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Edmunds test drives the new Prius

Toyota is just now finally getting some stiff competition in the hybrid market after holding on to the "High MPG Crown" for quite some time. On the lower end, the Prius is being assaulted by Honda's relatively affordable second generation Insight which starts below $20,000. That vehicle is rated at 40 MPG/43 MPG (city/highway).

On the other end of the spectrum, Ford's $27,270 Fusion Hybrid brings more conventional styling to the table and a vastly improved driving experience compared to the appliance-like Prius. In addition, the Fusion Hybrid still manages to maintain EPA ratings of 41 MPG/36 MPG (city/highway), although Autoblog editors were able to extract 43 MPG combined from their test vehicle.

With the stakes in the hybrid market getting higher, Toyota is ready to dazzle with its third-generation Prius. We first got a glimpse of the new model back in mid-October and the Toyota official announced the new Prius at the Detroit Auto Show in early January. Now, Edmunds has gotten a chance to fully track test the model ahead of its scheduled rollout for American consumers.

First and foremost, Toyota should be able to consolidate costs a bit with the new Prius as it no longer rides on its own platform. Instead, the vehicle is based on the current MC platform that underpins the Toyota Corolla, Matrix, and Scion xB -- presumably, the MC platform will also be used for the upcoming Lexus HS 250h hybrid sedan.

Toyota also addressed both power and NVH (noise, vibration, and harshness) with the upgrade to a larger 1.8-liter four-cylinder engine (up from the 1.5-liter unit used in the previous model). The new engine not only allowed Toyota to improve the Prius' acceleration and increase fuel economy, but it also reduces the cacophony inside the cabin when the gasoline engine is running.

Other improvements include a smoother ride, more natural steering and brake feel, and an even more advanced set of features and options. The Prius can now be equipped with such features as solar panels on the roof to power the A/C system and a self-parking system for those that either can't be bothered with or are inept at parallel parking.

Most importantly, the new Prius definitely puts up impressive numbers when it comes to fuel economy. The new vehicle is rated a 50 MPG combined (city + highway). However, Edmunds was able to achieve 52.2 MPG combined during 115 miles of driving with 60% weighted towards highway miles. Edmunds figures that the numbers would creep up a few more MPG if the percentages were reversed seeing as how the Prius excels in around town situations where the electric motor can handle more of the propulsion duties.

Toyota hasn't yet announced pricing for its third-generation Prius, but expect the new vehicle's base price to hover around or slightly higher than the current $22,000.

Updated 3/25/2009
Autoblog's road test of the 2010 Prius shows that the vehicle is capable of much more than just 52.2 MPG:

The Prius' chief engineer, Akihiko Otsuka, drove a 33-mile route in and around Napa and averaged 62.9 mpg. During the drive week, he levied a Beat-The-Chief challenge to anyone who wanted to take him on. AutoblogGreen was able to get the in-dash display to read in the mid- to low-70s for most of the route, but the last ten miles on a busy 55-mph road dropped that to 64.5 mpg. Not bad, but only good for a standing near the absolute bottom of the rankings among other journalists. Overall, the best score was 94.6 mpg, although that involved some less-than-real-world driving behaviors and conditions. The best "honest" score was 75.3 mpg. In all, about half of the journalists were able to get over 70 mpg, while the rest, save two, were able to get more than 66 mpg.


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Wow
By PaxtonFettel on 3/25/2009 5:01:44 AM , Rating: 2
Does the fusion really get better mileage in city driving?




RE: Wow
By twjr on 3/25/2009 6:42:53 AM , Rating: 2
Yeah I saw the and smelled fish. Unless it is running entirely on batteries. But at some point and engine will have to turn on to charge the batteries.


RE: Wow
By Hiawa23 on 3/25/2009 10:46:12 AM , Rating: 2
I was curious, what kind power does the Prius has? I mean, when going up hills or something & you turn on the AC does the engine bog down like some smaller cars? Not that I could see myself buying one, as the body design is not my cup of tea & already own a Honda civic & Mitsu LAncer Ralliart & they seem to be priced too high for average Joe. 50MPG does seem to be impressive, although I am still baffled why gasoline engine technology still hasn't progress enough where the standard is 40MPG or better. Is this just not possible?


