Subaru levorg VS Toyota Prius V
- Roomy five-seat wagon
- AWD + EyeSight = safety plus
- Great entry level engine
- Poor ride
- Now an old platform
- 2.0-litre can be thirsty
Toyota Prius V
Subaru took its slow-selling Levorg five-door, five-seat wagon back to the drawing board in 2017, refreshing the line-up to include two models that offer a new-to-the-brand 1.6-litre turbocharged four-cylinder engine and lowering the car's entry price point as a result.
Will it give the Levorg a new lease on life?
|Engine Type||1.6L turbo|
|Fuel Type||Premium Unleaded Petrol|
Toyota Prius V
I could use three words to describe this car: Toyota, family, hybrid… A fourth word comes to mind, which begins with 'b' and ends in 'oring'…
That might seem harsh, but this isn’t what I’d describe as an aspirational purchase. If you do aspire to a Prius V, though, you’re probably either a hardcore Toyota fan, someone who has a large family, or someone who likes hybrids.
But then again, if you are a potential Toyota Prius V buyer, you could also be one of the smarter examples of our species. While only about 3000 Aussies have chosen a Prius V since it went on sale in 2012, it’s a very, very clever option for family buyers who want to do their bit for the environment, not to mention their own hip pocket.
The Prius V is the most affordable seven-seat hybrid vehicle on the market, and in terms of price, it competes with mainstream models like the Honda CR-V, Mitsubishi Outlander and Nissan X-Trail. But what about space? Practicality? Performance? Let’s take a deeper look, shall we?
|Fuel Type||Hybrid with Regular Unleaded|
It's easy to suggest that the Levorg is simply an Impreza wagon (and the 2.0 is a WRX wagon to boot) – but it's not quite the case. The Impreza has now moved onto a new, improved platform, which has left the older generation Levorg in its wake.
With its line-up saturated by wagons, Subaru is finding the Levorg a tough sell, though the new entry level model is a step in the right direction.
Ultimately, though, the relatively inferior ride comfort of the Levorg may well be the element that plays against it the most.
The sweet spot in the range in this case is the entry level 1.6 GT. With better ride and handling than even the range-topping 2.0 STI Sport, a punchy yet economical engine and attractive pricing, it's definitely worth a look.
If you're looking at Subaru wagons, is the Levorg on your list?
Toyota Prius V7.1/10
No, the Prius V isn’t exciting. But it does what it’s designed to do - move families in decent comfort without using much fuel. And if that’s what gets your (hybrid) motor running, then you really ought to take a closer look.
Would you consider a Toyota Prius V over a more conventional seven-seat SUV? Let us know in the comments section below.
From the front, the Levorg is almost a direct mimic of the brand's Impreza and WRX, especially with the bird-swallowing bonnet scoop that's used on all four cars. The front end has been lightly tweaked for the 2017 upgrade, but it's still obvious which car the Levorg has morphed from.
The rear end is different, of course, and it's something that needs to appeal to the eye of the beholder. It's strong, prominent and almost bulbous from some angles, yet very resolved and flowing when looked at from other directions. There's no body kit, as such, as it's all integrated into the car.
The large overhangs – the distance between the wheels and the outer edges of the bumpers – aren't especially handsome, though, while its high-waisted sides can make the alloys disappear into the fenders. The low ride height helps here, but also means the Levorg is an on-road proposition only.
On the interior side, if you've seen the last model Impreza, then you'll know what the Levorg looks like; a clean, almost underwhelming layout with clear, well laid-out controls, while the extra dimensions of the wagon style gives the cabin a lighter, airier feel.
Toyota Prius V
The world was a different place when the Toyota Prius V came out. Back then, the iPhone 4s was at the cutting-edge in phone design, Gangnam Style was smashing it on the charts, and car design was in a very different place.
There are some signature Prius elements, with a swept, aerodynamic looking roofline and sleek front-end styling. The facelift that was applied to the Prius V in 2015 saw sharper lines and more aggression, but it arguably doesn’t have a lot of aesthetic appeal given the way Toyota has evolved its design since then.
It isn’t a traditional people-mover, because it has regular doors at the back rather than sliding doors to allow simple access to the third-row seats. It’s more like a hatchback that’s been stung by a bee, looking a bit bloated. But as one pint-sized tester put it this week, it’s one very big little car.
The inside is a bit of a marvel in terms of space management. This car measures just 25mm longer than a Corolla sedan (4645mm long), and it's only 1775mm wide (the same as a Corolla sedan) and 1590mm tall, because it needs a bit more room to fit seven people in. And it can.
The Levorg really hasn't changed much from the Impreza-derived wagon that debuted in 2016, aside from styling tweaks, new adaptive headlights, a triple-fold rear seat and revised multimedia systems across the range.
