£26,995 - £31,245 Price range
64 - 68 MPG
The standard Prius is one of the best-selling hybrids, so it was only a matter of time before Toyota made a people carrier version to capitalise on its success.
The critics near-unanimously agree that it’s a decent family car, with its incredibly low, class leading running costs.
However, it’s worth pointing out that quite a few of the negative traits that plague the standard Prius remain in this seven-seater.
This will be disappointing to those keen to take advantage of the diversification of this well known hybrid, who may reasonably expect a company as significant as Toyota to improve upon any imperfections when designing a new model.
Existing Prius drivers will feel right at home in the cabin of the Prius+, as the design is virtually the same; even the steering wheel have been carried over.
The only noticeable change to the centre console is the addition of a new digital screen, but sadly the end result is that the Prius+’s cabin is dominated by swathes of grey plastic.
Space is, as you’d expect from a people carrier, generous. There’s plenty of room up front, and the taller amongst you will be comfortable in the middle row. The two additional seats are a decent size, though all the critics agree they’re more appropriate for children than adults.
Thanks to a wider tailgate and a heady 1,750 litres of boot space once the seats have been folded, the Prius + is appreciably more practical than the standard car. Even with the two rearmost seats in place, there’s still around 200 litres of space for luggage, although this is hindered a bit by the intrusive wheel arches.
As both the Prius and Prius+ share the same hybrid drivetrain, they handle very similarly, which is to say it’s unexciting but suitable relaxing, especially when it’s in pure EV mode.
All the critics agree that the instant torque, light controls and very good all-round visibility make the Prius+ a brilliantly easy drive around town.
On the open road its firm suspension gives it a fidgety ride, although body roll is kept to a minimum, and the handling is reasonably precise.
Unfortunately, if you wanted to take a fully laden Prius+ on a long distance cruise, the story is altogether less rosy, as a noisy engine and low refinement overall make it a relatively uncomfortable experience.
The Prius+’s engine is the same as the one you find in the normal Toyota Prius; a 1.8-litre petrol unit that produces 97hp and an electric motor that has a 60kW output.
The electric motor’s fairly meaty torque output is available from the moment you apply the throttle, which does help hide the car’s bulk when zipping around town.
However, at higher speeds, the lack of power on tap is noticeable, and even the electric motor’s torque can’t quite supplement the small output from the petrol engine. The CVT automatic transmission (which works a bit like a scooter’s automatic gearbox) was also criticised, with one reviewer saying the noise it generated was unacceptably intrusive.
Of course, the main point of the engine is to make it cheap to run. The most you’ll ever pay in tax is £20 per year, and Toyota claim it’ll do nearly 70mpg, so to some people the sub-par performance may be excusable.
The Toyota Prius+ has yet to be tested by Euro NCAP in crash tests, but the smaller hatchback attained a five star score, and as Toyota have a good record of building safe and strong cars, there shouldn’t be any reason to feel worried about the Prius+.
Standard cars have six airbags, traction control, vehicle stability control, Isofix seat anchor points for child seats and headrests for front passengers designed to minimise whiplash injury.
You can also choose kit that stops the car rolling back when performing hill-starts, and a system that maximises braking efficiency in an emergency situation and warns drivers behind you that you are slowing down rapidly.
In some ways the Prius+ offers decent value for money – a frugal seven-seater available for just over £26,000.
Equipment levels are good, especially on the T-Spirit models, and you should get a fair bit of your money back when you sell it as residual values for hybrids remain rock steady.
The Prius+ also comes with separate warranties for the batteries and the rest of the car, and as mentioned earlier, running costs should be incredibly low.
However, you need to part with quite a lot of cash for the flagship Prius+ models, upwards of £33,000, and these are not tax exempt, so for some buyers it may be worth having a look at the less economical, but more user-friendly competition.
The Prius+ was built on its own bespoke platform, so directly comparing it to the normal Prius isn’t really fair, although similarities have been drawn in this review.
In many ways, the Prius+ does impress; it’s a very frugal seven-seater that is practical and works well around town. The oddity of the hybrid drive-train means that the car is often more efficient when being driven slowly around built up areas, which makes it truly unique amongst diesel competitors.
However, it does have its limitations when outside city limits, and some buyers may be drawn to the more versatile diesel competitors that are more usable and less restricted in a wider range of driving conditions than the Prius+’s hybrid drivetrain.
That said, the Prius+ is still by no means a shabby car, and it would be hard to discourage someone from choosing it. But it would be wise to look at non-hybrid people carriers like a Ford S-Max or a Vauxhall Zafira Tourer, just so you can hand-on-heart say the Prius+ is the car for you.