2013 Toyota Prius V Three Model – Truck Guy Review
As a truck guy, I have always been curious as to what was the allure with the Prius. Toyota has sold more than 3 million of these hybrids in more than 80 countries and I see them everywhere. What does a truck guy think of them? Find out in my review.
Here is what I knew about the Prius before my review: it is a small hybrid car that gets great fuel economy. That’s it. I had never really been interested in sitting in one nor driving one. I just didn’t have a desire. When, I saw a Prius V in the local press fleet, I thought what the heck, let’s give it a try. I also thought it would be good for our site and our readers.
The truth is that we have been asked a lot (for a truck site) about the Prius. In fact, Jason wrote a post comparing a 2011 Prius with a 1993 Geo Metro that is still getting comments and hits. Seems to me that either people love the Prius or hate the Prius, but they all want to talk about the Prius. Don’t believe me? Go to any truck forum, type the word Prius in and you will find lots of threads.
For our test model we were given a 2013 Toyota Prius V Three Model with a price of $29,189.00. Our model was rated at 44 city, 40 highway – odd that city is higher than highway, yet I think that is due to the hybrid. For the record, the Prius has a 1.8L DOHC 16-Valve VVT 4 cylinder engine with the sealed Nickel-Metal Hydride battery. Toyota calls this the Hybrid Synergy Drive System.
A few things to clarify before I start the review. The V series is what Toyota calls “versatility” or as a common guy calls it a “hatchback.” The Three model is the trim level and is akin to the Tundra Limited trim level (if you go with SR5, Limited, Platinum/1794 – exclude SR). Our test model was white, however, with the bitter cold snap we experienced, I didn’t get many photos of it (too darn cold). I will use some stock photos instead.
When they dropped the Prius off, the first thought that crossed my mind is that it isn’t bad. While I have passed quite a few at various auto shows, taking a closer look at this one, I was actually pretty impressed for a hatchback. I have driven the Ford Fiesta ST hatchback and comparing the two, the Prius just looks much better to me. Unlike the Ford, the Prius isn’t trying to attract a new younger, audience and the lines in the Prius are more for a mature audience. It is a stable product for Toyota and if anything it is a little on the bland side (Toyota’s design hallmark). Yet, there isn’t a lot of turnoffs. I thought everything from the lights, mirrors and trunks looked like it was well designed and fit together nicely.
On the rear, I really thought the hatch was well done. In years past, there had been some hatch designs that really stood out. I mean, you knew it was a hatch. This Prius was harder to immediately identify as a “hatch” since everything blended so well. It is one of the very few hatchbacks that I wouldn’t call ugly.
Everything on the car seemed to fit extremely well and the nothing stood out. The fit and finish was superb as usual for Toyota products, every detail fit together and while it didn’t stand out in a crowd, it stood out in its own way.
The inside, as opposed to the exterior, really surprised me. There are just so many things to discuss that you really have to sit in one to understand. For starters, the windows provide excellent vision and it really rivals the view you get from the Tundra. The space between the passengers and driver is ample for a car. Yet there is only one cup holder that is apparent (the others are hidden). All the gauges are easy to see and the knobs are easy to reach. And there again, some of the knobs felt odd and the “park” button was huge and disproportional to the others in an odd way. It is a combination of good/odd throughout the car.
The space in the rear though is amazing. Opening the hatch and folding down the seats, I felt like I could haul all sorts of things. It was shocking how much space there was and this is best feature by far of the interior.
While the space was surprising in a good way, the seats, instrument panel and lack of options wasn’t. I was flat out shocked at how the driver’s seat didn’t have anything power besides lumbar. Every adjustment was manual. Maybe I have been driving Lexus products way too much, but for $30k and a brand new 2013 model, I expected power seats at least. I checked the Toyota site and the next trim level up, the 5 model, doesn’t have power seats either although it does have leather. This was very odd to me, since I would have thought this would be at least an option.
Another odd item is the instrument panel that sits in the middle of the dash. It isn’t exactly out of the way, but it certainly isn’t ideal I think. You have to constantly look over at it while driving to see your MPH. While, I did get used to it, I never felt extremely comfortable with it. Mostly, it left me wondering why they did it. The space behind the steering wheel, where the dash normally is, was blank, empty and not useful. Basically, you have this huge empty space that felt out of place. I guess you could have put a map there or some important folder of papers, but why? It really didn’t serve any purpose nor make sense.
Overall, the interior felt very utilitarian. It wasn’t fancy and was, in my opinion, lacking many features/options that could have improved the driving experience. I guess I just thought it would be fancier or more interesting.
The Prius is like any other compact car to me, driving it isn’t exactly exciting. The model I had did extremely well considering the roads were snowy and icy every where. Overall, I was pretty happy with how the Prius handled the conditions and how it drove.
There had been some discussion on other reviews that the road noise from the Prius was “loud.” I’m not so sure about this. Could it have been quieter? Sure, but I didn’t really expect it to be.
Piloting the car (and I will say piloting) is a bit of different matter. First off, the Prius has four driving modes that are: EV, ECO, PWR and Normal. While I played with all of these modes, I never felt any real difference. Toyota says that the modes impact fuel economy and the PWR (power) is meant for wanting more torque. On their site, they state: “EV/ECO/POWER Modes; 98 hp @ 5200 rpm (73 kW @ 5200 rpm); 105 lb.-ft. @ 4000 rpm (142 N•m @ 4000 rpm).” Frankly, I tried them all and there are extremely minimal differences at best. I did try, quite often, to get the Prius to use the EV only mode (battery), yet I did a poor job at this and was never really able to do it effectively. This is a car that you need some time/experience driving I think to really get the EV mode down.
It also has this strange gear shift knob that snaps back to a neutral placement AFTER you select drive, reverse or park. This small gear shift knob felt awkward to me and took a while to get used to the feel of it. Also, the snapping back into place piece was just strange. Why Toyota decided to have this item on the Prius is beyond me.
Another strange thing is that the car has a “ready” light that comes on when the vehicle is “on.” Several times I would either be backing out or starting to drive BEFORE the engine kicked on. While I knew this was going to happen at some point with the hybrid, it was just a strange feeling especially coming from driving a full-size truck. There is no throaty roar of the engine when it turns over, no reeving up excitement. Frankly, there were times I wasn’t exactly sure if the car was on or off. Several times I had turned the music up and didn’t even hear the engine turn over. All I felt was this little vibration.
While Prius owners seem to take a lot of heat from truck guys for being tree huggers or environmentalists that thought never crossed my mind. I just put the Prius into perspective. It is a $30k, 44, 40 city, highway mpg compact hatchback.Looking at the competition, it stacks up really well with the others like the Ford Fiesta (38/27 for $22k), Mazda3 (41/30 for $27k) and Honda Fit (35/28 for $20k). Yes, it is more expensive, but the fuel economy is quite a bit better.
I thought overall, the Prius is a good product, for what it isthat shouldn’t be overlooked when looking for a compact car. Frankly, if I had a long commute, I would strongly consider one. You just can’t beat 44/42 mpg these days from a well-built car.
Filed Under: TundraHeadquarters.com