Toyota Prius +
The Toyota Prius + combines low running costs with practicality making it ideal as a family car.
- Spacious cabin
- Seven-seat practicality
- Good economy
- Poor all-round visibility
- Feels laboured when tackling inclines
Toyota released their full hybrid vehicle the Prius in 1997, a few years later it came to UK shores and has become a global hit ever since. A few Hollywood stars have embraced the ‘green’ way of driving it offers, even a character from the American animation, 'Family Guy' drives one and in 2012 Toyota added to the range with the Prius +, which became the World’s first seven-seat full hybrid vehicle.
On the Road
The Prius + uses a 1.8-litre petrol engine which produces 98bhp with a maximum 142 Nm of torque. Working in conjunction with an 81bhp electric motor is where the appeal of a hybrid lies. It is wrongly assumed that any ‘green’ cars are slow, obviously full electric need to be driven more sedately otherwise you’ll run out of power, but the hybrid engine combination works as there is no unneccessary worrying about whether you will get to your final destination.
Not hair-raising figures with a top speed of 103mph and getting from 0-62mph in 11.3 seconds but the Prius + is all about economy rather than power.
It makes for a great cruiser on long motorway journeys and silently wafts around city streets in electric motor mode, but it struggles when it comes to any inclines as it feels like the power isn’t there to pull the car up the hill.
What is surprising is how well the Toyota Prius + rides, it is really comfortable yet firm and tackles less than smooth roads with ease. It is a well-balanced, planted vehicle making it ideal as a family runaround.
The smaller steering wheel feels light but it lacks in feedback which loses the connection the driver has with the car. Safety and handling systems on the Prius + include Vehicle Stability Control, Traction and Hill-start Assist Control.
Being a hybrid you can expect a very quiet ride especially when the car is using just the electric motor. It does still tend to surprise people how silent it is, most noticeable on country lanes when driving past the odd pedestrian.
Getting up to cruising speed increases engine noise and going uphill really adds, what can only be described as a loud whirring noise to the driving experience.
In the car
The high driving position is great, but what really lets the Toyota Prius + down is the visibility. It is hard to see where the front of the car finishes, there is an over the shoulder blind spot which isn’t ideal when overtaking and parking it up can be struggle as you can’t see out the rear. There maybe plenty of head room, but once you are loaded up with passengers it is difficult to see out any windows and the rear-view camera is a welcome addition.
The large centre dashboard dominates the cabin featuring the speedometer (lack of it being infront of the driver adds to the illusion of spaciousness), although there is a head-up display if you prefer. The TFT screen also features an Eco Drive Monitor so you can really test if you’re getting the most out of the car.
A simple to use Toyota Touch 2 with GO 6.1-inch screen features navigation, media, bluetooth and a hybrid energy display.
This is where the Toyota Prius + excels making it an excellent choice for those looking for practicality.
So often third row seats in seven seaters can only be really used for babies and children as they offer no depth for legroom. But the two in the rear don’t fall into this category and an average sized adult can fit in and not feel like they need their legs up around their head.
The back seats fold completely flat, a simple pull system has them up in position and there are quite a few variations with setting up the sliding second and third row seating depending on whether you’re throwing in some flatpack furniture or a group of children.
Boot capacity with five seats in place is 784-litres with a boot cover and storage underneath the floor, reducing to 232-litres with all seven seats in use which makes it quite limiting.
There is plenty of in-car storage with a double glovebox, cupholders and compartments in the doors.
Costing from £26,995 it is competitively priced and a welcome alternative to the bulkier looking people carriers and four wheel drive vehicles.
In Icon trim metallic paint costs an extra £295 and the Touch and Go 2 system £750.
Toyota predict a 68.9mpg combined fuel consumption figure, which although really good due to the hybrid system, we could only manage the mid fifty mark but we did do a lot of motorway driving. Around town using only electric power would really see drivers get the best out of it. With CO2 emissions as low as 96g/km then it falls into VED band A so is exempt from charges and Benefit In Kind rates are 13% making it ideal as a company car.
Toyota have improved the quality of the interior over the Prius, the Prius + using soft touch materials in the cabin and the touchscreen is finished off in smart, piano black gloss.
Toyota have a good reliablity record scoring well in surveys, in the 2009 What Car?/JD Power UK Vehicle Ownership Satisfaction Study the Prius came second in the individual car category.
The Toyota Prius + comes with a five-year/100,000 mile mechanical warranty, twelve-year anti-corrosion and perforation warranty, a three-year paintwork warranty and one year’s worth of full AA cover which is worth over £150.
There are front and side airbags for driver and passenger, curtain airbags and Isofix brackets for child car seats. In the Euro NCAP test only the Prius has been tested scoring a maximum five stars with an 88% score for adult protection and 82% for children.