Rumors of an MPV or minivan based on
Toyota's popular Prius have been swirling
around for quite some time. Given that current 5-seat Prius is
capable of 50 mpg, it's seems reasonable to think that a slightly
larger vehicle with additional seating/cargo capacity would be
welcome in the marketplace (with a slight hit to overall fuel
Inside Line has some of the first spy photos of the MPV
counterpart to the Prius hatchback. According to the publication, the
vehicle will seat seven passengers and will be similar in size to
such vehicles as the Mazda 5 and the Kia Rondo. The Mazda 5 in
particular is quite popular with small families as it is closer in
size to the original Chrysler minivans that debuted in the mid-80s
instead of the gargantuan Siennas, Odysseys, and Caravans prowling
the streets today.
Given that the MPV will share much in
common with the standard Prius, we expect to see the same 1.8-liter
gasoline engine used and a new lithium-ion battery pack for added
power and range (while at the same time saving weight). It shouldn't
be too difficult for the MPV to achieve greater than 40 mpg combined
(city/highway), but we'll just have to wait for the final EPA numbers
to come in when the vehicle is released next year.
When the Prius MPV does hit U.S.
streets, it will likely be joined by a similar offering from General
Motors: the Chevrolet Volt MPV5. The "crossover" variant of the standard
Volt sedan seats five people and can travel up to 35 miles on
battery power alone.
Toyota has just posted a teaser shot of it upcoming Prius MPV on its Facebook page.