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2016 Prius V

2016 Toyota Prius V

1.8L 4 Cylinder + Electric Motor 136 HP with CVT Transmission

Absolutely Red with Black Soft Tex interior

The photo gallery / slide show of the Prius

We are always looking forward to spending a few days with an hybrid. Although hybrids seem to have taken a back seat, we remain enthusiastic towards hybrids, and were excited to spend some time with this Prius V.

At a time when all sorts of utilities and trucks are capturing everyone's imagination for a multitude of reasons. While everyone is talking about autonomous vehicles as if they are almost around the corner.

Here is a Prius V which is the same size and usefulness as a utility vehicle, and with an adaptive cruise control that provides a glimpse into autonomous vehicles.

Lets call the styling unique, and purposeful and we all have our own preferences. Agreed the street presence immediately communicates that its an hybrid. The Absolutely Red augments the street attraction. Its not a sedan, or a utility, its an aerodynamic station wagon.

The interior is positively immense for the size of the car...its huge. Well executed, with good materials and finishes for the price segment. The fact there are no instrument panel behind the steering wheel reinforces that this car is different...its an hybrid.

All the features you expect from a power driver seat, navigation, back up camera, satellite radio, heated seats to name a few are present. The front seats are comfortable even on an extended trip, while the roominess of the interior augments a sense of overall comfort. The sound system is good, and we agree that blind spot monitoring should be present.

The rear seat is adjustable which makes rear seat leg room a non issue even for oversized adults. Everyone was pleasantly surprised with the back there is a ton of room back here. Lets not forget the full size panoramic roof.

The cargo area is more than adequate, and folding down the rear seat augments the versatility of the Prius V.

You can configure your own Prius

How does it drive?

Its an hybrid and in normal or eco mode we agree that its a little sluggish especially on surface streets. In power mode its as good as the majority of 4 cylinders with a turbo. The coolest is the EV mode which is totally quiet, and a great way to drive in your neighborhood streets.

Its not a sport anything, its an hybrid everything. From our perspective the steering is good for an hybrid, the brakes are regenerative and good for an hybrid, the same for the suspension. It inspires confidence to drive under normal conditions.

The sound of the 4 cylinder coupled to the CVT belies the performance of the car. You always think that you its "slower" than it really is. Observing the app that shows the interaction between the 4 cylinder and electric motor provides additional insight into what is really going on.

The highway performance is simply remarkable, its quiet, with a surprising reserve of power, accompanied by no down shifts. With the adaptive cruise control its a totally cool and enlightening highway experience, as well as comfortable.

Should you consider an hybrid? Obvious its you decision...with the higher number of 4 cylinders with a turbocharger, a 4 cylinder with an electric motor is quite similar.

Strada Talking Points:

  • Its functional and versatile
  • Positively huge interior space for the size
  • Superior highway performance
  • Seamless "adaptive cruise control"
  • Its faster than you think

The quick review...




CTS-V Coupe and MKZ Hybrid

Its not often that we get to review two cars at the same time, let alone complete opposites. When faced with such an opportunity its only natural to compare the cars against each other. In one corner we have the 2011 Lincoln MKZ Hybrid, and in the other the 2011 Cadillac CTS-V coupe.  

Both cars are similarly equipped, with leather interiors, power everything, Navigation systems, parking sensors, and sunroof just to name a few.  If this was a buff publication (you know the ones) you would expect the CTS to decimate the MKZ, and you would be right to think so. The CTS-V is a missile! Our comparison is not about 0-60 times or 1/4  miles, its the cars and, their purposes. Its about the bigger picture, of how two rival companies brought out the best in each other.

With a base price of just under $40,000 for the MKZ our tester had a the $7,400(202A) package which provides features such as adaptive HID headlights,  17’ chrome wheels, THX audio system, NAV and a 10Gb HD just to name a few.  The total price for the MKZ was $ 47,299.

The 2011 CTS-V Coupe starts at $71,500 the tester featured a few options  such as the Recaro Sport seats   that are heated, and cooled, this $3,900 options also makes the seat bolster adjustable via air bags, along with the cushion and lumbar. Aluminum sport pedeals are included when equipped with the 6 speed Tremec as our was. The last and final option was the suede steering wheel for $345. The total price for the V was $76,230.  

