Test Drives

Toyota Prius+ 2018 Review: Wish Fulfillment



2018 is the year a hybrid MPV replaces the Toyota Wish, and the Prius+ is cheaper, just as spacious, and far more efficient than the former MPV king

 

Text & Photos: Derryn Wong

SINGAPORE

The King is dead, long live the King.

The Toyota Wish multi-purpose vehicle (MPV) is dead, which is not really a shock. The car Toyota has chosen to replace its once perennial seven-seater is.

What replaces the Wish is the Toyota Prius+ (aka Prius V in the USA, and Prius Alpha in Japan), a seven-seat hybrid MPV.

It was previewed at the Singapore Motor Show in January, and we expected to to join the MPV-rich Toyota line-up, which at the time numbered five models (Alphard, Previa, Sienta, Vellfire, Wish).  

What we didn’t expect was for it to take the place of the Wish. It was almost unthinkable that Toyota wouldn’t have a solely-petrol driven, down-to-earth, mid-sized MPV for Singapore.

There were MPVs that drove better, had more space, or looked far more interesting, but somehow the Wish simply became the Platonic ideal of an MPV – if Plato was 50-years old, Singaporean, had a family, and around $100k to spend on one car.

Plus (pun intended), the adoption of hybrids in Singapore has never been exemplary, and you can bet the Wish demographic are amongst the most conservative and price conscious of them all.

But it’s 2018, and not only have we seen a slew of new electric cars go on sale here, it’s also been proven that Singaporeans will buy hybrids if the price is right.

READ MORE: 5 Popular And Totally Untrue Myths About Hybrid Cars

The Prius+ isn’t a particularly handsome car, it looks a bit like a stretched Prius C crossed with a Sienta. In fact, we’d wager the mainstream clean looks of the Wish would come out ahead in a pageant, but that’s where the conventional MPV’s advantages cease.

The Prius+ is like the Millennium Falcon: It may not look like much, but it has it where it counts (see below): Its on-road performance is identical with the Wish, but it’s far more efficient, and has a $10,000 VES advantage.

SIDEBAR :MVP of MPVs
Prius+ vs Wish who wins when it comes to specs?
Prius+ Wish 1.8
Price (May 2018) $119,988 with COE $124,988 with COE
Length – Width -Height (mm) 4,645 x 1,775 x 1575 4,590 x 1,695 x 1,590
Wheelbase (mm) 2,780 2,750
Boot space (all seats up) 200 litres 186 litres
Kerb Weight 1,570kg 1,370kg
0-100km/h (seconds) 11.3 11.3
Top Speed 165km/h 180km/h
Fuel Efficiency 4.5L/100km 6.8L/100km
VES / CO2 A2 / 105g/km N / 159g/km
Power output 134hp (system total) 140hp
Torque (engine only) 142Nm* 173Nm

*Engine only, system torque values not quoted.

In fact, before the Wish vanished from Toyota pricelists, it was listed at $124,988 with COE, versus the Prius+ at $119,988 with COE. So even if the Wish were still here, it’d be costlier.

From behind the wheel, the Prius+ is exactly what you’d imagine, a mash-up of previous-gen Prius and the Wish. There’s game controller-esque Prius steering wheel with remote controls, an adorably tiny, high-mount gearshifter leaving space for a storage shelf underneath replete with USB/12V ports.

Unlike the Wish, the instrument panel – a monochrome LCD paired with color information display – is mounted toward the center and toward the edge of the windscreen, making for a more natural road-to-dials eyeline.

It doesn’t have the obvious sense of future-ness the current Prius does, but that might actually be a plus in this segment.

There are three buttons near the armrest (EV, Eco, Pwr; for electric-only, less power and more efficiency, or vice-versa) but like all Priuses, you can merely jump in, totally ignore these buttons, and let the hybrid system do its thing automatically.

