MPV and on top of that the Prius+ hybrid is more expensive to buy although the various taxes incurred are lower.
Specification for the T4 version includes 16-inch alloy wheels, touch screen audio and multimedia information, 6-speaker audio system, Bluetooth connection, head-up display, rear view camera, air conditioning, electrically operated windows and door mirrors, panoramic sunroof with blind, rain sensing wipers and LED daytime running lights.
The T Spirit additions include leather upholstery, upgraded audio system, Touch & Go navigation system and 17-inch alloys.
The Toyota Prius+ MPV is a logical and worthwhile addition to the expanding Prius hybrid family.
Compared to other medium to large MPVs with conventional diesel and petrol engines it is more expensive to buy but it is 'greener' and is the only seven-seat MPV on the market which offers CO2 emissions below 100g/km.
Toyota Prius+ T4 MPV 7-Seats.
£26,195. Drivetrain: petrol/electric hybrid, 1.8-litre, 4-cylinder petrol engine 98bhp, 104lb ft at 4,00rpm, 81bhp electric motor, CVT automatic transmission.
103mph, zero to 62mph 11.3 seconds, 68.9mpg (52.4mpg on test), CO2 96g/km, VED road tax £0, BIK company car tax10%, London Congestion Charge free.
L 4,615mm, W 1,775mm, H 1,600mm, 7-seats, boot/load space 232 to 1,750-litres.Warranty: 5-years/100,000 miles.
Versatile and logical addition to the Prius hybrid family, roomy, comfortable, well equipped, large load space, low for tax costs, good for company car users.
Expensive to buy for retail users, engine/CVT transmission noisy under load, firm suspension, road noise intrusion.