We’ve got the Toyota Prius+ – Toyota’s seven-seat MPV take on the Prius Hybrid – in for review and test. Is a seven-seat Prius a practical consideration?
Many thought Toyota’s obsession with Hybrid cars was a folly, but over the years since the Prius arrived – almost 20 years now – the Prius has not only got more refined and appealing, its technology has given Toyota a real edge over car makers previously obsessed with diesel engines.
It might seem a slightly odd move by Toyota to stretch the Prius to accommodate seven seats in a world which really wants an SUV (and a Prius SUV is still expected to arrive next year) but it does give Toyota the kudos of offering the only hybrid MPV on the market.
Can a seven-seat Prius really be a practical option for families, or is Toyota just trying to cover every bit of the niche the Prius has carved out for itself?
Let’s find out.
Toyota Prius+ Inside and Out
But, especially side on, the Prius+ is different, and its higher roofline does give it the look of an MPV, and despite a relatively modest increase in wheelbase and overall length, Toyota has managed to fit the extra couple of seats in the third row, and make them usable.
You wouldn’t want to spend much time in them if your real person size, but they’re just fine for little uns and the occasional emergency adult, and there’s a decent amount of headroom on offer too.
The price you pay for using the third row of seats is a modest 200 litres of space for stuff, but with the third row stowed away that rises to a much more useful load area. Put both back rows down and it’s almost a small van, and one with a decent opening too.
The dash is familiar Prius territory, with a dinky gear knob sticking out of the dash, instruments front and centre and plastics which look like they’ll last forever but which aren’t the last word in tactility.
This Excel Plus Hybrid model comes with a decent spec including Toyota Safety Sense with all its safety tech, Climate, Cruise, auto lights and wipers, Sat Nav, rear-view camera, Park Assist and more. In fact the only extra Toyota has added to this car is metallic paint at £545.
The Prius+ is, just like the Prius, a statement, perhaps quirky, design, keen to shout that it’s a bit different. But in all the ways that matter it still delivers a car you can live with, inside and out, every day.
Toyota Prius+ On the Road
Under the bonnet sits the Prius ‘self-charging’ hybrid powertrain you’d expect with a 98bhp terol engine combined with an electric motor for a total output of 134bhp, with the electric motor powered by a lithium-ion battery pack.
Performance, as you’d expect, isn’t stellar, with the Prius+ getting to 62mph in a fairly leisurely 11.3 seconds, and a CVT gearbox which doesn’t encourage you to make the most of what performance the Prius+ can muster.
Try treating it as an elongated hot hatch, blat round back roads and stick your foot to the floor when the lights turn green ,and you’ll hate the Prius+. It will make progress, it will go round corners (with a bit of ‘lean’ and a tendency to push wide), steer accurately (if devoid of feel) and brake competently. But if that’s what you want you don’t want to be looking in this direction.
But if treat the Prius+ in the way it’s designed to be driven it will reward you. It will reward you by making decent progress, trickle through congested urban roads with absolute alacrity and do it all quietly and comfortably, even when you have car full of passengers and stuff.
And let’s not forget, in a world which is quickly falling out with diesel-engined cars, the Prius+ is the only seven-seat self-charging petrol hybrid you can buy.
Toyota Prius+ Verdict
The Toyota Prius has always been a ‘different’ car to Toyota’s mainstream models, and even with the latest fourth generation Prius – and this Prius+ – that’s still very much the case.
The Prius had its time in the sun when there really was no other choice if you wanted a hybrid, and despite more conventional hybrid models now proliferating across the Toyota range – and outselling the Prius – Toyota do seem intent on keeping the Prius alive, and offering it in a way to fill as many niches as they can.
And despite the Marmite interior and exterior of the Prius – still shouting ‘I’m Green’ after all these years – there’s a lot to like about the Prius+.
Driven as it’s designed to be driven – moderately, preferably in slow traffic, is probably the best description – it really will serve you well in urban traffic, shuffling along in a quiet and comfortable way and returning anything up to 60mpg.
In the Prius+ you will also be able to do that with six passengers on-board and they will all be comfortable enough for it not to be a chore, and its size makes it much more manageable in urban environments than a big seven-seat SUV would be.
So if you have little interest in the ‘Drive’, need to drive more than five-up on a regular basis, spend most of your time in town and like the idea of a self-charging hybrid and on-display ‘Green’ credentials, the Prius+ may very well suit you perfectly.
Toyota Prius+ Excel Plus Review Photo Gallery
Toyota Prius+ Review Tech Specs
- Engine: 1798cc Hybrid: 134bhp
- Performance: 0-62mph 11.3 seconds / Top Speed 103mph
- Economy: 57.6mpg – Official / 49.4mpg – Test
- Emissions: 112g/km
- Price: £30,175 – Price as Tested £30,720
- Test car supplied by Toyota UK