The styling of the Lincoln is very traditional and subdued. The lines are clean, almost to the point that the car blends in well, almost too well. This conservative approach can be a good thing, this car will not draw negative attention while appealing to a wider range of people. The V on the other hand is about as subtle as a sledge hammer. With aggressive and muscular lines, bulging hood, and 19’ wheels, the styling easily translates the capabilities of this car. Styling to this extreme is a personal preference of love or hate, its cool the CTS-V coupe is a niche car. The MKZ will draw some attention, although most folks will not give it a second glance. This car is a good balance of styling, street presence, and subtleness. The CTS-V attracts attention all the time, it can be good or bad, especially if you have a lapse in self-control.  

As expected both cars also drive differently. The MKZ is a smooth, comfortable, quiet cruiser. In essence it drives the way it looks, the steering is good, and brakes offer reasonable feedback. Its not a sports car, the suspension, and tires will remind you that when you do decide to get sprited around a corner or off ramp.  The V is the opposite,  steering is precise, the Brembo brakes can easily keep up with the power, the adjustable magnetic ride suspension offers great feel in touring mode, and will tell you which side the coin was facing in sport mode when you run over it. You will appreciate the MKZ on surface streets doing errands. On the other side when you are considering some spirited driving the MKZ will quickly dissuade you.   

Powering these cars is an ICE but that is where it starts, and ends! The MKZ a 2.5L  Atkinson cycle 4 cylinder with 156 HP and 136 lb-ft of torque, and assited by an electric motor that generates 106 HP. Power is routed to the front wheels through a CVT transmission. Performance in the MKZ is more then ample for passing and merging, and when crawling in traffic on a 400 series highway or in the city its a great feeling to see the tachometer go to zero while the letters EV appear. The MKZ is able to run in EV mode up to speeds of 70 KPH. A round trip of 120km, at average speed of 48 KPH the car achieved 5.5L / 100kms, its phenomenal fuel economy for a luxury car.

The CTS-V is powered by a supercharged 6.2L V8, with 9 psi of boost generating 556 HP and 551 lb-ft of torque.  Its the classic high performance package of serious power mated to a 6 speed manual transmission. The V makes quick… very quick work of on/off ramps, or passing slower traffic.  The amount of power available in every gear is amazing. The performance this car is almost comparable to a sport bike. At the same time, the saying that "it takes gas to make horsepower” applies.

Both car each in their own way put a smile on your face, and make you feel great.  



2011 Lincoln MKZ Hybrid

2011 Lincoln MKZ Hybrid

Ingot Silver Metallic with Charcoal / Chocolate piping leather

ICE: 2.5 L Atkinson cycle 4 cyl 156 HP with CVT transmission

Electric: 106 HP with 166 lb.ft of torque

Combined Rating: 191 HP

The photo gallery/slide show of the MKZ

When most folks think of Hybrids they usually perceive a small fuel efficient car, with the sole purpose of getting the highest fuel economy. This train of thought is followed by, they are usually not to well equipped since the finer things add weight (power seats, sunroofs, etc) they are styled in a wind tunnel, and it shows. 

Most people would think this until they meet the 2011 Lincoln MKZ Hybrid. With a base price of just under $40,000 for the MKZ our tester had a the $7,400(202A) package which offers features such as adaptive HID headlights,  17’ chrome wheels, THX audio system, NAV and a 10Gb HD just to name a few.  The total price for the MKZ was $ 47,299.

Styling wise the Lincoln is very traditional, sophisticated, and not overly aggressive.  The chrome accents that wrap around the grill, headlight, and side mirrors are a nice touch which adds character. The lines of the car are sharp, and clean. This conservative approach can be a good thing, this car will not draw negative attention, and most people will not be offended by the styling.  

The same approach continues inside the car where the styling follows the linear lines of the car. The leather is good quality, while the maroon piping ads a nice touch making the interior look upscale. This MKZ has the ambient light feature that lets you choose between 7 different colors.   The one option I would add is the extra wood trim in the car. The center stack, and console coming standard in the matte black plastic does not really fit in a car of class or price.

One place where this car shines is in the content. Everything that you could want in a car is present in the MKZ. The Ford MyTouch is easy to use, and the car does have a few extra buttons so you don’t have to go poking, swiping or shuffling through different screens to get from the radio to change a station and back to the nav screen like the 2012 Focus. The system like most Lincolns is intuitive, and easy to use.  The THX sound system with 14 speakers is crisp and clear, with more than enough audio power.  Like most cars in this price range the MKZ has dual climate control, as well as heated, and cooled seats. A cool feature of the MKZ is the cross traffic alert which notifies you when backing out of driveway, or parking spot if a car or even a human is coming, and BLISS lets you know if someone is in your blind spot.

