2015 Toyota Prius v

The Toyota Prius v is a station wagon that utilizes the same efficient hybrid powertrain as the standard Prius hatchback but offers more space for cargo and passengers. It isn't the most exciting ride in the high-mpg set, but for families seeking a comfortable and versatile hybrid, the Prius v represents a strong option.

Recent Changes
For the latest model year, the Prius v benefits from a series of mild updates that include a revised front fascia, a redesigned center console and more tech in the cockpit.

The Prius v's futuristic, wind tunnel-inspired shape shares many design elements with the standard-issue Prius hatchback, hinting at the many similarities between the two models. Aside from the wagon roofline, stylistic differences exist in the execution of the details, like slightly more angular headlights and fog lights inlaid into the lower front fascia.

Inside, the Prius v sports a more vertical dashboard with a unique two-tone center stack, although it borrows a steering wheel and a centrally located instrument panel configuration from its smaller sibling. Storage space is ample: the car can fit 34.3 cubic feet behind its 60/40 split folding rear seats, which is more room than many small SUVs offer. Fold down the rear seats, and there's a bike-swallowing 67.3 cubic feet to play with; its no accident that Toyota says that the "v" in the car's name stands for versatility.

Providing the means to set the Prius v and its cargo in motion is a 1.8-liter Atkinson cycle four-cylinder allied to a pair of electric motors. The three power sources produce 138 horsepower in total, which to the to front wheels via a continuously variable automatic transmission. Though essentially the same powertrain as the normal Prius, the added size and weight of the wagon bodystyle leads to a slight decrease in fuel economy: 44 mpg in the city and 40 on the highway, compared with 51/48.

Technophiles will appreciate the Prius v's available Entune system, which offers apps smartphone-based apps like Bing search services, iheartradio.com and Pandora music and concierge services like OpenTable and movietickets.com.

Trim Level Breakdown
The Prius v is available in three different trim levels: the Prius v Two, the Prius v Three and the Prius v Five.

The entry-level Prius v Two comes equipped with automatic climate control, a Display Audio system with a 6.1-inch touchsceen, six speakers and an iPod input jack, Bluetooth smartphone connectivity and audio streaming, a backup camera, a smartkey system with push-button start, steering-wheel mounted audio buttons, cruise control, power locks and 16-inch alloy wheels.

To those features, the Prius v Three adds a navigation system, a rearview camera, satellite radio, HD radio and Entune.

The high-end Prius v Five ups the ante with automatic LED headlights, fog lights and 17-inch alloy wheels.

Those seeking more luxury can add the Advanced Technology Package (available only on the Prius v Five), which includes a larger seven-inch touchscreen, a JBL premium audio system, dynamic radar cruise control, a panoramic moonroof, an advanced parking guidance system, automatic high beams, a lane departure warning system and a pre-collision system that employs sensors to detect impending accidents and warn the driver while also priming the brakes and preparing the airbags.

Available on the Prius v Three as a standalone option is a lightweight resin panoramic sunroof.

Occupant Safety
All Prius v models are equipped with dual front, side, front curtain and rear curtain airbags, while the driver also benefits from a knee airbag. Other safety features include traction and stability control systems, ABS, electronic brake-force distribution and a tire-pressure monitoring system.

Key Competitors
Interested in a hybrid with a little extra space? You can also consider the Prius v's primary competitor, the Ford C-MAX Hybrid. It offers more power, better handling and better mileage ratings, although some buyers have reported disappointing real-world fuel economy. The C-MAX also has less room for cargo.

Buyers willing to consider a non-hybrid vehicle should check out the Volkswagen Jetta SportWagen TDI, which boasts a well-appointed interior and a torquey diesel engine that returns up to 42 mpg.