Toyota Prius+ Review & Ratings
- 15 February 2018
- Author: Nikolas Perseputto
When the Toyota Prius+ arrived on our long-term fleet a year ago, it sounded like the answer to many families’ dreams: the same fuel-saving hybrid technology as the original Prius, but with more space and practicality, including two more seats that pop up from underneath the boot floor. added to this came toyota’s renowned vehicle reliability. In fact, it took considerable effort to get anywhere near the car’s official fuel economy of 64.2mpg. Combining all the usual green driving methods with a hybrid-friendly lift of the right foot (to encourage the car to switch over to battery power) was pretty tricky to do on busy roads or with children screaming in my ears.
This may explain why I averaged around 44mpg with just two kids on board; seven up it would have been even less. however, that’s more than you’d get from driving most petrol cars on the same urban routes, and the Prius+ has none of the problems with clogged particulate filters that dog town-dwelling diesels. Unfortunately, the Prius+’s hybrid technology works only below 45mph, and it wasn’t the best motorway car for little kids in any case.
It felt reassuringly stable to drive and there was enough power for most situations, but there was so much road and wind noise that I had to turn the stereo right up for my boys to hear it – then turn it down if we wanted to talk. our model included sat-nav and a higher-spec stereo and touch-screen infotainment system than on the lower trim level, plus black leather upholstery, which proved a godsend with a toddler on board, as it was easy to wipe clean. It still didn’t feel like a £30,000 car, though; the grey cabin materials felt cheap and the dashboard looked pretty dated. I liked the graphic showing the car’s real-time energy consumption, but looking at it meant taking my eyes off the road for too long. there were some silly design faults, too, such as the daylight glare off the touch-screen that often made it hard to see the sat-nav, and the fact there’s no handle for the light grey boot cover, which meant it looked badly worn and stained after just a year’s family use.
I also struggled to get used to the reversing camera, with its distorted fish-eye image that made it hard to gauge the exact distance of the car behind; audible sensors are a dealer fit option, though.
My children loved the car’s panoramic sunroof, so it’s a pity toyota have now made it a £850 option (while changing the ‘t-Spirit’ name to ‘excel’), without reducing the car’s price. the cabin proved wonderfully spacious for my small family, but although the boot was the same shape as a small estate car’s, its high floor limited the amount of luggage we could get in without removing the boot cover. With young children on board, the promise of seven seats also had its caveats.
The centre seat in the middle row was too narrow to fit a friend’s child seat between my kids’ models, even though all three were among the slimmest on the market; a narrow booster cushion in the middle solved the issue. It was tight for an adult to sit between two child seats, too. Meanwhile, I was surprised to read in the Prius+ handbook that any middle-row car seat carrying a child seat had to be slid back to its rear-most position. this left no legroom for anyone sitting in the pair of seats behind.
Officially, toyota has an excellent reliability and service record, but I had a less than satisfying experience. one after the other, both rear sunblinds refused to retract into the rear doors. Both were fixed under warranty but the repairs involved several visits to my local toyota centre, Currie Motors in Brentford, and I didn’t once receive an apology from the dour service staff. overall, the Prius+ had too many foibles to make a great family car, but as fuel-saving transport it has its merits, provided you think the savings you’ll make at the pumps will justify the £30,000 price.