Powering the MKZ is a 2.5L Atkinson cycle 4 cylinder that generates 156 HP, and 136lb-ft. assisting the 2.5L is an electric motor that generates 106 HP. The power is routed to the front wheels through a CVT transmission. Power in the MKZ is more than adequate for passing, and merging. When crawling in traffic congestions its probably one of the greatest feeling in the world when you see that tachometer go to zero and the letters EV come on. The MKZ is able to operate in EV mode up to speeds of 80kph. A round trip oon city/surface streets of 120 km with an average speed of 48 kph, the MKZ achieved 5.5L/100km, to put that into perspective many 4 cylinder compacts do not achieve this level of fuel economy.  

At a time when people think that acquiring an hybrid means that you have to compromise everything in the pursuit of that extra MPG. The MKZ goes to show that sometime you can have your cake and eat it too. 


 The quick review



2010 Lexus GS450h - It Swooshes

2010 Lexus GS450h Hybrid

3.5L V6 ICE  292 HP and 267 lb.ft. of Torque with eCVT transmission (6 speed).

3 Phase AC Electric Motor 197 HP and "instant torque"

Total Lexus Hybrid Drive is 340 HP and "impressive torque" (no figures from Lexus)

Smoky Granite Mica with Black Premium Leather

The photo gallery/slide show of the GS450h

When we heard that the Germans were on the cusp of launching their version of a luxury hybrid sedan, especially after the attempt at the mild hybrid from one of the German manufacturer. In a conversation regarding hybrids, we simply mentioned that whatever the Germans were going to offer, it had better have peel your face off torque. 

The Lexus GS450h has been around for a few years, the entire GS series seems to fly under most folks' radar screen, especially the GS450h one could quickly concluded that its a bigger Prius, or Camry Hybrid. Perhaps Lexus is being too discreet, and humble with this car.

You know that we have a passion for performance vehicles, horsepower, torque. You also know that we like hybrids, and we have mentioned on several occasions that electric motors have instant torque that quickly becomes addictive. 

An individual that is prepared to invest $ 71,900. in a luxury rear wheel drive mid size sedan is not financially concerned about fuel economy, this same individual is not seeking an hybrid for its fuel economy rating. At that price the individual wants a luxury sedan with all the features, seamless operation, accompanied by a strong level of performance.

For an hybrid the one thing you want is an abundant quantity of peel your face off torque. Especially that you can't really go that fast anymore (the consequences are dire), you are not likely to track a mid size sedan, but you can use instant torque all the time. You are trading top end performance which is seldom used, for instant torque that you can use all the time.

Instead of having a burst of top end, you can have bursts of instant torque, in a car that is discreet, does not attract attention, and quietly swooshes...its a Q ship

Yes...this GS450h got our hybrid passions glowing red hot.

The interior materials are good, fit and finish is flawless, the leather is soft and feels like leather (some leather these days seems to come from a laboratory). It has all the features you expect in a mid size luxury car, even the rear sunshade retracts when you shift in reverse, the parking sensors tell you in which direction to steer the wheel, the navigation system is relatively simple to use. The controls are adult oriented, with bigger than smaller buttons. The Mark Levinson sound system with 7.1 channel Surround Sound is crisp and clear. All the specs, features, and acronyms are here

When you are good at what you do you make it look simple! All the controls in this car look simple, and are refreshingly easy and intuitive to use. At this price level one gets critical, from our perspective the top portion of the dash and front door panels are austere, with a grainy finish which does not fit well for this luxury/price segment. 

Due to the 40 modules 288 Volt battery pack, the trunk size is diminished.

How does it drive?

Its a sport sedan, with impressive performance, a 0 to 100 a few tenths over 5 seconds. It has a CVT transmission that you can manually downshift, and upshift similar to a 6 speed, 18 inch wheels with 245 tires, AVS (Adaptive Variable Suspension), good brakes for the intended use of the car, an electric power steering that is fast and communicates what is happening between the car and the road.

Obvious that the car is solid, inspires confidence, does not lose its composure on broken pavement, and even urges the driver to get spirited.

The fuel economy rating is 7.8L Highway and 8.7L City per 100 kms.

Why you should consider, and experience a GS450h?

You are looking for a mid size luxury sedan with good performance that is responsible towards the environment. You prefer a conservative sedan, to a loud boy racer. You have come to understand that performance from fossil fuels is under pressure especially on vehicles that are driven daily.

The quick overview...

2010 Lexus GS450h