Millions of Americans delight at driving the Toyota Prius. A friend
of mine argued that the Toyota Prius (he has last generation’s) is a
quirky car in a similar vein of the original VW Bug. He (Roman Mica –
Examiner extraordinaire) made a valid point as I argued that it is an
appliance meant to efficiently get the owner from point A to point B –
I thought about his assessment of the Toyota Prius for a
long time (Uh, for a monosyllabic Neanderthal like me that’s 10
minutes). After sampling many a Toyota Prius and just finishing a week
with the brand new 2010 Prius – I came to a conclusion: he has a point.
take the formulaic equation off the table for a moment (I refer to the
image, snoot, nickel-hydride batteries and pretentiousness associated
with driving a Toyota Prius) and get the heart of what the 2010 Toyota
Prius Hybrid is to me. This car represents a combined mpg of up to 50
mpg. That’s FIFTY miles per gallon. Now, if you’re like me and enjoy
lead-footing whenever possible and taking 3 or 4 passengers that mpg
figure is a tad less (mid 40s for me).
That is extraordinary mileage for a nearly mid sized car.
The 2010 Toyota Prius’ output is 134 horsepower if you include the
36 horsepower (201.6 volts) with its power stored in a sealed nickel
metal hydride battery pack. This new Toyota Prius is larger, more
powerful and altogether beefier than the model it replaces. That
includes better mileage, based on the mellow 1.8 liter engine.
a car guy who likes passing power, I was less than enthusiastic about
the continuously variable transmission (CVT) that is dynamite in the
city and sloth-like on the highway. I step on the pedal to pass a truck
and wait much longer than I would like for the power to spool up – even
in “power” mode. There is an “Eco” and “EV” button next to the power
button. The Eco mode cuts or limits many of the gizmos that are sapping
energy and optimizes the Prius’ driving algorithm to be as efficient as
possible. EV will allow the driver (at the right speed with enough
energy) to drive on electric power only.
is the fun part of the car. If you are real careful, you can balance
the various drive settings and attempt to get the most out a gallon of
gas. Mastering these buttons and using logic when driving can net some
mighty incredible mileage.
There is little feedback from the
steering and truly no need to have much as this is no sports car. The
suspension (which is independent MacPherson strut with stabilizer bar
up front and simple torsion beam in back) is adequate for day to day
driving while providing just enough play for the occasional emergency
maneuver. Regenerative brakes, now standard in most hybrid and EV
vehicles, work well and stop the 2010 Toyota Prius from 60 mph in 118
feet. These brakes are smoother than last generation’s.
the “Park” button is across from the aforementioned buttons. I
inadvertently hit the park button while underway. The Prius hesitated
and disregarded the command- until I stopped at a stop sign. It was
then that the Toyota Prius decided to go into park. I had to flip and
switch the silly gear lever into drive while depressing the brake pedal
before I was permitted to drive.
I would rather have less doodads and gizmos, but who can deny the serious attention to safety and efficiency?
was very careful with the exterior styling and kept the signature
Toyota Prius look intact. This makes sense as that look also achieves
an outstanding drag coefficient of .25 that’s better than most super
cars. With this restyling, Toyota added more aggressive headlights,
tighter design lines and a more exaggerated rear end. It’s a polished
look with enough distinction to set it apart from the also new Honda
Internally, you will be hard pressed to find a
more techno-laden vehicle on the planet. Seats are comfortable and
spacious. I did encounter a less than pleasurable rub from the odd,
floating center stack that molds all the way to the armrest location. I
wish Toyota kept it simple with a logically located (and functioning)
gear lever location. Back seats are far more spacious than the Honda
Insight’s and the rear seats folds down to provide an exemplary
addition of cargo space.
There is very little analogue in this
digital machine, which is exactly how Toyota wants it. Just about
anything that requires human or internal combustion interaction is now
electronic. Even the water pump has its own electric pump. In order to
ensure maximum efficiency, along with consistency, all devices are or
can be regulated.
This is a pleasure for some and a grim loss of control for others.
did enjoy many of the high-tech offerings within the new Prius. I
especially enjoyed the optional solar powered sunroof that has its own
air circulating device built in. It sucks out hot air when parked
automatically. This helps with the internal temperature and helps the
regular air conditioner’s workload.
beginning at $23,000 and topping off at over $33,000, the Toyota poses
an interesting question. What is good mileage worth to you? For me,
after spending a week with the top of the line 2010 Toyota Prius I do
agree with the assessment that this vehicle has something special going
Funny enough, I enjoyed driving last generation’s Prius more. Odd, eh?
Automotive media, racing, vehicle evaluation, wrecking yards, and car
sales are just a part of Nathan Adlen’s vehicular past. He writes out
of high octane passion! To read more reviews by Nathan Adlen or just to
enjoy more of excellent writing please visit him on at his examiner.com
page HERE. Photos by: N.D. Adlen