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Third generation Toyota Prius

Artist's rendition of a Prius minivan  (Source: Motor Trend)
Toyota's Prius to get a larger sibling

Toyota's Prius has been a runaway success for the company. First introduced as an '01 model in 2000 in the United States market, the hybrid has continually gained in sales, gotten larger to accommodate American tastes, and has become more powerful and more fuel efficient.

According to a recent report from Motor Trend magazine, a new variant of the Prius will take boost passenger space and cargo capacity even further. Toyota is reportedly working on an "Alpha" minivan which will share its platform with the current third-generation Prius.

The Alpha is said to ride on a wheelbase that is one inch longer than the current Prius hybrid's 106.3 inches and overall length will be roughly a foot longer at around 187.6 inches. The Alpha will also have an extra row of seating bringing total passenger capacity to seven (up from five in the current Prius hatchback).

Although the Alpha will be larger and heavier than standard Prius, some of the added weight is expected to be offset by the use of a lithium-ion (li-ion) battery pack instead of the heavier nickel-metal hybrid battery pack currently used. According to Motor Trend, a li-ion pack would be roughly a third the weight of the existing battery pack.

Still, the Alpha is likely to get worse mileage than its more lithe counterpart. The Prius hatchback is rated at a combined 50 mpg, so a heftier people mover based on the same platform would probably score somewhere around 45 mpg by our estimates.

However, that would still put it ahead of small family haulers like the Mazda 5 and Kia Rondo which are rated at 24 mpg and 22 mpg combined respectively.

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Seperated at birth
By Suntan on 5/25/2010 3:53:12 PM , Rating: 1
Seeing as the current prius looks exactly like a shrunk down version of that hideous abomination that was the Aztek, you would think Toyota would have just bought the old tooling for the body panels from the now smoking heap that is Pontiac, at fire sale prices, and plop a hybrid drive train into the inside of it.

Anyone else see the similarities?


RE: Seperated at birth
By umop apisdn on 5/25/2010 4:15:56 PM , Rating: 2
The only similarity I can pick out is the almost vertical rear end.

RE: Seperated at birth
By Jedi2155 on 5/25/2010 5:06:01 PM , Rating: 2
I don't see whats so bad about the Aztek?

RE: Seperated at birth
By thekdub on 5/25/2010 5:44:34 PM , Rating: 2
For starters, it's hideously ugly, ridiculously large, and not very comfortable to sit in. IMO.

RE: Seperated at birth
By Solandri on 5/26/2010 5:33:01 AM , Rating: 2
Unfortunately, it seems aerodynamics favors shapes with smooth transitions, and without corners where the hood meets the windshield, the windshield meets the top, the top meets the rear window, and the rear window meets the trunk. So as hideous as you find it, it is probably the future shape of energy efficient automobiles.

RE: Seperated at birth
By thekdub on 5/26/2010 11:59:09 PM , Rating: 2
True, the "Kammback" shape does greatly benefit gas efficiency. But there are quite a few cars with this design that are much more aesthetically pleasing than the Aztek. Again, IMO.

RE: Seperated at birth
By Brandon Hill on 5/25/2010 5:50:57 PM , Rating: 3
Is this post a joke?

RE: Seperated at birth
By quiksilvr on 5/25/2010 11:58:56 PM , Rating: 2
God, I hope so.

RE: Seperated at birth
By Samus on 5/27/2010 12:11:39 PM , Rating: 2
It really isn't surprising the company that approved the Aztec for production is the same company that almost went bust. It's all around a terrible vehicle and, like most Pontiac vehicles, has been a sales disaster.

RE: Seperated at birth
By Jedi2155 on 5/26/2010 4:10:22 AM , Rating: 2
Its not.

RE: Seperated at birth
By mckinney on 5/25/2010 6:13:28 PM , Rating: 2
Are you kidding, I gave it Five Turtlenecks in my review!!!

Heeeeey.. The minivan already has a crack in it
By Smartless on 5/25/2010 3:03:21 PM , Rating: 2
Oh sorry its a scan out of Motor Trend Japan. Shucks I had all my "stuck accelerator" jokes ready to go to. Man tough getting nice artist rendering of it huh?

By bhieb on 5/25/2010 4:25:23 PM , Rating: 2
Man tough getting nice artist rendering of it huh?
After all the negative Toyota PR on DT, are you surprised HQ won't talk to them?

By Brandon Hill on 5/25/2010 4:31:01 PM , Rating: 2
Hey, don't blame us. The pic is directly from's website ;)

By mckinney on 5/25/2010 6:05:25 PM , Rating: 2
That thing is "Dead Sexy"

Its like a bachelors dream come true....

God help us all...
By steelincable on 5/26/2010 9:51:03 AM , Rating: 3
I look forward to more gay prius drivers going below the speed limit. *sigh*

RE: God help us all...
By usbseawolf2000 on 5/26/2010 9:52:37 AM , Rating: 2
are you talking about the maximum or minimum speed limit? You know there is a minimum speed limit RIGHT????

RE: God help us all...
By Alexstarfire on 5/26/2010 10:55:57 AM , Rating: 2
I guess you're one of the people who think the speed limit is a suggestion and not an actual rule/law.

WooHoo Minivan
By Mitch101 on 5/25/2010 3:14:57 PM , Rating: 4
WooHoo Im rushing out to get the soccer ball sticker for the back tonight! Now my wife can be the snobbiest soccer mom with the greenest minivan.

RE: WooHoo Minivan
By Etern205 on 5/25/2010 3:51:07 PM , Rating: 2
That thing is definitely "green"!

And it looks like they they did was raise the back part of the car...

3 row seating?
By tlbj6142 on 5/25/2010 4:06:24 PM , Rating: 2
Is that big enough to have 3 rows of seating and rear storage?

IMO, if it doesn't have 3 rows (7 passenger capacity) and can carry a 4'x8' sheet of building material flat, it ain't a minivan.

RE: 3 row seating?
By CharonPDX on 5/25/2010 6:06:25 PM , Rating: 2
I can fit a stack of five 72x30 (6'x2.5') folding tables in a standard Prius flat just fine with the back seats folded down. I would have to imagine that any attempt to make it a minivan would make it able to hold 4'x8' easy.

I'm sure like most minivans, it'll be "grocery space" behind the third row, not real usable trans-continental-journey storage. I just hope one of the two rows is completely removable. When I don't need the extra passenger space, I don't want to haul around the weight of the third row, along with losing the space.

Soccer moms ...
By MarcLeFou on 5/25/2010 5:54:00 PM , Rating: 2
That's actually a segment where it makes sense to launch a Prius in.

All the Thirty-something with families around here are eco-nuts.

As long as it's not too expensive obviously. What's the selling price of these monstrosities anyway ?

RE: Soccer moms ...
By Octoberblue on 5/25/2010 8:14:39 PM , Rating: 2
Hey, I'm not an eco-nut, but if the price wasn't too terrible (which it probably will be) and if it wasn't quite so ugly, I would love to get that gas mileage. I'd like to have a prius or even a leaf myself, but only because of the gas mileage. (And the gadget factor of the leaf not having any exhaust is kinda cool.) But it remains to be seen if these types of cars will ever reach economies of scale necessary to make it worthwhile for someone like me.

By drycrust3 on 5/26/2010 2:19:02 AM , Rating: 2
Toyota's Prius has been a runaway success for the company.

Can this car do 90 mph and does it have a kill switch???

Didn't BYD already design one?
By docinct on 5/27/2010 2:44:45 PM , Rating: 2
Looks a lot like the Chinese BYD e6 doesn't it?

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