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Pondering Prius: Differences In Toyota’s Prius and Prius V

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External passenger quarter view of 2013 Toyota Prius V

The Toyota Prius V cuts a slightly larger silhouette than its smaller Prius and Prius C siblings. (Lyndon Johnson photo.)

One thing people keep asking me during my week-long test of the Toyota Prius V is how it’s different from the regular Prius. Let’s talk numbers:

The Prius V is the largest of the Prius family. Lots of people are  familiar, at least in passing, with the regular Prius, which is the next-smallest offering in the lineup. In my experience this week, however, nowhere near as many people are familiar with the V or the smallest member of the lineup, the Prius C.

While I did not have a regular Prius or a Prius C at my disposal during the test week, I can pull up numbers from Toyota. Doing so reveals that the V has 34.3 cubic feet of cargo volume, while the regular Prius has 21.6– a very noticeable difference of 12.7 cubic feet. That difference is nearly as much as a lot of subcompact cars’ cargo capacity and just 4.4 cubic feet less than the Prius C’s 17.1 cubic foot capacity. The V would appear to make most of its extra cargo room by mostly ditching the regular Prius’ signature Kammback profile at the rear in favor of a more traditional wagon-style upright cargo area. In other words, the back of the car is less aerodynamic, but the extra height adds welcome cargo space.

Rear driver side quarter view of the 2013 Toyota Prius V

The rear cargo area of the 2013 Toyota Prius V is more squared-off than the regular Prius and has markedly more room than the small Prius C. (Lyndon Johnson photo)

Another area where the V is larger than the others in the Prius family is passenger volume, with 97.2 cubic feet to the regular Prius’ 93.7. The rear seat of the V slides fore and aft, much like the Chevrolet Equinox we tested a couple weeks ago.  The rear-seat legroom is largely the same as the Prius– in fact, it’s a tenth of a cubic foot less in the larger V– but the V has a full inch more headroom in both the front and rear rows.

Perhaps the most important area where the Prius V is bigger is its appetite for fuel, at least in the eyes of most Prius shoppers.  The V is rated at 40 MPG highway and 44 MPG city, which is not quite as efficient as its smaller cousins. The regular Prius gets 48 MPG highway and 51 MPG city, while the smallest Prius C gets 46 MPG highway and 53 MPG city.

Is the larger size of the V worth the fuel mileage penalty? That’s a decision only shoppers can make for themselves. However, were I shopping for a Prius, I’d think very strongly about taking the V home. Its squared-off cargo hold seems much more practical than the sloping rear area of the regular Prius or the truncated cargo hold of the Prius C.

Disclosure: Toyota provided the vehicle, insurance, and a tank of gas.

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