The boot space holds 486 litres with the seats up, which one-ups its Forester sibling by 64 litres (maybe it 64-ups it, then?).
The size increases to 1446 litres when the 60/40 split-fold seats are dropped down. Tie-down points and a 12-volt (12V) socket are present in the rear, along with flip-down switches for the rear seat backs.
There's plenty of room in the rear seats for head room and leg room, though three-across is a tight squeeze for adults.
There are a few not-so clever touches, though, including a myriad of controls on the steering wheel that could easily be reduced. The multimedia system, too, is starting to show its age, even though it offers access to apps like Pandora (which has now been killed off).
Another irritation is the roof-mounted sash belt for the rear centre seat.
There are ISOFIX child seat mounts for the outside rear seats, and a cargo blind for the rear area is included. A run-flat spare lives under the boot floor, too.
It's nice to see a pair of USB ports for rear seat passengers. There's also a USB port in the centre console bin as well as in the storage area under the centre of the dash. Bottle holders live in all four doors, while cup holders are present front and rear.
Toyota Prius V
The cabin of the Prius V highlights the notion of versatility. There are two rows of seats at the back, with the middle row sliding and folding to allow easy third-row access. And I mean easy - even me, a 183cm-tall human - can clamber into the back seats without too much in the way of old-man noises.
The space in the back row is limited, though, particularly for knee room and foot space. It is best left for children, then. But the second row has three individually slide-able seats, meaning if you really need to fit seven adults in, you theoretically could.
That second row is nicely useable. The fact the seats are sculpted individually means they feel made for a proper family getaway, and even with them set as far forward as they can go (to allow maximum legroom in the third row) I could sit in the outboard seats without much discomfort. The sun-blinds that are built into the back doors are a really welcome touch for parents and adults alike.
What isn’t so great is the lack of rear air-vents - there aren’t any face-level vents in either the second or third rows, meaning things could get stuffy on a hot day.
But the practicality side of things is reasonably well sorted, with useable cup holders in the rear wheel arch moulds, plus there’s a 12-volt outlet in the third row, too. The middle row has bottle holders in the doors, and there are map pockets in the front seatbacks.
Up front there is more smart storage; a pair (yep, two) of gloveboxes adorns the dashboard, and there’s a pop-out cupholder on the passenger side, too. Two more cupholders grace the centre console (which itself is very shallow, because the hybrid batteries sit inside it), plus a small storage box - presumably for your keys to sit. A small shelf sits at the bottom of the centre stack, and that’s where you’ll find a USB port to connect to the media screen above.
That 6.1-inch touchscreen is fine, but pretty ancient. It has some small menu buttons, won’t allow you to input phone numbers or connect to Bluetooth when the car is moving, and you (or your fellow front passenger) can’t manually enter sat nav details when you’re driving. There is voice control, but it’s painful. Forget Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, too - neither is available in the Prius V.
While the boot space is pretty limited with seven seats in place - Toyota claims 180 litres of capacity in that configuration - there’s still enough room for a suitcase or two.
But with five seats in play it makes quite a bit more sense, more easily fitting family things like prams with its 485L of cargo capacity. And remember, there are no batteries under the boot floor eating into space, and you get a space-saver spare wheel as well.
Price and features
The Levorg range now stands at four models, with the new 1.6 GT having the added benefit of kicking the range off at a lower price point of $35,990 before on-roads.
Standard kit includes all-wheel-drive, 17-inch alloys, dual zone air conditioning, automatic LED headlights, automatic wipers and a multi-stage throttle map button known as Intelligent Drive, which gives you two different throttle maps via switches on the steering wheel.
There's also a colour multimedia screen that's complemented by a small TFT screen above it that displays vehicle info like boost level and fuel economy.
It also has automatic wipers, a leather-clad steering wheel, alloy pedals, a dual-tone cloth interior and LED daytime running lamps.
The $42,890 1.6 GT Premium, by comparison, adds 18-inch wheels instead of 17s, leather upholstery with heated front seats and electrically-operated driver's seat, more safety with blind-spot monitoring, rear cross traffic alert and lane change assist, and a larger 7.0-inch multimedia system with sat nav.
The 2.0-litre turbocharged four-cylinder engine is retained for the 2.0 GT-S, which now starts at $49,190. It's effectively an almost-$5000 cost increase from 2016, thanks to the new, cheaper 1.6-litre powered cars. It shares the same specifications as the GT Premium, aside from the addition of black rims and a sharper 'Sport#' mode for the drive mode system.
Burgundy coloured leather seats form part of the 2.0 STI Sport package, which also includes a unique front bumper and grille, different 18-inch rims and Bilstein shocks. It's available in Subaru's famed World Rally Blue, as well as other colours like white, grey and black.
