City Driving: 2014 Toyota Prius V Hybrid Review

2014 Toyota Prius V Test Drive

Toyota Prius V Hybrid Review

If you tend to drive in the city the 2014 Toyota Prius V may be the car for you. Not only is it a comfortable ride, but being a hybrid it will save you a ton on fuel. And with gas prices steadily on the rise this benefit will not go away any time soon.

I had the opportunity to take this car for a test drive last week and I’d love to share with you what I learned about hybrid driving.

City Life

First of all, I love the versatility that comes with having a car in the city. I spent many years when I was single riding my bike or walking to all my errands and while that might suit some families who have kids, it’s not for me anymore. Now that I have a preschooler it is more important than ever to get those errands done quickly so we have more time for play.

But I do try to keep the driving to a minimum because it is simply too expensive and not good for the environment.

City Driving

When we purchased our 2010 Kia Soul we were certain that we would save fuel with a smaller car and it would work within our budget. And while it is certainly not the worst gas guzzler, it’s not great either. We spend about $200 on gas each month. And when you’re doing a lot of city driving you waste fuel sitting in traffic. Not to mention the emissions.

Being stuck in traffic can be OK

As it happens, I was stuck in construction traffic several times during the course of the week we drove the Toyota Prius V, and crossing the Lion’s Gate Bridge also left me idling for more time that I care to document.

But driving this car lent an entirely different experience to sitting in traffic. It is unsettlingly quiet for someone who is used to a car that runs so loud, that more often than not, I have the radio on to drown out the noise of the engine.

Why is it so quiet?

When the Prius V is idling you are NOT burning gas. That means no harmful emissions and no precious resources are being wasted while you sit in your car, except time of course. But with the weather as hot as it has been in Vancouver, it was nice to sit in an air conditioned car and not worry about burning gas.

If you plan to hit Trader Joe’s across the line you won’t be stressed sitting in your car because you will never run out of fuel while you wait. We recently had the unpleasant experience of waiting at the border for more than three hours. That was stressful for many reasons, but one of which was we were worried whether we might run out of gas!

I can certainly think of better things to do with my time but my point here is the peace of mind you get while driving this car.

We mamas need more of that.

Getting out of the City

We walk as much as we can to do errands or take in the sights around the city in the evenings and weekends, especially when the weather is as nice as it has been. But sometimes we have to get out of the hustle and explore those things that are off the radar most of the time living and working here in Vancouver.

Toyota Dashboard collage branded

We took a day trip out to Emma Lea Farms in Ladner to pick raspberries. Of course, he did a lot more eating than picking.

raspberries on fingers

And Kitsilano beach is always a favourite. The outdoor pool is a fabulous place to take in the sights and cool off too. Our little guy loves to play in the water, no matter how much seaweed and silt there is!

Kitsilano Beach and lifeguard

Have you checked out Queen’s Park in New Westminster? They have a great water park with lots of shade on a hot day.

Queen's Park water park

Sometimes simply just hanging out at a different playground (we went to Bear Creek Park in Surrey) for as long as possible is a nice way to spend the day. There’s a ton of picnic areas here although the shade is hard to find. Bring your own tent!

Bear Creek Park Playground

We wanted to stay here longer but of course it was time to go home for a nap so we could go on our next adventures closer to home.

There’s plenty of space in the Toyota Prius V

There is plenty of room to be had in this car. I am 6′ tall as is my partner and we had no problem with legroom or headroom both in the front seats and back. Lots of cargo space left me envious as our Kia has next to none. We can’t really go far in our own car because, as you know, having kids requires a ton of space!

The back seats fold down leaving lets of room for trips to a certain furniture store for flat pack boxes, and plenty of space for packing up for summer road trips. We didn’t bring a lot with us to go berry picking but you can see there is loads of space in the back . And if you forget to bring bags to the supermarket, there is a handy compartment under the floor of the hatch that has a few compartments for your groceries.

I love that Toyota has thought of us mamas. They know we have stuff to store in our cars. From binkies to bottles to snacks and our phones, there’s a spot for everything. There’s a handy compartment to store your phone so you don’t risk spilling something on it while it charges, there are three cup holders, two glove compartments and more. To me it looks like they thought of everything.

 Toyota Prius V cargo space

Maximizing Fuel Economy

When you start driving the Prius V you’ll notice yourself paying more attention to how you’re driving. You’ll glance over at the dashboard to check how putting your foot on the accelerator affects fuel economy.

This can be distracting so I don’t recommend you do this often.

The dashboard is chock full of information from trip history to a built in map system that you don’t need satellite for and a display that shows you how the electric and gas are being consumed. It would be easy to spend all day talking about this.

Toyota Prius V dashboard

I can save you the trouble by telling you that when you drive light footedly, you save gas. And while this sounds obvious, what isn’t is that if you drive more slowly and accelerate slowly you can drive strictly on electric power until about 40-45 mph.

This is perfect for city driving where the maximum speed is posted at 50mph and if you get good at it you will burn next to NO fuel. You could actually drive this car for a month in the city if you’re careful without having to fill the tank.

This is due to the fact that the Toyota Prius V charges its battery itself when you brake to slow down and when you stop at a light so there’s no need to find  a plug in. I’ve noticed that Hybrid drivers do drive more slowly and now I know why. I don’t recommend this on the highway of course, but for city driving it is perfect.

Fuel Economy Comparison

2014 Toyota Prius V Hybrid

Total distance travelled during the test drive week ~ 326.9 km

Cost of fuel for the entire week ~ $30/20 litres at $1.40/l

Our Car ~ 2010 Kia Soul

Average distance travelled in a week ~ 250 km

Cost to fuel up our car ~ depending on the $/litre, approximately $50-$60 per week


We saved about $30 this week on gas and we traveled 76.9 kilometres more than usual.

How can you not like that?

While the cost of a hybrid may be more at the outset you will easily make up for the difference over a few years by saving on fuel costs. If you are a city driver this car will suit your needs.

And when you do decide to go on a road trip or day trip, you’ll feel better knowing that you will still save on gas and emissions. That’s better for the environment, a pleasure to drive and you’ll find you spend less time worrying about where the next gas station is and more time enjoying what really matters.

What don’t I like?

There are two things I would change. One is that I like a bit more acceleration off the start in a car. But perhaps that’s the old me talking. If I have my son in the back it becomes less important, of course. And the only other thing I would change if I were to buy this car is the colour. But that’s not really an issue right now anyway.

Other than that I know that when we are ready to upgrade our current car we will give the Toyota Prius V serious consideration.

Thank you Toyota for the opportunity to test drive the Prius V hybrid. We all enjoyed ourselves very much!

Child in car giving thumbs up


If you’d like to learn more about this car and other hybrid models from Toyota check out ToyotaBC.

Lee-Anne Ekland is mom to one feisty preschooler and your Modern Mama Vancouver Community Director. You can also find her on where she writes about a lot of other stuff that parents care about.

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