Efficient, different and safe, reviewer Tim Barnes-Clay takes the family-friendly Toyota Prius Plus for a spin.
The Toyota Prius Plus looks a little sexier now it’s had a facelift.
The Japanese auto maker has given the eco-friendly people carrier a sharp new front end, with LED headlamps and LED rear light clusters.
Meanwhile, inside, there’s now a multimedia touchscreen with DAB, a reversing camera and Bluetooth.
And on higher trimmed Excel and Excel Plus models, Toyota’s "Touch 2 with Go" system adds navigation and connectivity functions.
These versions of the Prius Plus also benefit from tech features that improve safety and contribute to smoother and easier driving.
This includes Toyota’s Pre-Crash Safety system, which is designed to help you avoid a collision, or to reduce the consequences should a crash happen.
Behind the wheel, the instrumentation is still as bizarre as the Prius’ exterior.
The dashboard is a blend of all kinds of materials, with irregularly organised switchgear.
None of that, apart from some cheap feeling plastics is bad, though – just different to the norm. And that’s kind of refreshing.
When you think "Prius", cool, rock and film stars who want to save the environment perhaps come to mind.
But actually the Prius Plus is just as likely to be seen on the school run in suburban Britain as it is in Hollywood.
There’s masses of headroom and the seven seater car’s third row of chairs is no worse than many.
In other words, these extra seats are for kiddies only – not adults. No big deal there.
With those two child-friendly seats folded into the load floor, the resulting boot space is decent, albeit shallow.
With all five seats folded down there’s a really practical long surface, with enough space for a trip to buy lots of tall furniture at IKEA, and other similar stores.
In the middle row, each individual seat can glide forwards and backwards, and the outer ones tip forwards so your kids, or kids’ friends, can access the third tier.
Low emission motoring
Under the bonnet, there’s a 1.8-litre petrol engine mated to an electric motor.
A battery pack provides the "green" power, supported by an engine-driven generator when possible.
The basic car will do an official 68.9mpg, when fitted with 16-inch wheels, but of more interest is the CO2 output of 96g/km, meaning you won’t have to pay road tax in the UK – at least for now.
On the move, the Prius Plus skates away in ghostly silence under electric power - then the petrol engine kicks in with a noticeable thrum when the pace picks up.
A family favourite
That said, the car’s continuously variable transmission (CVT) automatically and seamlessly changes through the gear ratios, making driving effortless.
The Toyota doesn’t exactly rock when it comes to handling – with noticeable lean through country lane corners and light steering at motorway speeds.
However, it never feels unsafe – which is the least you should expect of a people carrier.
For enthusiasts of low emission motoring who have gone on to have a family, then, short of pedal power, this is a great way to transport the rug-rats to school and further afield.
The Toyota Prius Plus is a truly realistic motor, albeit not the most thrilling of people carrying machines on the market.
But, for its green, yet powerful talents, this Toyota is a car many more British families are likely to take to their hearts.
Pros & cons
- Efficient √
- Different √
- Safe √
- Spacious √
- No thrills X
- Pricey X
- Max speed: 103 mph
- 0-62 mph: 11.3 secs
- Combined mpg: 68.9
- Engine layout: 1798cc 4 cylinder 16v petrol + electric motor
- Max. power (bhp): 134
- Max. torque (lb/ft): 257
- CO2: From 96 g/km
- Price: £26,995
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