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Prius v first member of expanded family to go on sale in US; 58% more cargo space than original Prius, with 42 mpg combined

19 September 2011

2012_Toyota_Prius_v_Two_and_Three_009
Toyota expects Prius v to account for about 15% (incremental) of conventional Prius sales. Click to enlarge.

The new Prius v (earlier post)—the first of three coming members of the Prius family joining the original Prius in the US—will go on sale here at the end of next month. (The other two are the Prius Plug-in hybrid (earlier post) and the Prius c.)

The Prius v uses essentially the same Hybrid Synergy Drive system as the current third-generation Prius introduced in 2010, but will offer 58% more cargo space than the original Prius—resulting in more cargo space than 80% of all small SUVs, noted Toyota Division Group Vice President and General Manager Bob Carter at a media preview of the Prius family (minus the c). Despite the new spaciousness, the Prius v will deliver estimated EPA fuel economy ratings of 44 mpg city, 40 mpg highway and 42 mpg combined (5.35, 5.88 and 5.6 L/100km, respectively).

The Prius v will offer three configurations: the value-driven Prius v Two, the mid-range Three, and the premium-level Five. The base MSRP for the Prius v are $26,400 for the Prius v Two model; $27,165 for the Prius v Three; and $29,990 for the Prius v Five. The Prius v will arrive at Toyota dealerships in late October.

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Under the hood of the Prius v. Click to enlarge.

Hybrid Synergy Drive. The Hybrid Synergy Drive system in the Prius v uses two high-output motors, one 60 kW (80 hp) unit that mainly works to power the compact, lightweight transaxle and another smaller motor that mainly works as the electric power source. Maximum motor drive voltage is 650 volts DC. The NiMH battery pack is the same as on the third-generation Prius liftback, but with a cooling duct located under the rear seat.

As with current-generation Prius cars, Hybrid Synergy Drive is a series-parallel hybrid system that can provide power either from the engine alone, or the motor alone, or any mix of both. A hybrid control computer manages the system so that optimum power is delivered according to driver demand. It uses a start/stop system and regenerative braking to conserve fuel and recharge the battery upon deceleration.

Hybrid Synergy Drive is built around a specially adapted, efficient 98 hp (73 kW) 1.8- liter four-cylinder engine that runs on the Atkinson cycle and contributes to a total system horsepower of 134 (100 kW). Key components include an electric water pump that requires no belts, and an exhaust gas recirculation (EGR) system that helps warm the engine quickly, reducing fuel consumption when the engine is cold. Sophisticated valve control, injector design, and other technologies reduce emissions to allow the Prius v to qualify for California SULEV and US Tier2 Bin3 emissions standards.

Driving modes. In addition to the standard driving mode, Prius v drive system also includes an Eco driving mode, an EV driving mode, and a Power mode. In Power mode, enhanced mid-range response enables easier coping with slopes and mountainous terrain. In EV mode, the Prius v can run on battery power alone for short distances and lower speeds, up to about a mile. In Eco driving mode, the engine management system prioritizes fuel economy, managing throttle response and limiting power consumption from the air conditioning.

Pitch and Bounce Control. A new feature, Pitch and Bounce Control, works with suspension enhancements toimprove ride comfort and control. Because the Prius v is a larger vehicle more likely to carry loads and passengers, front and rear suspension components have been redesigned to improve handling and ride quality. Front coil-over spring and damper capacities have been significantly increased and a new upper support has been designed. The steering gear has been attached to the front suspension member, and the stabilizer bar repositioned for more responsive steering feel and enhanced ride comfort.

In the rear, a torsion-beam suspension design has been fitted with appropriately tuned springs and dampers. The new rear-suspension system is designed to help ensure stability and ride comfort, and it has a lower mounting point to improve luggage space.

Pitch and Bounce Control uses the torque of the hybrid motor to enhance ride comfort and control. The system, working with wheel-speed sensors and in tune with the suspension, helps suppress bounce and toss motions to improve comfort for occupants. Because it helps control the balance and posture of the vehicle as a whole, it also functions to improve handling response.

