Toyota Prius+ (2012) Review
Toyota Prius+ (2012) At A Glance
Fortunately, Toyota knows a thing or two about hybrids, so the Prius+ is pretty good at what it sets out to do. This means good economy, plenty of standard equipment and flexible seating for seven people. It’s based on the previous-generation Prius, so it’s certainly showing its age, but if you favour practicality over excitement, the Prius+ is worth a look. Because it’s expensive when new, we’d recommend buying a used example.
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Even in this age of electrification, seven-seat hybrid vehicles are thin on the ground. We could point you in the direction of the Lexus RX L, but you probably don’t fancy spending the best part of £53,000 on a luxury SUV.
For now at least, the Toyota Prius+ is the best car in a class of one. The only seven-seat hybrid MPV you can buy. Given the dwindling popularity of the MPV, it’s likely to be the sole occupant of this niche for a little while longer.
Because it’s based on the previous-generation Toyota Prius, you need to ask yourself if you really need seven seats. If you don’t, the current Toyota Prius or Toyota Corolla Touring Sports would make more sense. They’re more efficient, nicer to live with and come with the latest tech.
Not that we’re about to declare the Toyota Prius+ null and void in 2020. Although it’s clearly on borrowed time, the 1.8-litre petrol-electric hybrid powertrain is smooth and relatively efficient, even if it can’t live up to the optimistic fuel economy claims of when it was new in 2012. Up to 48mpg is respectable, but we’d recommend a diesel car if you spend most of your time on the motorway.
It’s a good car for the city, where the excellent visibility, light steering and relaxed CVT transmission combine to make driving a stress-free experience. The CVT is frustrating and noisy once you’re beyond the city limits, but adopt a relaxed driving style and it’s perfectly adequate. It actually drives quite nicely – far better than you’d think.
Inside, the Prius+ offers seating for seven, although the third row is best reserved for children. Although it’s possible to slide the middle row of seats forward to provide more room for people in the very back, the Prius+ works best as a ‘5+2’ MPV. There’s a huge amount of boot space available with the third row of seats folded down, while the luggage capacity is positively van-like with all five rear seats folded down.
The cabin itself is a little sombre, with the dashboard, doors and centre console finished in hard-wearing materials. It feels built to last, but you won’t find any of the fancy materials you might see in a family car with a premium badge. A touchscreen infotainment system is standard across the range, but the display is small and dated.
Even the entry-level Icon model is well-equipped, but we’d recommend the more lavish Excel if you’re buying a used Toyota Prius+. In fact, we wouldn’t recommend buying a new Prius+. It’s too expensive and suffers from steep depreciation. Insist on a big discount if you decide to buy an unregistered example.
Is it worth the money? Based on the sombre cabin, the old powertrain, dull styling and cramped third row, probably not. But if you’re after a seven-seat hybrid MPV, this is your best and only option.