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We take the latest Prius out for a spin and give you our impressions

A couple weeks ago we reviewed the Lexus RX 450h, the most affordable luxury hybrid SUV.  This week we turn our attention to the 2010 Toyota Prius.  The Prius is the world's bestselling hybrid and sits atop sales charts -- for any vehicle -- in Japan.  It has helped Toyota stack up over 2 million hybrids sold.

The world's first true mass-produced hybrid, the 2010 Prius is a third generation design.  It is powered by a 98 hp 1.8 L I4 engine and an 80 hp electric motor.  The car received disc brakes in the rear, as opposed to the drum brakes on the previous generations.  And many weight reductions were made, including cuts of 20 percent to the new inverter, motor and transaxle, allowed a terrific EPA estimated gas mileage of 51 highway/48 city.

The Prius is priced at $21,750 for the base model, Prius I.  We received a Prius V, which featured such perks as a navigation system and back-up camera (more on that later).  The Prius V retails for approximately $27,350.

Taking the Prius out for a test spin, one thing that was noticeable was that the acceleration was much more energetic than the second generation models.  The car handled great on the highway and handled well over turns on city streets.

The suspension was also quite good and absorbed the potholes in Detroit's rutty city streets quite well, causing minimal jarring to the passenger.  The car was also pretty quiet.

Turning to the gas mileage, we unfortunately did not exhaust the entire tank, so we were forced to a crude estimate, but according to some rough number crunching we managed approximately 50 mpg, a bit better than the EPA combined fuel economy.  For those who haven't driven a Prius its a pretty incredible experience to see a gas-engine vehicle getting those kind of numbers.

We made rather heavy use of the EV mode in stop and go traffic.  The EV mode is something available on Toyota's hybrids that we didn't get time to cover in the Lexus RX 450h piece.  Basically the mode turns your vehicle into an electric vehicle, utilizing your stored charge.  It takes a bit of getting used to because you can only go up to around 20 mph before shutting off and it also shuts off upon sudden acceleration.  However, we quickly picked it up and found it to be an efficient way to save gas during stop and go traffic on the morning commute.

As much as we loved the great gas mileage and EV mode, we did encounter a couple of disappointments.  First, the navigation screen was not backlit, which made it harder to read than the display on the Lexus RX 450h.  Further, when decelerating from highways speeds in stop-and-go traffic, the new disc brakes give a rather jarring deceleration and it doesn't have a firm incremental feel.  While the vehicle was very capable of braking, this was a bit unsettling at first.

The vehicle's LED display was nice, but it would be even nicer to see metrics on the average fuel economy that the car was getting (that would have saved us from making crude estimates).  The LED headlamps, part of the Prius V package were terrific illuminating the road very well.

The backup camera we have mixed feelings about.  On the one hand we found it could be helpful under certain situations.  However, ultimately we found ourselves not using it, and instead mostly looking over our shoulder to survey the scene.  The key reason is that its hard to back up without views of whats at your vehicle's sides, especially if you're turning out of a space.  Thus the camera view was rather distracting and if used solely could even be dangerous (a warning mentioning some comment of this nature is displayed).

Finally turning to the inside look and feel, the car was relatively well-appointed.  The seats were firm, but not overly hard.  The back seat featured a decent amount of passenger space and the trunk was quite large, thanks to the hatchback design.

We liked the 2010 Toyota Prius -- a lot, in fact.  Even someone who can appreciate big cars or trucks might find themselves having fun with the Prius, saving gas on their weekly commutes and saving their larger vehicle for weekend outings.  Once you get over the car's less-than-sexy curves and realize its utility, you'll start to appreciate it.  The Prius did have some rough spots still, but overall it shows the polish of a third generation design.

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Watch out Car & Driver and Motor Trend
By Steve1981 on 11/2/2009 9:56:39 AM , Rating: 4
Dailytech is coming for you!

RE: Watch out Car & Driver and Motor Trend
By Sunrise089 on 11/2/2009 10:53:26 AM , Rating: 2
CNET reviews cars too, and I sort of get it. Aside from the usual quest for more reads and hits, tech sites do bring a unique perspective to automotive reviews. I trust a Dailytech or CNET review of Ford's Sync system or Lexus' Auto-park thing more than the same review from an enthusiast magazine.