The all-new Prius v platform is designed with a force-absorbing body structure. Increased use of high-strength steel, notably in the front frame members, is a key part of providing a strong body structure without increasing weight. Helping to protect the cabin from side and rear intrusions are similarly engineered reinforcements using high tensile steels, all designed to disperse energy strategically throughout the vehicle to help protect passengers.

Like all Toyota models, the Prius v will feature Toyota’s Star Safety System standard, which includes Vehicle Stability Control (VSC), Traction Control (TRAC), Anti-lock Braking System (ABS), Electronic Brake-force Distribution (EBD) and Brake Assist. It also features the standard Smart Stop Technology brake-override system.

Aerodynamics and weight. Prius v has a low 0.29 coefficient of drag. Keeping air resistance low is the familiar triangular Prius silhouette, adapted to a larger size. A flush surface from the front of the vehicle through the front pillar works with side “aerocorners” for clean airflow. The smooth front sheetmetal blends into a carefully designed roof and cabin, leading to an optimized cabin-end shape that acts to converge side and roof airflow. Wheels and wheel caps are designed with aerodynamic effects in mind.

Further weight reductions come from the door panels foam-injected with polypropylene and the deck board with light-weight urethane producing a weight savings of approximately 20%. Significant weight reduction is also achieved through the use of high-tensile grades of steel throughout the body along with aluminum in key body panels and systems. High-strength steel sheets and bars used throughout the body to ensure a light, yet highly rigid platform structure.

Also available, and a Toyota-first, is a resin Panoramic View Moonroof with power retractable sun shades that provides an open atmosphere in the cabin with a 40% reduction in weight as compared to conventional glass roofs of the same size, and excellent heat insulation performance. This improved thermal resistance means the engine needs to run less to preserve comfortable ambient temperatures, which in turn enhances fuel efficiency. The moonroof has an electrically operated shade system with a jam protection function.

Spaciousness. The Prius v emphasizes overall proportion with spaciousness and flexibility. Interior space and good visibility have been assisted by a high seating position, ample head room, and a 38-inch couple distance, providing generous rear legroom. A low, wide-opening rear hatch reveals 34.3 cubic feet of cargo space behind the rear seats, making it the most spacious dedicated hybrid vehicle on the market.

Seating for five is specifically designed for young families. Sliding second row seats allow for easier ingress and egress and rear-storage flexibility, with a 45-degree recline for greater comfort. The 60/40 split, folding rear seats present four different seat arrangements that provide usability for passengers and luggage, while a fold-flat front-passenger seat allows for extremely long cargo.

New for Toyota, an available seat material called SofTex is designed for easy cleaning, resisting spills and wear in a family vehicle that could see heavy use on a daily basis. Soft to the touch, SofTex’s attributes as compared to leather and other traditional leatherette-type materials include a weight reduction of 50%, a manufacturing process with approximately 99% fewer volatile organic compounds (VOCs) than conventional synthetic leather, and water and stain resistance. It also does not include any animal-based material.

Connectivity. A Bluetooth wireless connection for compatible hands-free phone calls is standard, now improved by an automatic phone book transfer function. Also standard is a USB port that allows playing of music and video from portable audio devices, using the vehicle sound system and in-dash display screen, including full iPod integration.

The standard audio system has a 6.1-inch screen and six speakers; the screen also displays the energy monitor and fuel consumption data, and functions as the monitor for the integrated back-up camera and the Display Audio System. The screen also offers a new value-driven navigation system and serves as a portal for Entune.

Prius v will be one of the first Toyotas to offer the Entune multimedia system. This system leverages the mobile smartphone to provide a richer in-vehicle experience with fully integrated access to navigation, entertainment and information services.

Toyota Entune debuts support for mobile apps such as Bing, OpenTable, and movietickets.com, along with accessing travel-related services, such as live weather, traffic, fuel information (location and price), stocks, and sports. Toyota Entune also brings the largest selection of music options available to a vehicle, including iheartradio’s 750+ stations, and Pandora’s personalized music service.

September 19, 2011 in Hybrids | Permalink | Comments (13) | TrackBack (0)

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The standard Prius does 50 mpg which is at least 10 mpg better than nearly all other midsized cars. The Prius v does 42 mpg which is also at least 10 mpg better than nearly all other small SUVs and wagons. I think the Prius v could end up selling as well as the classic Prius. Toyotas problem is that they can currently only produce 5000 per month of the Prius v compared to 50000 per month of the classic Prius.

