The world’s first seven-seat full hybrid vehicle represents another step forward in moves to combine green technology with practical, family-friendly motoring.

Always keen to push the boundaries, Toyota has also used a high voltage lithium-ion battery for the first time in a non-plug-in hybrid vehicle.

The Prius + is an extension of the successful Prius line-up and is designed to appeal to those who crave extra space for a large family, bulky luggage or a combination of the two.

On a recent family camping trip to the West Country, the flexible space created by the ability to fold down the back row of seats was a godsend, creating oceans of room in the extended boot for the tent as we cruised along the M5.

Another plus point, in terms of relaxation, came in the form of the DVD screens mounted on the back of the front seats, which enabled the children to watch cartoons on the long journey, warding off the age-old question ‘Are we there yet?’

In terms of looks, it’s a smart enough machine, although the estate-like rear end takes away some of the distinctive styling associated with the normal Prius. The 17-inch alloy wheels and tailgate spoiler are among the car’s more stylish features.

Behind the wheel, it’s a smooth performer, especially around town. The 650-volt electric motor is always working in the background to support the petrol engine, while the transition between the electric motor being the dominant partner and the petrol engine taking control is barely noticeable.To stay in full Electric Vehicle guise for any length of time, you have to put in a near-saintly display of driving restraint, for an enthusiastic press of the accelerator is sure to result in the petrol engine kicking in due to ‘excessive acceleration’ or ‘excessive speed.’

However, it’s useful for crawling along in stop/start traffic conditions or in 30mph zones without using fuel.

The vehicle’s all-round aura of calm refinement is only broken when you need to get a shift on. Under heavy acceleration, the Prius + lets out a somewhat coarse whine as a sharp reminder that it wasn’t designed with urgency in mind. That said, it will go from 0-62mph in 11.3 seconds with a bit of gentle persuasion, which is sufficient for most everyday situations.

In terms of handling, the steering is relatively light, making manoeuvres on tight roads or in car parks especially easy.

When driving briskly into tighter corners, there’s a bit of body roll to be aware of, but it’s generally a trustworthy car when cornering.

Official fuel economy levels come in at an impressive 64.2mpg although, as with most vehicles, the reality is not quite so good in real world driving conditions. During a 20-mile journey into Bradford, I managed an average of just over 50mpg on a variety of roads which included uphill and down-dale rural stretches, a spell on cruise control along five miles of the M62 and an un interrupted period in full electric vehicle guise on the steady downhill run from the Staygate roundabout to Hall Ings in the city centre.

Inside, the dashboard has an unusual, cockpit-style feel to it. A large and slanted console containing the easy-to-use infotainment system juts out in the middle, then falls away sharply to leave a minimalist area behind the steering wheel.

Instead of being located in the conventional position down to the driver’s left, the lever to select forward or reverse is mounted higher up on the central console. It takes a bit of getting used to but, once you do, it’s in easy reach of the driver and very user-friendly. The comfortable leather seats offer plenty of positioning adjustment for front seat occupants and there’s certainly no shortage of head and legroom.

In conclusion, there’s no question that this is a highly practical and efficient car, ideally suited to family use.


Toyota Prius +

PRICE: £29,930 on the road

ENGINE: Hybrid, four cylinder -in-line and 16 valve DOHC with VVT-i

EMISSIONS: 101g/km

FUEL ECONOMY: 64.2mpg combined

PERFORMANCE: 0-62mph in 11.3 seconds and top speed of 103mph



ECONOMY: *****


SPACE: *****



VALUE: ****