However I take your point - for people who enjoy the thrill of driving a tech site's review will never take the place of a review that places dynamics above all else. But in the same way I might have my grandmother read a Consumer Reports review to find out what sort of car is best for her I could see recommending my non-car-guy but technically sophisticated 20-something friends read these reviews. I'll stick to Car and Driver.

By Steve1981 on 11/2/2009 11:34:52 AM , Rating: 2
Even non-car-guys can appreciate a professional review that includes objective measurements and is written by a reviewer that has extensive experience with other vehicles and can make useful comparisons among them.

By Reclaimer77 on 11/2/2009 11:42:20 AM , Rating: 4
Jason Mick reviewing Hybrids is about as objective as a fat man at a buffet line.

Overpriced peanut car
By jdubya95 on 11/2/2009 12:06:11 PM , Rating: 2
Nearly 28k dollars, are you kidding! No thanks!

RE: Overpriced peanut car
By ajira99 on 11/2/2009 1:23:38 PM , Rating: 2
I'd rather have this car at THIS price than that stupid Tesla roadster! People get all starry-eyed with geeklust over the "supposed" cutting-edge technology in it, and gloss over the cost. I'll jump on the e-vehicle bandwagon when somebody releases an affordable vehicle for the "average" person (this is pretty close).

RE: Overpriced peanut car
By Zoomer on 11/2/2009 6:20:23 PM , Rating: 1
I'll take lightly used or new gas car, thank you.

10 grand can buy a lot of gas. At $3/gal and 25mpg, that equates to ~85k miles, or more than 13 years of driving around for me.

RE: Overpriced peanut car
By Souka on 11/2/2009 6:53:29 PM , Rating: 2
Get a 2yr honda civic...1/2 the cost and probably lower TCO (excluding yearly fuel cost).

For fuel... a basic civic w/manual will do what... 2/3 the EPA of the Prius?

Gotta drive a LOT to reclaim the cost of the Prius... oh, and don't forget insurance... and we'll have to assume you'll own the car like 15yrs with no major accidents to recoup the costs of the Prius.

There's been a number of articles in R&T, C&D, CSR about the "true savings" of a hybrid... general conclusion is not worth it for "MOST" drivers.

RE: Overpriced peanut car
By Reclaimer77 on 11/2/2009 7:01:05 PM , Rating: 2
Don't forget when the batteries die on the Prius in about 10 years or so, the car is totaled at that point. How many Honda's on the road are over 10 years old and going strong ? Yup, tons.

RE: Overpriced peanut car
By Calin on 11/3/2009 6:40:05 AM , Rating: 2
However, you should also mention the brakes last a lot longer on the Prius (as deceleration is done by the electric motor every time it is possible).

"The car was also pretty quiet."
By JuPO5b4REqAYbSPUlMcP on 11/2/09, Rating: 0
RE: "The car was also pretty quiet."
By Reclaimer77 on 11/2/2009 12:08:09 PM , Rating: 2
Turning to the gas mileage, we unfortunately did not exhaust the entire tank, so we were forced to a crude estimate, but according to some rough number crunching we managed approximately 50 mpg, a bit better than the EPA combined fuel economy. For those who haven't driven a Prius its a pretty incredible experience to see a gas-engine vehicle getting those kind of numbers.

Then you probably love this quote huh ? Yeah we didn't actually TEST the numbers, so we pulled stuff out of our ass lol

RE: "The car was also pretty quiet."
By Bremen7000 on 11/2/2009 5:52:04 PM , Rating: 2
No kidding, WTF does the "entire tank" have to do with "crude" vs real estimates? You fill up, you drive X miles, you fill up again and do some division. Don't tell me the previous article used miles-per-tank instead of an actual miles-per-gallon calculation.. Definitely time to rename to DailyRant.

RE: "The car was also pretty quiet."
By Zoomer on 11/2/2009 6:16:30 PM , Rating: 2
Because the stop point where it cuts out, bubbles in the tank, elevation, etc all contribute to an inaccurate reading with that method.

Doing it over a few tanks with as few variations as possible is usually the recommended way, as it minimizes these variations.

RE: "The car was also pretty quiet."
By Calin on 11/3/2009 6:42:27 AM , Rating: 2
Because filling up the fuel tank is not a perfectly reproducible event - every time you fill up to a different level (not much variation though, but it's there nonetheless)

By Spuke on 11/2/2009 1:08:11 PM , Rating: 2
Anyone like the look of the new car more than the old one?

