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Toyota Auris Hybrid Wagon: Are You Missing Out On Europe's Prius V Alternative?

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It's easy enough to find a hybrid these days, with plenty of automakers offering cars that blend gasoline engines and electric propulsion to one degree or another.

More difficult is finding a hybrid vehicle suitable for more active families, those with greater need for space and practicality. Where are the hybrid wagons?

Europe, it seems, where we drove Toyota's new Auris Touring Sports in hybrid format, on the sunny Balearic island of Mallorca.

Toyota says the Auris Touring Sports Hybrid (TS, from now on) is the "first full hybrid compact wagon" on the market. That market, in Europe at least, is typically full of diesel wagons.

The elephant in the room is the Prius+, which you'll be more familiar with as the Toyota Prius V.

In Europe, the Prius+ is a seven-seat vehicle, so there's no real overlap between it and the TS. You can see where this is heading: If Toyota decided to launch the Auris in the U.S. (unlikely, since the hatchback would tread on the Corolla's toes), the Prius V wagon would be the main excuse not to bring over an Auris hybrid wagon.

Similar under the skin

In terms of powertrain, the V and the TS Hybrid are very much cars with the same Prius parent.

Both use a 1.8-liter Atkinson cycle four-cylinder gasoline engine, paired with an electric motor through a planetary gearset. While Toyota claims the setup has been tweaked to give a more natural feel between road speed and engine revs, it's a system we're still very familiar with--the car can run using the electric motor alone, the electric drivetrain can assist, it can back out of the equation, and it can recharge using regenerative braking.

Anyone put off by the Prius V's drivetrain won't find much to tempt them here, and the Hybrid's 11.2-second 0-62 mph time and 109 mph top speed won't satiate the speed freaks.

However, the Auris is one of the quietest cars we've driven with this drivetrain, and while it still drones away under hard acceleration, it seems a little more muted than in other applications.

Toyota Auris Touring Sports Hybrid first drive, Mallorca

Toyota Auris Touring Sports Hybrid first drive, Mallorca

Enlarge Photo

50 mpg

It's also frugal. Over a test route comprising freeway, twisty roads and some admittedly traffic-light town driving, our car returned an indicated 50 mpg.

Possible inaccuracies with the trip computer aside, it doesn't seem like a difficult figure to attain. While we drove relatively economically, our co-driver made little such deliberate effort before going 1 mpg better over his own route, albeit slowed by a little more traffic.

That's better than the 40 mpg average drivers are attaining in the Prius V, according to figures submitted on the EPA's fueleconomy.gov site. Our disclaimer is that the TS Hybrid achieved that 50 mpg figure with only two passengers and little luggage. Load it up with a family and their paraphernalia, work the engine harder (and you do need to work it hard to make swift progress sometimes) and watch those numbers tumble.


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Comments (9)
  1. Ugly!

    I want the diesel D4-D powered Avensis wagon. If that car were available here in the United States, I would buy it.
     
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  2. I found the Prius V to be quite under-powered, so a car with similar weight and engine, and less cargo space, is not interesting. It's a shame, because the V is the only high-mileage family-hauling car out there.
     
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  3. Jetta SportWagen is a big family hauler with lower fuel consumption than the Prius V on the highway, and comparable fuel consumption in the city.
     
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  4. I've been tempted by them! But I have a Passat wagon now, and it's been horrible on repair costs.
     
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  5. If only mazda management would come to its senses and offer the mazda6 Sky-D sportwagon for sale...
     
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  6. I want a taller rear cargo clearance than a Prius V. The limiting dimensions for a regular Prius (2nd or 3rd generation, we've had both) for a boxy object through the rear hatch are about 2 feet high x 3 feet wide. Another 6 inches high would allow a 30" x 30" appliance or piece of furniture to fit. Although the V is taller, its hatch doesn't extend onto the roof and therefore its clearance is no larger.
     
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  7. This piece left me in a confused state. I do not get the point. The Prius is not a family hauler as to weights and speeds. Not a vehicle to pull a trailer either. We cannot ask a Cessna plane to do the work of a jet. A seven passenger Prius "wagon" sound very out of the spectrum of the vehicle. I have a wagon, a hybrid SUV. Discontinued in the Mercury brand it is a 2008 Mercury Mariner hybrid SUV. Driven well it achieves 33 MPG easily. This is much better than the Toyota hybrid SUV. So, to speak of extinct vehicles or the ones not available is rather a waste of time. From what I see every day, most US drivers are not focused on using less fuel. Their intent is to waste fuel by driving as fast as long as possible.
     
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  8. To clarify Ramon, the car above is a five-seat wagon. As is the Prius V, albeit a sort of wagon/minivan cross. In Europe, the Prius V is sold as the Prius+, and has two extra seats.

    The Auris Touring Sports' role is simply an Auris with extra space, just as any wagon based on a hatchback does. It just happens to be offered as a hybrid too - the car also comes with regular gasoline and diesel options.
     
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  9. I don't think people will change the way they drive to conserve fuel, but I do think people are more interested than ever before about fuel conscious vehicles. This is especially true for families, where crunching the monthly numbers clearly shows the advantage of the gas savings. But it is all about economics, and nothing about the environment. The extra cost of the hybrid tech needs to make sense financially over a reasonably short time period for a family to buy in. So far there hasnt been a hybrid family vehicle that gets a substantial boost vs its not hybrid counterpart. Going from 22mpg to 29mpg or 16mpg to 22mpg is just not going to justify $10K. If the Outlander PHEV ever makes it over here, that will be the one.
     
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