Toyota Prius V
It undercuts the Tarago, Kluger and Land Cruiser Prado by a decent margin, with pricing starting at $37,590 for the base grade model and stretching to $45,380 for the top-of-two-tier i-Tech flagship. Should you bother spending up on that version? In short, no.
That’s because the regular Prius V has a pretty strong standard equipment list. Push-button start, keyless entry, sat nav with SUNA live traffic updates, a reversing camera, climate control and a head-up display are all standard. You also get 16-inch alloy wheels, which have a set of plastic wheel covers over the top (great for kerb touch-parkers).
The i-Tech sees the addition of Bi-LED headlights with auto-levelling (as opposed to the halogens with LED daytime running lights you see on the base model), plus fake leather seats (not cloth), heated front seats, a dual-pane panoramic glass roof (which doesn’t open), an auto-dimming rear-view mirror, and a semi-automated parking system.
Plus, whether you choose the entry grade or the high-spec, you get Toyota’s 'Safety Sense+' system - read the details in the safety section below.
Colour options for the Prius V are quite broad. There are nine rather sedate hues to choose from, with eight of them being 'premium colours' that attract an additional cost ($450).
And, as with most Toyota models, there is a range of additional factory-backed accessories that you can choose, such as a bonnet protector, boot scuff guard and even door handle protective film (to stop rings from scratching them up), but things like roof racks/roof rails or a roof pod are unavailable.
Engine & trans
The newest motor in the family is a 1.6-litre single-turbo four-cylinder boxer unit, and it's the first of this size to be turbocharged for the brand. It's backed by a continuously variable transmission (CVT) auto.
It makes 125kW and 250Nm of torque, though it honestly feels like it makes more horsepower than the engine specs suggest. The key element is how that torque is delivered low down in the rev range.
This means 197kW of power and 350Nm of torque, complemented by a multi-mode throttle control known as Si Drive.
The CVT gearbox sports an eight-step 'manual' mode that can be activated with paddles behind the wheel. CVTs have a bad reputation for dulling the driving experience, but drive this one before you dismiss it out of hand; it's well behaved, reasonably quiet and it complements the car's intended purpose well.
Of the four models, the 2.0 GT-S offers the best towing capacity of 1500kg of braked trailer, with a towball weight max of 150kg. The Bilstein damper-equipped SGTI Sport can only cope with 1200kg and 120kg on the ball.
The 1.6-litre cars, meanwhile, are essentially unsuitable for towing anything larger than a box trailer, offering just 800kg of braked trailer ability and just 80kg on the towball. The max towing capacity for all Levorgs for trailers without brakes is 750kg.
No diesel or LPG options exist for the Levorg, while off road performance is very limited due to its low ground clearance.
Toyota Prius V
Powering the Prius V is a 1.8-litre four-cylinder engine, which uses a CVT auto and combines with a lithium-ion battery pack and two electric motors. It’s what’s known as a series parallel hybrid set-up.
The system can allow the car to run using both the battery and engine, or just the battery, or have the regenerative braking system feed the battery pack more juice. That tech isn’t necessarily cutting edge today, but it was when the car launched (waaaaay back in 2012).
The engine can produce 100kW of power and 142Nm of torque. The electric motor can produce 73kW on its own, but the maximum combined power output is still 100kW.
The Levorg 2.0-litre is capable of a fuel consumption figure of 8.7 litres per 100km on the combined cycle, according to Subaru, while the 1.6-litre is more economical at 7.4L/100km.
We recorded a dash-indicated 11.2L/100km over 300km in the STI Sport, and 8.0L/100km over 320km in the 1.6 GT.
All four cars have a 60-litre fuel tank, and all four require 95 RON fuel as a minimum. Weight varies between 1539kg for the 1.6 GT to 1591kg for the STI Sport.
Toyota Prius V
Obviously if you are considering a hybrid, you’re looking to take advantage of excellent fuel consumption. And the Prius V doesn’t disappoint.
The claimed consumption is just 4.4 litres per 100km. In the real world, you can expect to use about 5.5L/100km if you’re light on the throttle, and 6.5L/100km if you thrash it.
You can’t skimp on the fuel when you get to the bowser, though - the Prius V insists on running using 95 RON premium unleaded.
The Levorg was a late starter on the last Impreza platform, and it's suffered as a result, particularly in the area of its suspension tune. In short, its ride quality is below average for a car in this price bracket, though the entry-level GT fares better thanks to its smaller rims and taller profile tyres.
The main issue is the Levorg's rear suspension architecture. While the front end uses Impreza-spec MacPherson struts, the rear layout has been compromised to accommodate a large cargo area.
This means the rear springs and shocks aren't physically long enough to give the Levorg enough wheel travel to effectively absorb bumps and lumps and also maintain a decent level of ride quality.
There's lots of physical grip available, though, from the all-wheel drive system which Subaru has backed for a long time. It does add weight and complexity, but it does also give a sure-footed level of behaviour in all weathers.
