Crossovers are all the rage and Toyota knows when to join the parade. Thus the 2019 Prius V is morphing from hybrid wagon to hybrid crossover utility vehicle (CUV), if spy photos coming out of Germany are to be believed.
(UPDATE, 11/28/17: Toyota says it will cease production of the U.S. version of the Prius V.)
In the above shot of a test mule being put through its paces at the Nürburgring, the rear roof line – apparently borrowed from the Lexus NX for the prototype – is noticeably higher than in the current generation Prius V. That gives it a taller profile and a taller cargo area that the current generation Prius V. The wheels are larger, the wheel arches more flared and the overall stance is higher as well, leading some to speculate that there may be an all-wheel drive version in the offing.
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While a CUV’s boxier shape and higher ground clearance isn’t always the most aerodynamic package, often sacrificing fuel efficiency for utility, Toyota isn’t known for going backward.
We’d expect a crossover 2019 Prius V to at least match the current generation Prius V’s EPA rating of 41 mpg overall – 43 in the city and 39 on the highway.
The big unknown is what Toyota would do with the popular RAV4 hybrid if it does turn the Prius V into a crossover.
The present generation 2017 Prius V already is quite close to the 2017 RAV4 hybrid in many dimensions and it beats the 32-mpg (overall) RAV4 in fuel efficiency and has a longer wheelbase and slightly more headroom up front.
The RAV4, though, has more power – 150 ponies vs 98. But a new Prius V would get the new Prius hybrid powertrain, and that’s rated at 121 horsepower.
The RAV4 also offers a tad more cargo area at 35.6 cubic feet versus the 2017 Prius V’s 34.3 cubic feet. A 2019 Prius V crossover likely would negate the cargo difference.
The RAV4 also is 2.7-inches wider and almost four inches taller than the 2017 Prius V, although that’s ground-to-roof height.
More than an inch of the difference is accounted for by the RAV4’s greater ground clearance, though: 7 inches vs the 2017 Prius V’s 5.7 inches. A CUV-styled 2019 Prius V likely would close both the height and width gaps.
So does the RAV4 hybrid disappear if a bigger and more powerful Prius V crossover joins the lineup for 2019, does it grow into something else?
Or will there be sufficient differences to keep both models competitive?