2012 Toyota Prius V - Fox 28: South Bend, Elkhart IN News, Weather, Sports

2012 Toyota Prius V

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Car manufacturers come up with all sorts of names for their cars.  Sometimes it's a series of numbers, other times it's a letter, maybe even a combo of the two. It's most often a name the car maker hopes will sum up the car in one word.

In a lot of cases, it may not make sense or you have no idea what the word means.

That was the case when I was handed the keys to a 2012 Toyota Prius V.

I came to learn Prius means "something that precedes or takes precedence."

In the world of "going green" and hybrid cars, the Prius certainly does take precedence.  Since 2000, Toyota has sold more than a million of the hybrids in the US alone.  

As for the "V" it does not mean "5", it means versatility. The new Prius is bigger and roomier.  It gets a 3 inch longer wheel base, is half a foot longer and about an inch wider.  It's actually offers up more room than some mid size sedans such as Toyota's own Camry.

When my Prius expert Mike opened the car up, I was surprised to see that much room.  This isn't the tiny compact hybrid you're used too; this is a load up the family with all your stuff and take off on a road trip.  All while getting 44 miles per gallon which is down just a tick due from the previous models due to the size.

There is plenty of headroom, more than enough legroom for backseat passengers and a very large hatch which gets downright huge when you fold down the rear seats.

If you're familiar with the inside of a Prius, a lot of it will look the same. It's built well and laid out nice with all the controls in the proper places.  But I thought the steering wheel felt a bit "plastic-y" and cheap.

What's new and very high tech this year is Toyota's Entune.  It's essentially an extension of your Smartphone.  Once you get it all linked up, there are a number of Entune enabled apps that allow you to do just about anything.  From finding restaurants, stocks, sports, traffic, weather… you can do anything your phone can right from the dash of your car.  The one thing to keep in mind is this, it uses your data plan, so if you do not have an unlimited plan, you'll need to watch your data use and your monthly bill.

As is the case with any car these days, you name the option and you can have it, including a panoramic moon roof.

This was my first experience driving a Prius so I needed a lesson on how to get moving.  You don't just put the car in "D" and go.  You need to remember the car is pretty high tech under the hood.   Once I learned the proper order of pushing buttons, moving sticks and pressing pedals, I was off and running. 

Outside of some clicks and whirs from the hybrid set up, the car is eerily quiet.  But if you press the little button and put the car into "Power" mode, that little 1.8 liter engines puts those 134 ponies to the tires and makes some noise. 

That was one of my concerns too, how was the car going to do getting into traffic and passing?  The 10 second 0 to 60 time won't win you any races, but it pulls enough to merge and stay up to speed with the rest of traffic.

There are two other driving modes to choose from depending on how economical and green you want to be.

If you really want to get in on the going green movement, just wait until 2013 when Toyota rolls out the Prius plug-in across the country.  Right now the car is only available in limited markets.

The "V" is fun to buzz around in.  When I picked it up, there were only 9 miles on the odometer it and it was averaging 26 mpg.  But the more I drove it; those mpg numbers kept going up.  The ride is nice and the car is pretty nimble.  But the looks of the V aren't for everyone so for those who need the style of a normal looking sedan or even SUV, Toyota offers hybrid version of the Camry and Highlander.

The Prius V starts around 26k and you can build yours here.

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