Big Guy Car Guy

The Big Guy Car Guy Report — 2000 Miles in the 2013 Toyota Prius V Hybrid

Toyota Prius V 2013 OWTK Test Drive #LetsGoPlaces

Test drives are cute.

You and/or your decision-making better half climb into something shiny. You adjust the seat and promptly sink into it like a manicured hand in an Italian leather glove. Each perky fiber of the impeccably clean floor mat stands at attention to salute the weathered soles of your tired feet. You don’t even remember that a car’s rugs could be THAT clean. There’s not a single grain of pretzel salt and nary a smashed up Goldfish in the crevice of the back seats. This is living, this is style. The inside of the car you don’t yet own smells like it just showered with a unicorn beneath a rainbow and inside a dream. The gadgetry embedded into the dash and onto the steering wheel is precious. You have no freaking idea what half of the buttons do, but you don’t care. You run your fingertips over everything. Maybe you begin to drool but your more rational and sensible better half helps to button up your bottom lip. She’s good like that. You start the engine and feel a tingle there. Yes, there. And then you drive the not-sure-we-can-afford-it-maybe-if-we-lease-to-buy-it? vehicle around the block a couple of times, you even hop onto the highway for a quickie to discover what she can do when you ask her for the world. In a flash, you’re sad-face-handing the keys back to the dude in the polo shirt and it’s time to talk or walk. We’ve all been there and we’ll all be back for more.

Toyota Prius V 2013 OWTK Test Drive Front Seat and Dashboard #LetsGoPlaces

This is how we decide whether or not to spend 15, 20, 30 thousand dollars.

Test drives don’t usually stretch across five states. But then again, this wasn’t your everyday test drive. The good folks at Toyota delivered a gorgeous metallic blue 2013 Prius V to our driveway on a Wednesday in November and we promptly, and I mean promptly (we left within hours), piled in for a whirlwind family road trip to see how the wagon version of Toyota’s famous hybrid did on vast stretches of blank slate highway squeezed between a nightly parade of long-haulers, in college towns with the snow fall making her blue shine sparkle, and in big cities with stops and goes and stops and we’re lost u-turns and too-tight parking garages. Oh, and flute practices.

Toyota Prius V 2013 OWTK Test Drive Room for Flute Practice #LetsGoPlaces

After 2000 miles, a half dozen dark chocolate and peanut Kind Bars, a pair of Usborne sticker books, a handful of LEGO and Playmobil mystery packs (some with less parts now than when they were opened), and 5 (yes only 5!) gas station pit stops, I could find not a single solitary flaw with the Toyota Prius V. None. That’s not exaggeration, because I didn’t want to love it this much, this fast. I didn’t want to be calculating math problems in my head about trading in the car we had just bought in March on a 6-year loan so that I might get to drive the red equivalent (I mean, c’mon, it is officially called ‘Barcelona Red Metallic’, I am totally helpless here!) of this magnificent automobile every single day. But there I was, with sleeping kids behind me and a groggy wife to my right, running those numbers somewhere along the Ohio Turnpike to see how and if I could pull it off. I freaking love the Toyota Prius V.

The ’13 Prius V is the most perfect vehicle I’ve ever been behind the wheel of (Ferrari 430 GT aside, of course.) It’s spacious enough for a 6′ 4″ dad up front and a growing 9-year-old, her flute, her sister, and stash of road trip paraphernalia behind. It is spacious enough for a half dozen medium sized pieces of luggage, a pair of laptop bags, 2 backpacks, and several extra accumulated plastic bags full of souvenirs, new clothes and other assorted goodies from college bookstores, toys from the toy & game fair, and trinkets from museum shops. It handled beautifully in the snow, in the city, on the highway, and everywhere in between.

Toyota Prius V 2013 OWTK Test Drive In the South Bend Notre Dame Snow #LetsGoPlaces

The Prius V is also a living, breathing science experiment that dazzles at every turn. This is good because we missed a regularly scheduled Science Sunday during this trip. No matter, the V more than filled in for our baking soda and dish soap experiments at home. The touch screen center console screen is as invigorating to explore as any handheld device of modern fancy and its navigation system (optional) is flat-out brilliant, guiding us sensibly into and out of Detroit war zones, South Bend diners, and our Hilton Garden Inn oasis in the center of downtown Chi town. But the most remarkable tiny-but-far-from-insignificant marvel came when I engaged the cruise control on the highway. The Prius V would slow its own roll and then accelerate again to my desired speed based on the traffic in front of us. This made for quite a hilarious scene at first because I couldn’t understand why cruise control seemed ‘broken’ and why I’d lose speed every so often. Of course, being me, I didn’t read any of the materials provided with the car. If I had I’d have learned that this safety touch is explained in pictures (language I can TOTALLY understand!) on the dash– that’s it in action below reacting to a car up ahead and reducing my speed automatically and sensibly.

Toyota Prius V 2013 OWTK Test Drive Cruise Control #LetsGoPlaces

This technological touch of genius made for uber relaxing highway driving at high speeds. That last bit is curious because going into a hybrid for the first time, I’d not have guessed that highway cruising would be 1) practical from an MPG standpoint and 2) smooth and enjoyable. But the mileage was strong (over 40 mpg we averaged for the trip) and while the giddy up wasn’t that of a Tundra, the Prius V kept its head held high as it blew past 18-wheelers in the snow.

The Prius V is everything a car should be: intelligent under the hood and intuitive inside the cabin, powerful but still earth-friendly, spacious but still compact, and very easy on the eyes.

*OWTK was provided a Prius V for about two weeks to test out during our road trip. I was not compensated in any other way and the opinions expressed above are honest and unbiased, as always. I really do lust for this car.

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