Toyota Prius+ Review
The Prius+ is a seven-seat MPV that is capable of superb economy around town and can be cheap to run. However, it’s not so good out of town and some versions are very expensive
What's not so good
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As its name implies, the Toyota Prius+ is basically a bigger version of the Prius – a hybrid seven-seat MPV. That makes it an alternative to models such as the Ford S-Max or Vauxhall Zafira, although both of them come only with conventional petrol and diesel engines and don’t offer a hybrid model.
Even from the outside, it’s clear that the Toyota Prius+ is very much a part of the Prius range, and that family look continues inside. Drivers of the regular Prius hatchback will feel right at home in a Prius+, as the design is virtually the same. However, that also means that the Toyota Prius+’s cabin is dominated by swathes of grey plastic.
On the other hand, there’s no criticising the amount of space on offer. As you’d expect from a people carrier, it has loads of space inside. There’s plenty of room in the front, and reasonably tall passengers will be comfortable in the middle row. Even the third row of seats is reasonably spacious, although they’re more suitable for children than adults.
Fold down all the rear seats and you have 1,750 litres of space to play with – which is far more than in a standard Prius. In five-seat mode, the boot will take almost 800 litres – which is impressive – and although it shrinks to only just over 200 litres with all seven seats upright, that’s not significantly worse than you would find in any of the alternatives.
It’s a shame that the wheelarches intrude into the available space, but the rear seats do sit flush with the floor and the boot lip when they’re folded down, which makes the Prius+ easy to load and unload.
It’s no wonder that so many of these Toyotas get used as minicabs. With its seven-seat practicality, easy drive and low running costs around town, the Prius+ just the thing for any aspiring Uber driver
On the road, too, your abiding memory will be of how simple the Toyota Prius+ is to drive. It’s very relaxing, particularly when it’s in pure EV mode, and the instant torque, light controls and good all-round visibility make this a nice and easy car to drive around town.
Sadly, the picture isn’t quite as rosy beyond the city limits. The firm suspension means the car seems to fidget on all but the smoothest roads, while car’s relative lack of power is only too obvious.
Even the electric motor’s torque isn’t quite enough to supplement the small output from the petrol engine. And, when you try to accelerate reasonably hard, the CVT automatic transmission makes the engine drone away noisily. It soon becomes tiring on a long journey.
On the other hand, if you settle back into a more relaxed driving style, you can get very good economy from the car – particularly if you spend a lot of time driving around town. And those low running costs are the main reason buyers will be attracted to the car.
They’ll also be keen on the safety equipment in a car, which could well be used as a family car. Although the Prius+ hasn’t been tested by Euro NCAP, the generous amount of equipment (including six airbags, traction control, vehicle stability control, Isofix seat anchor points for child seats and headrests for front passengers designed to minimise whiplash injuries) suggests that the Prius+ could follow the smaller hatchback’s five-star score.
General equipment levels are good, too; and, with their low running costs, most models in the Prius+ range offer decent value for money. However, you need to part with quite a lot of cash for the flagship versions, so it may be worth having a look at less economical, but more user-friendly alternatives.
That said, in many ways, the Prius+ does impress; it’s a very frugal seven-seater that is practical and works well around town. However, it does have its limitations beyond the city limits, so some buyers will be better off with the more versatile alternatives with conventional engines.