Toyota Prius+ 1.8 VVTi T Spirit
Week ending August 30
Driven this week 70
Like many cars, the Prius+ has its pros and cons, but you wouldn't expect one of the drawbacks of a family-focused car to be its boot.
However, after several months' use I still haven't been able to come to terms with the big gap between the parcel shelf and the seats with my sons' child seats fitted to them, which could lead to unsecured items flying through the cabin in an accident.
The gap exists because the Prius+'s handbook demands that you remove the headrests before fitting child seats (this is necessary to get the child seats to fit properly), which leaves nothing for the extra fabric between the parcel shelf and the back seats to attach to; normally they clip onto the headrests' supports.
It's a problem that besets any MPV that both has a gap here to allow the seat backs to recline and requires the headrests to be removed to fit child seats. The solution would surely be to attach the parcel shelf gap-filler to another part of the rear seats. Right now, I just have to make sure that smaller, loose items are carefully stowed to they can't escape. Meanwhile, people often comment on how shallow the Prius+'s boot is, particularly with the parcel shelf in place, making it hard to fit anything bulky here.
This is partly because the boot floor is so high, at 68cm from the ground. It's definitely a con when it comes to fitting in holiday luggage, but as far as I'm concerned it's a pro for daily use because its height means I don't have to bend over very much to load anything in, saving my back and making less work of loading my kids' buggy or even just the weekly shopping.
By Alex Newby
Week ending August 2
Miles this week 89
The Prius+ may have successfully swallowed my family's gear for a week in a rented holiday cottage, but taking the kitchen sink was a bridge too far – for a recent camping trip we had to leave the Prius+ behind and take my husband's estate car and its roofbox instead.
In any case, this meant we didn't have to wrestle with the Prius's broken sunblind as well as our tent poles, or think about driving super-economically while negotiating unfamiliar roads.
It's a good job because even on my familiar commute I've not been getting my best-ever fuel return in the Toyota – old habits die hard and I've not been paying enough attention to my hybrid-car driving technique, with the Prius+ averaging only 45mpg on my last calculation, compared to 50mpg from the previous tank.
By Alex Newby