RE: Wow
By Screwballl on 3/25/09, Rating: -1
RE: Wow
By martinw on 3/25/2009 11:20:01 AM , Rating: 4
This sounds like you are just repeating an urban legend. The thing is, if you patent something it has to be public - that is part of the purpose of patents. Also patents expire after a fixed time, usually 14 to 20 years. So they cannot be "buried" by these evil companies.

If you have really seen them you should be able to post a link to them, and once they expire they are free for anyone to implement.


RE: Wow
By Mitch101 on 3/25/2009 12:43:50 PM , Rating: 2
Mythbusters did kind of an episode about these and its a bust.

I think its really impressive to take a gallon of gas and go 50 miles in something that's a few thousand pounds especially with me in it.

I want to point out that if oil companies had this ability they would do it. Why? Because their 100 year supply of oil would become a 1000 year supply of oil and they could just jack up the prices to retain making billions. The only thing that hurts oil companies is alternatives especially ones that don't have a 100 year supply limit and can be made from something as simple as algae.


RE: Wow
By Spuke on 3/25/2009 1:38:05 PM , Rating: 2
quote:
I want to point out that if oil companies had this ability they would do it.
Oil companies don't build cars. What are you talking about?


RE: Wow
By Mitch101 on 3/25/2009 2:53:37 PM , Rating: 1
Let me rephrase that then.

Oil companies would love 100mpg cars because it allows their 100 year supply to last even longer. The oil industry would not prevent 100mpg cars through patent prevention.

Its not like refineries can keep up with capacity needed so 100mpg cars will be needed.

Demand goes down they slow production and charge more. Demand goes way up we cant keep up with the refining process and the price still goes up. Oil wins until there are alternatives.

BTW spring is here expect gas to be on the rise again recession or now.


RE: Wow
By Spuke on 3/25/2009 3:46:24 PM , Rating: 2
Gotcha. Thanks for the explanation.


RE: Wow
By mindless1 on 3/25/2009 6:25:19 PM , Rating: 2
False, nobody at an oil company is thinking what it will do after everyone there is long dead.

Their goal is make as much profit NOW as possible.


RE: Wow
By shin0bi272 on 3/25/2009 8:29:35 PM , Rating: 1
versus environmentalists who are thinking thousands of years into the future and making everyone change their lives now to possibly maybe slightly effect the environment hundreds of years after they've died.


RE: Wow
By Tsuwamono on 4/2/2009 12:18:47 PM , Rating: 2
oh come on. Don't be ignorant. Its not like driving a nice new Chevy optra with 50MPG as opposed to a beat up old Prelude at 20MPG is hurting you so bad.

Most the stuff they ask you to do is like turn off your light bulbs and dont take 45 minute showers every day. Seriously is that so hard? Jerk off in your room instead of in the shower and turn off the lights when you leave a room. Its saves you money so why bitch about it?

They aren't asking you to start a compost heap in your back yard and wear special clothing and never take a dump.

They're asking you to save yourself money...

And FYI its not thousands of years. The earliest models are only a few decades off and most of the other models are at most 100 years.


RE: Wow
By TedE on 3/26/2009 12:07:37 PM , Rating: 2
Actually oil companies would hate this because demand would drop dramatically while supply wouldn't which would produce dramatic drops in the price of oil.

Of course, as oil prices drop the incentive to use it efficiently disappears so this would never happen. This is one of the major arguments *against* fuel efficiency standards. Fuel efficiency ultimately helps keep oil prices lower thereby *decreasing* the incentive to pursue more efficiency. Perverse but true.

If this seems counter-intuitive then consider that highway building has found the same phenomena that more highway capacity does *not* decrease congestion because the capacity helps reduce the disincentives to drive thereby attracting *more* drivers.

While from an investment standpoint this kind of market equilibrium is desirable, from an emissions standpoint it is not. Ultimately, if you want to control emissions (CO2 for example) you need to tie a disincentive directly to the emission. That means a carbon tax.


RE: Wow
By William Gaatjes on 3/28/2009 4:41:10 PM , Rating: 2
You are forgetting the manager that is only capable of short term thinking. He or she does not want a hundred years of profit. He or she want's it now so he or she can "live large".


