When shopping for a family car, the list of boxes your new car needs to tick can seem endless – big enough to fit the whole family, features to keep the kids entertained and multiple seat configuration to allow the car to change with your growing brood. On face value, the Toyota Prius+ ticks all these boxes, so our Digital Editor Jane got behind the wheel to find out more:
The first thing you’ll notice about the Prius+ is the space – whether you’ve got one car seat or three, you’ll find all the room you need for your growing family. With seven seats, the boot has a surprisingly roomy 200 litres of boot space with the rear seats folded up, which extends to 505 litres when the back row of seats folds down – big enough to fit most double buggies and your shopping.
The next thing you’ll notice is the generous legroom in the back – your toddler will struggle to kick the back of your seat on those long journeys, and if you’re taking it in turns to squeeze between the car seats, you won’t be left feeling too cramped. The middle seats can also be reclined and folded individually with just one hand, which is something every parent will agree is a well thought out extra.
The drive itself, is silent enough to let sleeping babies lie, especially when in Eco mode. What’s more, low emissions are the aim of the game, with the Prius+ achieving an impressive 95g/km of CO2 (or 101g/km in the bigger-wheeled Excel Plus).
The little details
As for the little details inside the car, Toyota give you three different options to choose from – Icon, Excel and Excel Plus. The Icon includes 16-inch alloy wheels, cruise control, climate control, heated front seats and Toyota’s Touch 2 infotainment system that syncs to your phone via Bluetooth.
If you upgrade to Excel, you get 17-inch alloys, sat nav, adaptive cruise control, reversing camera and an automated parking system. With the Excel Plus which I was lucky enough to test drive, you get the piece de resistance for every travelling family – airplane-style screens in the back of the drivers’ seats. Wave goodbye to those are-we-nearly-there-yet tantrums and plug your little ones into endless episodes of Peppa Pig on the move. The Excel Plus also has leather seats and automatic lights and wipers.
It’s worth noting, the entertainment package with DVD player systems is available on both the Icon and Excel as a paid option.
On the move
Toyota have really thought of everything, including the on-the-go view, with each row of seats positioned 45mm higher than the one in front. This clever feature also allows you to keep an eye on your precious cargo, even when they are sat in the furthest row.
Testing the Prius+ on a windy, freezing weekend on Bournemouth beach, the heated driver and passenger seats were a big plus, as was the option to fold down the third row quickly when chucking luggage in the boot.
With three different driving modes to increase driving efficiency, performance and fuel economy, you can tailor you drive to your surroundings with the EV, Eco and Power mode. When starting in normal mode, the hybrid system will automatically operate in EV, using just the electric motor to give a smooth and almost-silent ride. Above 31mph, the engine will kick in, making the EV mode perfect for town traffic.
The Eco mode, throttle response to the accelerator pedal is reduced, and the performance of the air conditioning system is adjusted to improve fuel economy. Depending on the conditions, Eco mode can cut overall fuel consumption by 10%, yet once you’ve loaded the Prius+ up, it definitely won’t be the speediest ride of your life with Eco mode engaged. In contract, Power mode increases response to the throttle by 25% to boost power and improve acceleration – you’ll hear the car quite literally roar into life.
Of course, one of the key draws of the Prius+ is the running costs – in real terms, the Prius+ is an affordable car to run, with a fuel economy of 68.9mpg or 64.2mpg depending on specification. Road tax will be around £130 for the year, and you’ll get free congestion charging in London, which could save you up to £2.500 per year if you commute within the congestion charge zone.
Overall, it might not be the most glamorous car on the market, but it’s a great buy for family life and will get you all from A to B safely, efficiently and quietly (both inside and outside the car!). For these reasons alone, it definitely gets the Mother & Baby seal of approval!