The smaller 1.6-litre engine isn't exactly a powerhouse, and it's 2.3sec slower between 0- 100km/h than the 6.6sec 2.0-litre car. It does, however, make the most of what it has by serving up the majority of its torque in a very useable range.
The Levorg accelerates away from rest more than adequately, and can maintain its pace at national limit speeds without qualm. It needs a bit of coaxing in steep terrain with four people aboard, but all told the 1.6 is a smooth, strong little unit.
The 2.0-litre WRX-spec engine, meanwhile, really hustles the Levorg along, especially when provoked, with torquey performance across the rev range.
Toyota Prius V
If you’re a car geek like me, you likely find driving as efficiently as you can fun. If so, you'll love this. You can watch the car switching between EV mode - which it will use for up to about 30km/h, but only for a couple of minutes - and hybrid power. And honestly, if you’ve never driven a hybrid you might think it sounds dumb, but being a fuel miser can be fun!
But the fun factor is pretty much limited to being a cheapskate on fuel. It really isn’t that fun to drive otherwise, but that’s not what it’s designed for.
Still, the drivetrain does a decent enough job for most families - it builds pace pretty easily, and while the refinement and power could be better, if you’re not aiming to break records on the school run, you shouldn’t be too disappointed.
The ride is mostly good, though it can be a little sharp over patchy surfaces, and the steering is decent, if a little lifeless. My biggest issue is the brake pedal response, which takes some getting used to. Sometimes it feels like it won’t stop quick enough.
That, and the adaptive cruise control doesn’t slow to a stop on the highway - it cuts out at about 30km/h, so you’ve gotta be on your toes if the traffic starts to build up.
If you want the latest and greatest in hybrid family friendliness, you really ought to wait for the new-generation RAV4, which - admittedly - mightn’t have seven seats, but it will have a hybrid drivetrain offered. And it’ll be much more modern inside and out.
The EyeSight camera system is the Levorg's big ticket safety item, and it includes automatic emergency braking, brake light recognition, pre-collision steering assist, adaptive cruise control and lane departure warning.
Lane sway warning, lead vehicle start alert, pre-collision braking system, pre-collision brake assist and even pre-collision throttle management are also built into the system that operates via a pair of cameras at the top of the windscreen.
The entry level 1.6 GT misses out on a secondary level of EyeSight functionality - known as Vision Assist - but still gets AEB, lane sway warning a pre-collision steering assist. All other cars get the full gamut of functions, including rear cross traffic alert, rear AEB and blind spot monitor.
It can be more finicky than other systems, and can be fooled by a dirty windscreen in direct sun. This third generation version is much more robust and sophisticated than the earlier versions, though.
Six airbags, including full-length curtain airbags, are standard fare, helping the Levorg score a maximum ANCAP mark of five from five (tested 2016).
Toyota Prius V
Every Prius V still carries the same maximum five-star ANCAP safety rating that it was stamped with in 2015, even though the car was actually tested in 2012.
The range is covered with the safety systems you’d expect, including electronic stability control, ABS, electronic brake distribution, plus there’s a reversing camera, too. Rear parking sensors are a dealer-fit accessory.
There was a bit of back-and-forth between myself and Toyota Australia over airbag coverage. The company stated on its public site that the car had curtain airbag coverage all the way to the third row, but no image to support that. I’ve since had it confirmed by Toyota Australia that it does definitely have third-row airbag coverage, which is a great added piece of mind element for family buyers (plus there are dual front, driver knee and front side airbags, too).
Airbags are one thing, but what about the other safety kit? Well, every Prius V has Toyota’s Safety Sense plus system, with auto emergency braking (AEB), pedestrian detection, adaptive cruise control, auto high beam lights and lane-departure warning.
Subaru has a three-year, unlimited kilometre warranty on the Levorg, and occasionally adds another two years as a dealer offer; it's definitely worth asking about it.
The service interval on a Subaru is shorter than most other cars at six months or 12,500km, thanks to the boxer engine needing more frequent oil changes – and it's false economy to miss a service, too. Trying to sell your Levorg without a fully stamped owner's manual will be hard.
A six-visit capped price servicing regime for the Levorg averages out at around $375 per service, which includes labour, parts and fluids, and even fees like oil disposal levies.
Reliability is generally good with Subarus if you keep them serviced, with few problems or issues reported.
Toyota Prius V
It’s cheap to run a Prius V in terms of its fuel use, and it’s cheap to run in terms of its maintenance, too. Toyota lists its charges at just $140 per visit to the dealer under the Service Advantage offer, though you’ll need to take it in every six months or 10,000km.
The warranty cover is three years or 100,000km for the car, but the hybrid battery attracts an eight-year/160,000km cover of its own.