I spent this morning at a ride-and-drive event for the newest member of the Toyota Prius family—the Prius v—and came away duly impressed with its fuel efficiency. In about 40 miles of driving, some of it in stop-and-go traffic and none of it on the freeway, the plus-sized Prius turned up about 43.7 mpg—which is actually a bit better than the 42 mpg combined Toyota expects to see from the EPA. Now, some at the event thought that represented a surprisingly steep drop-off as compared to the standard Prius, which rings up a 50-mpg combined mark, but it certainly represents a huge improvement over a segment explicitly targeted by the Prius v: smallish crossovers.
That's a segment still waiting for the kind of wholesale jump in fuel efficiency that has made 40 mpg the new benchmark on the car side of the business, so there's a huge window of opportunity here. The question is: Does the Prius v have what it takes to take advantage of the situation?