For the first six months of 2012, the Prius was third in the global sales chart, trailing only Ford’s Focus and Toyota’s Corolla.
It’s been a meteoric rise for the Prius since it launched 15 years ago, and Toyota’s dominance of the hybrid market looks set to continue with the Prius+.
Toyota is keen to stress that this is a whole new vehicle from the ground up, not just a swollen version of the standard car.
Measuring 155mm longer, 30mm wider and 85mm higher, with a wheelbase extended by 80mm, the Prius+ is substantially larger, but the overall look is familiar. The front end gets a much wider, lower grille with sharp corners either side to improve airflow, while a roof spoiler reduces drag at the rear. It’s the higher, elongated roof that catches your eye, though, giving the car a classic MPV silhouette.
Toyota has capitalised on the extra interior space by cramming in three rows of seats, each mounted 45mm higher than the row in front, for a stadium view of the road ahead. Headroom and legroom are generous, even in the back row, which can comfortably fit a couple of adults.
With all the seats occupied, there’s 200 litres of boot space. Fold the back row flat into the floor and that increases to 505 litres, and with the second row forward, there’s 1,750 litres to play with. An extra storage tray under the boot floor is handy, while the tailgate opening is 95mm wider than the Prius’, making larger objects easier to load.
An all-new dash design features a more upright centre stack, with a large rotary dial for controlling the air-conditioning, a trademark miniature gearlever and the electronic parking brake. The centre console is reserved for a cup-holder, storage bin and buttons for the three driving modes – EV, Eco and Power.
This is the first Prius model – besides the plug-in Prius, to use lithium-ion batteries, instead of a bulkier nickel-metal hydride pack. The switch isn’t just about saving weight, either – the batteries slot neatly under the centre console, between the driver and passenger, so there’s no compromise to interior space.
Prius+ compared to Prius size.