RE: Wow
By Spuke on 3/25/2009 11:57:35 AM , Rating: 3
quote:
Is this just not possible?
I think we'll be seeing some 40mpg+ gas engines with the addition of tech like HCCI and the inclusion of Direct Injection in non-performance engines. My performance oriented Direct Injection engine already gets 28 mpg hwy (EPA). The smaller displacement DI engine in the new turbo Mini Cooper S gets 34 mpg (EPA). An engine tuned for fuel economy WITH a slippery body could get 40 mpg IMO. With the addition of HCCI, I think that over 40 mpg gas engined cars are possible. DI isn't expensive to add and you'll see more cars with it in the near future. The new Chevy Cruze is supposed to get 40 mpg with a DI 1.4L turbo (140hp too).


RE: Wow
By dubyadubya on 3/25/2009 4:38:08 PM , Rating: 3
There are two main reasons newer gasoline powered vehicles are not getting the MPG they could or should. First the fuel in the US is oxygenated. 10% of each gallon is alcohol or a derivative of it. An engine burning alcohol gets about 1/2 the fuel economy that it would burning gasoline. So using 10% oxygenated fuel knocks 5% of the fuel economy right off the top.

The bigger culprit is the emissions standards in the US. First you must understand that a internal combustion engine is a air pump. To run correctly and have a chance of meeting the emission standards the air fuel ratio must be maintained at or near 14.7 to 1. To get maximum MPG a vehicles engine needs to pump as little air per mile as possible. This means anything that increase the amount of air pumped will lower the MPG.

Things that can increase an engines MPG. decrease its displacement, turn less RPM's, run a leaner air fuel ratio and or run more ignition timing. Leaner air fuel ratio's will raise emissions so will running more ignition timing. Anything that can keep the throttle plate as close to closed as possible will increase MPG because less air in means less fuel used.

In the past emission standards were loose enough that many engines ran ignition timings of 40-60 degrees BTC when cruising at a steady speed. To a point the more timing you run the less you have to open the throttle to maintain speed. Most newer engines run very little ignition timing because doing so raises cylinder temperatures increasing NOX emissions.

I have a 1991 Ford Crown Victoria with a 302 V8. I average about 18-20 MPG round town. On the open road can get 23-26 MPG. Last summer I made a road trip and got 26 MPG on the way there and 24 MPG on the way home. This was driving 70 mph with the AC on. Now how is this possible? Ignition timing and tall gears. The gears keep the RPM's down and the timing keeps the throttle near closed.

I would guess new cars are loosing 20-30% or more of their potential fuel economy do to poor fuel and tight emission standards. The only way I see around this problem is to build small high torque engines that are under square aka small bore and a long stroke. DI and turbo charging should help get some performance back but I'm sure we will loose the 6 seconds to 60 grocery getter's for good.



RE: Wow
By FITCamaro on 3/25/2009 9:43:47 PM , Rating: 2
Yup. As I said in another article, the 2004 GTO had a lean cruise option in Australia. But here in the US it wasn't enabled because it's NOX emissions were too high. Gotta love those insane emissions standards that put a fake environmental problem before better mpg which would decrease gasoline consumption (another thing they whine about).


RE: Wow
By Tsuwamono on 4/2/2009 12:09:44 PM , Rating: 2
Its certainly possible. Canadian versions of the Chevy Optra I believe is 50MPG and the Ford Focus is 49. Look around. There are plenty of examples of gasoline cars getting better mileage then hybrids.

I wont be buying a hybrid EVER unless its in the form of the Chevy volt. If not its just another thing to break that doesnt help me.

If i want to save money on gas most likely its because my current car costs me alot of MONEY in gas. So why would i go spend 35,000 on a car that has the same or less fuel economy then one that costs 9,999?

If I'm hurting that bad for fuel economy because it costs me money then why would I pay triple the price for the same size car basicly but alot heavier and with a ton more stuff to break?

I would think that if gas is breaking the bank for you, Hybrids aren't really the greatest idea.

Hell my 97 Ford Ranger gets better gas mileage on the highway then the Prius and thats where I do all my driving.


