Singapore - Before I rattle on, the Toyota Prius+ isn’t an MPV version of the standard Prius though, its built on a separate platform and only shares its engine, electric motor and transmission with the the current generation model.
However on that note, the performance of both cars have been tuned differently too to suit their different needs and uses for either. Whilst the Prius’ petrol engine will only cut in at the latest possible opportunity to maximise efficiency, the Prius+ gets its petrol boost coming in much earlier - probably in anticipation of ferrying a far heavier load of passengers.
That said, the Prius+ is still an amicable attempt by Toyota in making a mainstream hybrid MPV that would surely tempt buyers with its practicality, decent looking exterior (unlike the curious-looking Prius) and of course its exceptionally low running costs. I clocked 650km on a 43-litre tank of gas and was ferrying a full load of seven adults on several occasions during the test-drive stint.
As a hybrid, I was expecting better FC results similar to the standard Prius at least as the sedan version was capable of over 800km on a full tank of petrol. Here’s where the differences sort of end, the cabin itself has been laid out nearly identical to the Prius sans for the taller ride height of course, everything else looks and feels about the same.
The two additional seats on the third row would easily take two full grown adults but not for long distances as cars of these category don’t usually provide sufficient legroom, as such it would be best to leave really naughty children in that row or just regulate it to that noisy relative that you really don’t like to have a conversation with.
Over here in Singapore, the Prius+ has effectively replaced the ageing Toyota Wish as the seven-seater MPV of choice, not to mention its a lot more efficient than the Wish’s naturally aspirated power plant. The Prius on the other hand has a similar 1.8-litre NA inline-four with an electric motor, the car has been rated with 98hp and 140Nm of torque with a 0-100km/h time of just 11.3 seconds.
Its not fast, but then again what’s the true purpose of buying an MPV? Space that’s what you need when you decide to plonk down cash to buy one and the Prius+ has this in spades. The rear boot with the third bench folded is a cavernous 1,750-litres.
On the move, the Prius+ does a reasonable job of balancing its high CG to the best of its abilities while trying to juggle being an efficient hybrid and yet carry seven adults at the same time. It is pretty capable in this aspect if you think of it as a mode of transport to ferry as many people as possible using the least amount of fuel.
Ride quality is questionable though as the suspension seems a tad too soft and bouncy that left some of my passengers feeling rather queasy over long distance drives. Another bone to pick though would be the lack of refinement, the CVT transmission makes the engine drone nearly endlessly at higher speeds plus that doesn’t seem to be enough sound proofing as I could hear rather clearly just about everything on the road.
Thus if you are looking for a MPV that accommodates seven and fuel efficiency is at the top of your mind, the Toyota Prius+ would be your best bet.