We first brought you news of the production version of the
Prius v, a larger variant of the popular Prius, back
in January. The Prius v is the latest effort by Toyota to expand its hybrid
reach and make the Prius nameplate its best selling model in the United States
(that honor currently goes to the Camry).
Ed Larocque, Toyota's Marketing Manager of Advanced
Technology, has confirmed
that the 5-seat hatchback will go on sale in October of this year. The
Prius v was supposed to go on sale this summer, but the earthquake
that hit Japan in March altered Toyota's production schedule.
Toyota hopes that it will find 30,000 buyers a year in the
U.S. for its new Prius v, which shouldn't be too hard a target to hit. Toyota
sold 140,928 Prii in 2010 alone.
The larger body of the Prius v allows it to have more cargo
room than its sibling (34.3 cu ft behind the rear seats versus 21.6 cu ft).
Toyota says that this better use of space will make the vehicle a better fit
for young families who don't want to step up to a mammoth minivan or crossover.
Unfortunately, maximum seating capacity for the Prius v is
an un-minivan-like five. Toyota offers a seven-seat variant of the Prius v in
Japan which is made possible because the Japanese market vehicle uses a
smaller, lighter lithium-ion battery pack which is located between the front
seats. In an effort to keep costs in check for the U.S. market, Toyota decided
to use an older style nickel-metal hydride battery pack which is located in the
cargo area, robbing space for the third-row seat.
Another downside is that the Prius v uses the same
powertrain as the standard Prius, yet it is over 200 pounds heavier. That means
that 60 mph comes up in a leisurely 11.5 seconds. The added weight and inferior
aerodynamic design mean that the Prius v can "only" muster 40 mpg
combined compared to 50 mpg combined for the Prius.
Pricing has not yet been announced, but it expect the Prius
v to be priced a few thousand more than a comparably equipped Prius.
The Prius family will grow yet again this time next year
with the 50+ mpg subcompact Prius c.