RE: Wow
By Sahrin on 3/25/2009 7:39:01 AM , Rating: 5
Most hybrids (I think all - the only exceptions may be the GM "mild" hybrids which just have a bigger starter motor) get better fuel economy in the city; it's because at city speeds the vehicle requires less power and has more opportunity to regenerate free power (that is the battery is constantly being regenerated through braking and rolling) whereas on the highway, there is one very large continuous drain on the battery with very little regeneration at all.


RE: Wow
By mmcdonalataocdotgov on 3/25/09, Rating: 0
RE: Wow
By Kuroyama on 3/25/2009 9:11:22 AM , Rating: 2
While that is widely reported, it's wrong. The Prius gets excellent mileage at moderate speeds with occasional stops. I don't know what the EPA test involves, but I'm guessing that's what they call "city driving." For instance I get around 55mpg when I drive around 50mph with a stop only every mile or so. When driving 75mph on the highway it drops to around 45mpg. However, when I am in stop & go traffic my fuel economy drops to around 30mpg. Far better than what a regular car would get in stop & go traffic, but not what most people expect.


RE: Wow
By shin0bi272 on 3/25/09, Rating: -1
RE: Wow
By 67STANG on 3/25/2009 10:32:41 AM , Rating: 5
Instead, you're in a different ugly heap.


RE: Wow
By shin0bi272 on 3/25/2009 8:12:22 PM , Rating: 3
granted its not as elegant as a 67 mustang but compared to a prius its a hell of a lot better looking. And apparently raw numbers and my opinion on the ugliness of the prius garner a -1 rating... ahh the eco freaks strike again.


RE: Wow
By martinw on 3/25/2009 8:47:49 PM , Rating: 2
So everyone who disagrees with your opinion of the design of the vehicle is an "ecofreak"? Perhaps you could try fewer ad-hominems and put more thought into your post? Sometimes a worthless comment is just a worthless comment and it is rated down for that reason and not because some external group is out to get you.


RE: Wow
By invidious on 3/25/09, Rating: -1
RE: Wow
By AnnihilatorX on 3/25/2009 10:01:01 AM , Rating: 3
The op you replied to used the word regenerate, not generate. I don't get the point you are saying the op is dumb.

Regenerative braking works by storing back, with a efficiency hit, the kinetic energy back as electrical energy. Of course everyone knows it's not 100% efficient. And energy is not created but obtained from the kinetic energy, which had to be transferred from either the battery or gas/petrol in the first place.

At city driving it is the battery that do most of the work towards efficiency. (A major reason for a electrical system in cars anyway is its ability to recoup energy from braking, and so act as a source of energy input). In highway the efficiency is determined solely by the efficiency of the engine itself.

That's the point of hybrid car. Improve city mileage by lessening impact of start and stop traffic, which petrol engine is not efficient at because of the lack of ability to regenerate from braking, and auto equally important, inefficient due to accelerating at a suboptimal engine rpm.


RE: Wow
By shin0bi272 on 3/25/2009 10:12:33 AM , Rating: 1
the law of conservation of energy that energy can never be created or destroyed only change forms...


RE: Wow
By invidious on 3/25/09, Rating: 0
RE: Wow
By JazzMang on 3/25/2009 11:07:25 AM , Rating: 2
LMAO

Yes... and what was your point exactly?


RE: Wow
By Starcub on 3/25/2009 11:13:29 AM , Rating: 3
Energy that would otherwise be lost to heat can instead be converted in electricity.


RE: Wow
By chrnochime on 3/25/2009 11:14:39 AM , Rating: 3
Thank you for enlightening us with that nugget of knowledge that every HS kid knows.

And it's braking, not breaking damn it.


RE: Wow
By AnnihilatorX on 3/25/2009 6:52:07 PM , Rating: 2
quote:
the law of conservation of energy that energy can never be created or destroyed only change forms...


Do you guys read what people post really except maybe the first line.


RE: Wow
By Mortando on 3/25/2009 1:03:07 PM , Rating: 2
quote:
Im not sure I could handle explaining everything wrong with your understanding of physics.

I, for one, would love to see you attempt to do that.