RE: Looks
By Steve1981 on 11/2/2009 1:30:19 PM , Rating: 2
FWIW I think it's a little sleeker than the outgoing model, although some may construe that as damning with faint praise.

RE: Looks
By Parhel on 11/2/2009 1:46:27 PM , Rating: 2
Not from the pictures. I haven't seen one in person, but I think I slightly prefer the previous body style. The old body style do anything for me either, but it didn't bother me. The new model just looks strange to me. I particularly don't like the back end. What do you think?

RE: Looks
By Spuke on 11/2/2009 3:56:14 PM , Rating: 2
I've seen quite a few in person (I live CA afterall) and I prefer the new look to the old one. It's still not anything I would buy, ever, but it at least it doesn't look so offensive to me anymore.

Europe calls BS on Prius's claim of a green car
By sandhuatdt on 11/2/2009 3:44:22 PM , Rating: 1
Prius is one of the biggest lies marketed by Toyota. Plenty of diesels out there that beat Prius on the MPG test. In the US, Prius isn't a green but a social phenomenon. Watch South Park's "Smug" episode and you will understand my point wrt Prius sales in the US.

By EVdriver on 11/2/2009 11:30:09 PM , Rating: 2
Plenty of diesels out there that beat Prius on the MPG test.

Really? Then name them! You can't.
Your comment is just one of the ususal ignorant BSs from diesel-heads.

RE: Europe calls BS on Prius's claim of a green car
By leexgx on 11/5/2009 1:28:31 AM , Rating: 1
maybe not beat it but come very close to it at 3-4 times less price

i got an Punto 1.3 TDI MutiJet MK4 or MK3 (2005)

i am in the UK so not sure what the MPG is like from mine to yours but mine is avg 45mpg and that is city driving (due to not having an 6th forward gear i norm have less MPG on the highways then i do in citys, out side lane is norm 80-90MPH thats how most drive, in the UK officially its 70mph),

i get 300-350 miles for every £30 of fill up (bit disappointing now as £30 used to be able to close to fill my tank up now its norm 80-70% full) when i fill my tank full to the top i get 400-450 miles (depending how i drive)

the Prius looks good but most moden (up to 7 years old) diesels do 35-50 MPG in the UK its gas (as you call it in the US) that has lower MPG (every car i have been in seems to be always 30MPG or so less with an same size engine)

By ChronoReverse on 11/5/2009 1:13:59 PM , Rating: 2
You're comparing a tiny little car to a mid-sized sedan? And using Imperial gallons to compared with US gallons? And then diesel to gasoline?

By Gurthang on 11/3/2009 8:20:19 AM , Rating: 2
Sorry but you are wrong. While it is possible make ICE cars more efficient with todays technology without going hybrid ultimately you either end up with a much smaller and less powerfull car or adding lots of complicated control systems which ultimately make the car more like a hybrid with all of its complexity issues. Diesel while a fine engine technology has its own lie. Diesel fuel contains more energy per unit volume than "gasoline". But also more carbon so if you are trying to reduce emissions with a same sized car diesel vs. hybrid you are not going to do it. Feel free to go to and compare estimated fuel costs and carbon numbers for same sized 2010 model year vehicles.

If you want to attack hybrids go after reliability, longevity, complexity, and cost.

By btc909 on 11/2/2009 12:15:10 PM , Rating: 2
Which Toyota / Lexus product is Jason going to review next?

RE: Next
By Lord 666 on 11/2/2009 12:44:43 PM , Rating: 1
Well, I distinctly remember seeing a pink Barbie Toyota MR2 being built. Definitely Mick's speed and taste.

Prius V
By Gurthang on 11/2/2009 1:16:19 PM , Rating: 2
Having driven a 2010 Prius V for two weeks and owning a 2004 Prius mostly for the gizmos I can say the 2010 has some nice enhancements. Though I wish my test model had the solar roof as I wanted to know how effective that would be in our record hot summer. (As well as having the remote AC option.) What I will say is I can't believe Jason Mick had trouble figuring out the vehicle information display. It has several ways to display both instantanous, interval, and per-tank mileage. You just have to pressy de purdy little buttonies.

Radar cruise control: Great on longer drives auto adjusts speed to match the car in front of you up to the set speed. It just won't hit the breaks. (aka drop below "coasting" speed)

As for some of the car's techie features in my opinion:

Lane Keep Assist: Meh.. If you are distracted enough to need this then you shouldn't be driving. A big yawn, wake me up when thy have auto-drive.