Limited trunk space in the classic Prius is probably the single most important reason that people who care for the environment still are not buying the Prius. The Prius v should change that and also it looks better than the classic Prius in my opinion.

To give up 10 mpg or 20% fuel economy for a bit more trunk space seems to be disproportionate. Did the total weight increase that much?

Should have put in a 3rd row seat. Even if only suitable for kids it would put this car in a completely different class.

and two more doors to make it an 8-passenger limo?

In our area, the average family has 1.5 children.

@HarveyD - Aero drag is up about 20%. The cD is up 12% and the frontal area is larger, too.

Prius width / height: 58.7/68.7 ~= 4032.7
Prius v width / height: 62.0/69.9 ~= 4333.8

So frontal area is up about 7%, too.

Add the two up and you are at 20% drag increase which is the predominant factor in highway fuel economy.

Weight is up about 10% as well which adds to the increase in fuel consumption.

The closest match to this car is the Mazda 5 which is rated 21/28 mpg or 24 mpg combined. The Prius v at 40 mpg combined completely blows it out of the water.

Each driven 12,000 miles a year, you'll use 200 gallons less fuel in the Prius v - that'll save you about $750 / year in fuel costs.

If this plugged in and had 3rd row seating it would be a perfect family car, IMO. Extra seats for when you need to transport the friends, extra room for family vacations and no gas for a substantial amount of your around-town driving.

I think Toyota will sell a ton of these even without the 3rd row seat and plug. Look at how many small SUVs you see on the road that never see the dirt.

People have been clamoring for an efficient family vehicle for a long time now - I wonder why it took someone so long to build one.

Just wonder which engine is cheaper to build:
the Prius 1.8 L Atkinson cycle, or 3-cyl 1.2 L Miller cycle one (supercharged), used in new Nissan Micra. Power and torque figures almost match (peak values given).
For the Nissan engine it's said:
The supercharger*2 is equipped with an automatic on/off clutch, which means that both high fuel efficiency and high engine performance can be achieved by automatically switching off supercharging while driving at low speeds, such as on city roads.
at http://green.autoblog.com/2010/07/19/nissan-introduces-1-2l-supercharged-di-three-cylinder-for-micra/
and
http://www.greencarcongress.com/2011/02/nissan-introducing-new-micra-with-supercharged-3-cylinder-gasoline-direct-injection-engine-95-gco2km.html

DaveR...thank you for the pertinent details. It makes more sense now. One way to compensate would have been to reduce the total weight by 20% or so.

@MG,
Positive-displacement superchargers aren't cheap, thousands of $USD a piece, plus reliability issue. Centrifugal superchargers are much cheaper (hundreds of $USD a piece) and more reliable, but don't give you enough boost at low engine speeds. To match the low-end torque of the 1.8 L Atkinson engine, an expensive positive-displacement supercharger must be used.

In foreign (Non-USA) markets, cars are often taxed by the displacement and/or cylinder numbers, hence this 1.2 L Miller cycle may be justifiable. However, in the USA market, stick with the 1.8 L Atkinson.

Finally, an HEV optimized for efficiency and large enough for the USA market has arrived. Previous HEV's larger than the Prius have been too expensive, or not efficient enough to justify the price premium, or too small trunk space.
This Prius v resolved all those issues. The European model even carries an extra row of seats. The $26K base model destined for the USA is very competitively priced with all comparable non-HEV's. The Prius v should sell very well...assuming that production line can keep up with demand.

@Roger,
Thanks, I'm learning here many things from experts.

@doggydogworld

The seven seat Prius is on the way. It will come summer 2012 when Toyota is ready to replace the NiHM battery in the Prius v with a more compact lithium battery that will allow for the third row to fit. Its called Prius +.

http://wheels.blogs.nytimes.com/2011/03/10/toyota-downsizes-prius-wagons-seating-capacity-for-u-s/?emc=eta1

Toyota seems to be planning various size/shape Prius in the near future for a much wider HEV/PHEV market. Prius will become a Brand Name like Lexus.

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