Unlike the third-gen Prius from which the hybrid system is derived, the MPV has a lithium-ion battery tucked underneath the armrest, which is why there’s no super-useful, deep box for storage one typically finds in a seven-seater, and there are two stacked glove boxes to make up for that somewhat.

That’s been done for packaging reasons, vacating the space under the second or third-row where the larger a nickel metal-hydride battery would have had to be.

The trade-off of less under-arm storage is well worth it, though: Toyota says the car can manage people as tall as 1.9-metres, 1.8-metres, and 1.7-metres tall in the first, second, and third-rows respectively.

CarBuyer’s twin towers (1.85-metre tall designer Bruno and staff writer Jonathan Lim) fit in the second row easily.

The three-thrones with equal 33×3 split are individually adjustable for reach and backrest angle, and even with our two human beanstalks in the second row, I (just over 1.7-metres tall) could fit in the third-row without becoming human origami.

Like any proper MPV, you can mix and match the second and third rows to fit different configurations of humans/cargo, and a tonneau cover is included that stows behind the third-row when not in use.

While Toyota has no official figures for the boot space with seats folded down, the Prius+ has the advantage of a larger cargo area (200-litres vs 186-litres) and a slightly longer wheelbase so we can assume it has the likely space advantage, for people and cargo, over the Wish.

For the driver, the Prius+ delivers a fuss-free experience. There’s not much fun to be had obviously, but it doesn’t make a commute feel like cruel and unusual torture either. As a hybrid, with the gasoline engine in operation less, it has the edge in urban situations, but like the current Prius, it does have noticeable wind noise at highway speeds.

The suspension is the classic MPV setup, stiffer than you’d expect (to cope with a full load of seven) so it does get jiggly around construction sites, but the car does resist roll and corners neatly to an admirable degree.

There are some niggles: Like the Prius C there’s a bit more hard plastic on the interior than we’d like. There’s no aircon in the second or third row, but at least it does without the burden of a sunroof.

The Clarion infotainment system doesn’t distinguish itself in any way, and its blue menu buttons disappear in bright sunlight, but at least the steering wheel controls work well, and Apple CarPlay compatibility is promised in the near future.

But the great redeeming feature of the Prius+ is its fuel efficiency. Like any Prius, it’ll perform close to the quoted figures if you drive carefully, and even if you don’t, all but the most heavy-footed, environment-hating drivers will struggle to exceed 5.0L/100km.

Safety-wise, it packs one airbag more than the Wish (a driver’s knee airbag), with the standard driver, passenger, side and curtain units, plus a reverse camera.

As an MPV, the Prius+ certainly lives up as heir apparent to the Toyota Wish, but it’s not just because it has the space, flexibility, and unobtrusive nature that a mid-sized Japanese MPV should.

 

Considering where the world is in climate change, and even bad air pollution in Singapore, arguably it’s those with children who should have the biggest stake in responsible motoring.

We’re not saying parents should be the only ones either, but if I had kids, I would want the car I drive them around in to be good for them, or the least worst of, when it comes down to it. Car buyers in Singapore shouldn’t cling to old ways of thinking, but the Prius+ means you don’t have to pay ‘early adopter tax’ or lose money in the process.

Toyota Prius+

Engine 1,798cc, inline 4
Power 98hp at 5200rpm
Torque 142Nm at 4000rpm
Gearbox CVT
Electric Motor 71Hp
Battery Lithium ion, 1kWh
System Power 134hp
System Torque Not Stated
0-100km/h 11.3 seconds
Top Speed 165km/h
Fuel Efficiency 4.5 L/100km
VES Band / CO2 A2 / 105g/km
Agent Borneo Motors
Price $115,988 with COE
Availability Now

about the author

avatar
Derryn Wong
Has a keen interest in all things mechanical, technological, animal and mineral. Is particularly fascinated by eco-cars and cars which make no logical sense. An avid motorcyclist and photographer, he also enjoys cats.