New center console: Reminds me of my 2001 Celica, gives quick access to just about everything at the cost of space and storage. Being a 2004 Prius owner the combination of familar and foreign really messed with my muscle memory.

New "hud" like info display: I like it as it keeps most of the information you need "closer to the road". The display that tells you what steering wheel button your about to his is a nice touch and I like some of the new info displays giving you a better idea when you are in "efficency zone".

EV Mode: A great way to take out those pesky text messaging street crossers who are too distracted to look before crossing. Oh and yea you can use to in stop and go traffic but honestly why bother "eco mode" does almost as good with less work on your part and less of that golf cart feel.

Automatic Parking: Disturbing, inconvient, and a bit like letting MS Word's Clippy park for you.

Nav system: Standard Toyota/Lexus fare though the breadcrumb feature was a nice add. Though the XM traffic notifications were spotty in my area.

XM Radio: My first encounter with built in XM radio, I liked the selection of stations hated the "channel" navigation.

IPod Interface: A tad slow and I did not care for how they designed the user interface.

Voice Control: A big improvement over the 2004 unit I was actualy able to control the nav system this time unlke my 2004 which has an error rate so high as to make the endevor more humorous than usefull.

Hands free phone interface: Another improvement, not perfect by any means but quite passable. I had trouble uploading contacts via my wife's WinMo phone, for the moment I blame that crappy phone more than the car.

Hacking: I'm sure there is a way in but for now I prefer my 2004's more open design. Just being able to override the GPS lock-out while driving in the 2004 without having to resort to hardware hacks I missed at least once on my test drive. Hopefully some enterprising Prius hacker will give the 2010 same love.

By mmcdonalataocdotgov on 11/2/2009 3:20:22 PM , Rating: 2
I am wondering if you didn't invoke the Prius' panic brake mode, which would have resulted in a jarring deceleration. My Camry hybrid and Venza V6 both have Toyota panic brakes, which slam on the brakes if it thinks you are panicking. And they do work. Since it looks like you were hypermiling, it doesn't seem like you would be tailgating anyone at speed that would cause you to need to apply the brakes more briskly. Was that the case? <MS sarcasm>If so, perhaps it was a feature, and not a bug. </MS sarcasm>

By Manksgloob on 11/3/2009 5:56:44 PM , Rating: 2
There are other modes to that "LED" screen (which is actually a vacuum-fluorescent display) you mentioned, one of which does show trip mileage and other detailed information.

Also, the main navigation screen is backlit (as opposed to frontlit or not at all) -- it might have been turned down or, if the headlights were on, not in day mode. Would be silly by now if Toyota (or any company) packaged a car with an unlit screen.

Fix your MPGs
By daenku32 on 11/3/2009 11:36:36 PM , Rating: 2
The new Prius is rated 51mpg city, 48mpg highway.

The reason why the Prius is so much better in city driving than even your greatest Diesel is because it has the technology to eliminate unnecessary idling and has regenerative breaking, which together eliminate most of the waste of an ICE. It was likely the regenerative system that made the brakes feel funny, since it is not just the break disks slowing the car down.

Personally, it probably still is too much. If I do end up buying a new car in the next year or two, I'm aiming at about $15k. If I was looking into mid $20s, I would likely consider it.

brakeing in an small car
By leexgx on 11/5/2009 1:47:49 AM , Rating: 2
when decelerating from highways speeds in stop-and-go traffic, the new disc brakes give a rather jarring deceleration and it doesn't have a firm incremental feel. While the vehicle was very capable of braking, this was a bit unsettling at first.

if you just come from an heavy car or make of car the brakes can seem stiffer (they work faster in more modern cars) or if the car is new the brakes have to be worked in an little

when got my 3rd card, first time i press the brake when i was moving very slow (like 5mph or even slower) the car stopped right away all, i can say is that seat belts are for keeping you in the seat and not on the dash board :) i only did that once

if you want to test to see what its like use your other foot to press the brake your ABS be on in no time, should test your ABS every month or 2 to make sure it works correctly (i had an car for an week due to my car been fixed and the ABS in that car must of been broke as it was ABS'ing under norm braking but it could of been due to it been an Nissan Micra as it uses motorcycle wheels basically never seen wheels so small fitted to an car before ok going strate lines but not so turning it slides lol)

"What would I do? I'd shut it down and give the money back to the shareholders." -- Michael Dell, after being asked what to do with Apple Computer in 1997
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