From £26,214
Toyota expands the Prius line-up with seven-seat people carrier

Our Verdict

Toyota Prius+

Bigger seven-seat Prius makes for a practical, sub-100g/km MPV. Chassis adequate, but noisy acceleration, an indifferent cabin and steep prices count against it

  • First Drive

    Toyota Prius+

    Toyota expands the Prius line-up with seven-seat people carrier
1 December 2011

What is it?

The Toyota Prius+ is a new three-row, seven-seat version of the Prius hybrid that is likely to be introduced next June. Buyers of people-carriers, Toyota says, are getting worried about their cars’ economy. Choose something with the seven-seat carrying capacity you need, they complain, and you’ll be stuck with vehicle that consumes more fuel than you can afford.

Defeating this problem is why Toyota plans to introduce the Prius+, and the company recently allowed Autocar an early drive in one.

What’s it like?

The Prius+ draws much from existing hatchback models: suspension, chassis components, hybrid drivetrain and many interior features, for instance. In fact, given its extra row of seats, it feels remarkably like a regular Prius to drive, probably because it is only 135mm longer and keeps the sleek Prius family look.

Even so, Toyota has introduced improvements likely to feed back into existing models. The Prius+ uses more advanced li-ion batteries that weigh less, are little more compact but preserve the EV-only range of about two miles.

The steering ratio is a little quicker, the damping has been re-calibrated, there is an improved exhaust heat recovery system, and a slightly shorter final drive ratio means the Prius+ accelerates like a Prius hatchback even though it is 80kg heavier. The Prius+ also introduces a new anti-dive, anti-pitch system that varies powertrain torque – by a couple of per cent so you don’t feel it – to level the body under brakes or over bad bumps.

Driving the Prius+ is a nice surprise. In EV mode it is expectedly silent, and even with the engine running it has all smoothness and quietness we’ve come to expect. The quicker-acting steering is pleasantly firm, the chassis turn-in is better than the MPV norm, yet the Prius+ feels serene and stable at all times. You never feel the powertrain varying its torque, but the car certainly does ride flat.

Should I buy one?

Toyota can expect success with its Prius+, mostly because few rivals can match its 50mpg-plus. Its main drawback is that the rear seats are too cramped for European-sized adults, but then, cars like this are mostly for kid-carrying anyway. For that purpose, the Prius+ is ideal.

Toyota Prius+

Price: £25,000 (est); Top speed: 106mph; 0-62mph: 11.8sec; Economy: 57.7mpg (combined); CO2: 99g/km; Engine type: 1797cc, 16v, 4cyl petrol + electric motor; Power: 98bhp + 80bhp; Torque: 105lb ft + 152lb ft; EV range: 2 miles; Gearbox: CVT

Join the debate

Comments
27

8 December 2011

Id have one. Alright id probably rather have an ecoboost 240 S max, but it looks ok, sounds ok to drive too. These days I see the Prius as being for people who want to sensibly keep their fuel bills down rather than eco hippy wierdy beardy greenpeace smug london arty farrty mobiles.

8 December 2011

`Toyota can expect success with its Prius+, mostly because few rivals can match its 50mpg-plus.`

I`m getting an easy 47mpg out of my 2010 Verso 2.0d

8 December 2011

When many Toyota drivers can't get near the 70 mpg combined figure on the standard Prius, why would they expect success on a bigger, heavier car?

Is that smoke I see in that Toyota logo-ed mirror?

8 December 2011

[quote jamesf1]These days I see the Prius as being for people who want to sensibly keep their fuel bills down... [/quote]

It's an interesting point, but most of the Priuses I see are barreling down lane 3 at about 90mph while I'm tooling along in lane 1 doing 60mph looking at my trip computer telling me I'm averaging 68mpg in my Golf diesel. It seems to me by the way an awful lot of people drive that they complain about the cost of fuel when they have to pay for it and then wipe it from their memory as soon as they drive off the filling station forecourt.

As for the Prius+, it's interesting seeing the hybrid drivetrain starting to be used in different classes of vehicles. That said, while I normally dislike the "How much? You can get xyz for a lot less" arguments, I can't help thinking that for a lot less money you can get a decent Touran/Zafira/C-Max class car, with the difference in price buying an awful lot of fuel.

I think the Prius+ is for people who have already decided they want a Prius but want something a bit bigger, rather than someone who is objectively looking at a range of MPVs and considering purchase and running costs. Of course, the argument is slightly different if you're in the congestion charge zone and gain the benefits of the Prius+'s (erm.... Prius's+?) low co2 output.

8 December 2011

The figures '57mpg' and '99g/km' don't seem to correlate. Is it actually '75mpg'? Or is the '57mpg' a figure achieved by the Autocar test team?

Still, an appealing car, but not an exciting one.

8 December 2011

It sounds fantastic. We love the hybrid drivetrain on our Prius - it's so smooth and pleasant for town work - an MPV's natural environment - that getting back into something more conventional can be quite unpleasant. We currently run an FRV as our second car, so a Prius+ would be a natural successor to it for us. It wouldn't be difficult to see an improvement on the 29MPG the FRV is currently getting.

Interesting the comment comparing it to things like the Touran. We recently had one as a courtesy car and there really is no comparison. The Touran interior feels significantly more down market to us, and very very basic. Which is poor given they're not that cheap either. Plus we found that although the diesel engine is pretty economical, it took a massive amount of time to warm up, and would barely hit operating temperature for most of my journeys (6 mile each way trips). Given short trips around town is the bread and butter for MPVs, the Prius+ sounds a really obvious choice, for us at least.

jer

8 December 2011

[quote dervdave]I`m getting an easy 47mpg out of my 2010 Verso 2.0d[/quote] I got 49.7 mpg from my Jaguar XF S the other week driving 40 miles from the the A3 and down the M4 at or just below the speed limit.. I promise not to do it again.

8 December 2011

As I don't trust Autocar's figures I visited Toyota's official website and they quote the Prius+ as achieving 64.2 mpg. Quite good I thought until I looked at its rivals...

The Renault Grand Scénic with the 130 HP 1.6 dCi engine already achieves 64.2 mpg. Nissan Qashqai+2 with the same engine isn't far behind with 60.1 mpg and Volkswagen's BlueMotion Technology Touran manages 61.4 mpg.

This is another disappointing petrol-hybrid; the Honda Jazz and Insight have poor economy compared to diesel rivals, too. And the Lexus CT, GS and LS models are actually outclassed in performance and economy terms.

8 December 2011

I just found an evener cleaner compact 7 seater you can buy! The 1.6 HDi Peugeot 308 SW with the 3rd row seat option manages 65.7 mpg. And at just over £19,000 it's £6,000 cheaper than the Prius+! :-P

8 December 2011

[quote Dark Isle]This is another disappointing petrol-hybrid; the Honda Jazz and Insight have poor economy compared to diesel rivals, too.[/quote]

Diesels can be every bit as disappointing. We recently also had a Passat Bluemotion as a temporary stand in for our Prius. Over the 500 miles it was with us, it just about managed to finish on an average of 48MPG. Our Prius, with the same driver doing the same journeys, comfortably exceeds 50MPG.

For short distance journeys typical of an MPV, I personally think petrol hybrid is a far better option than diesel.

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