RE: Wow
By mindless1 on 3/25/2009 6:32:52 PM , Rating: 2
That is completely backwards. There is not 100% regeneration efficiency, it takes more power to speed up and slow down continually, MUCH more even if braking recaptures some. Coasting, or rolling without power input regenerates nothing, that would be a constant drag causing even more power loss due to higher engine duty cycle.

Perhaps what you meant was they suffer less fuel economy loss in city driving than ICE counter products, but they all get much better MPG when "there is one very - continuous drain on the battery", running at a constant speed without speeding up or slowing down, so long as that speed isn't excessively high.


RE: Wow
By Spivonious on 3/25/2009 8:30:26 AM , Rating: 2
It can go up to 45mph with no gas used at all. That would definitely increase the city gas mileage.


RE: Wow
By Hulk on 3/25/2009 10:19:54 AM , Rating: 3
Hybrids get better mileage in city driving than highway. It's simple energy conservation really.

At highway speeds aerodynamic drag is significant and is the chief force requiring energy (gas) to propel the vehicle. It cannot be reclaimed by any technology.

At city speeds aerodynamic drag is low so braking is the main reason gas mileage is bad. You accelerate you brake, lather, rinse, repeat. But with regenerative braking you can reclaim much of that energy to use to accelerate again. Now you are left with losses primarily from tire friction (low) and aerodynamic drag (lower than highway speeds).

This is why European manufacturers aren't very concerned with hybrids. They travel at high speeds where hybrids don't do much. So they concentrate on diesels and other ways to extract more energy from a given amount of fuel.

Of course diesel hybrids will be the best of both worlds but at this point we crack as much gas from our crude in the US so there is little diesel left to sell, hence the high price for it.


RE: Wow
By HaB1971 on 3/25/2009 10:55:22 AM , Rating: 2
quote:
This is why European manufacturers aren't very concerned with hybrids. They travel at high speeds where hybrids don't do much


Yes, they do travel so fast everywhere. So much so, that they can travel across London at the same speed as a Horse and Cart (which is the actual average speed of driving in London).

quote:
Of course diesel hybrids will be the best of both worlds but at this point we crack as much gas from our crude in the US so there is little diesel left to sell, hence the high price for it.


You do realize that refining a single barrel of oil produces multitudes of different products. It is not like you suck all of the hydrocarbons out of it to produce only gasoline.

Here's a link for you I used a magical thing called Google to find it. http://www.txoga.org/articles/308/1/WHAT-A-BARREL-...


RE: Wow
By chrnochime on 3/25/2009 11:17:53 AM , Rating: 2
When you said horse and cart, it brings up that image of one of the early primitive ICE(the other ice, not the cold one) powered horse cart that had a (fake) horse head at the front to prevent passengers from freaking out because there was not horse at the front pulling their cart.


RE: Wow
By chrnochime on 3/25/2009 11:18:45 AM , Rating: 2
"no horse", not "not horse".


RE: Wow
By martinw on 3/25/2009 11:41:53 AM , Rating: 3
quote:
You do realize that refining a single barrel of oil produces multitudes of different products. It is not like you suck all of the hydrocarbons out of it to produce only gasoline.


Refineries can vary their process to produce more or less of each fraction to some extent. In the US the process is tuned to produce more gasoline, in Europe, more diesel. I think that was the OPs point.


RE: Wow
By HaB1971 on 3/25/2009 2:15:27 PM , Rating: 2
quote:
Refineries can vary their process to produce more or less of each fraction to some extent. In the US the process is tuned to produce more gasoline, in Europe, more diesel. I think that was the OPs point.


Really? so the link breaking down what is obatined from a barrel of oil that is from the Texas Oil and Gas Assocaition would be how Europe does it then?


RE: Wow
By martinw on 3/25/2009 2:27:22 PM , Rating: 2
I'm not sure what point you are trying to make. The op was saying there is not much diesel left over in the US refinery process compared with the European one. You posted the link to the Texas breakdown in response. I assumed you were trying to make the point there was plenty of diesel left over, but your link said nothing about the relative amounts produced in Europe and the US. So what are you trying to say?


RE: Wow
By HaB1971 on 3/25/2009 3:02:06 PM , Rating: 2
My point is that using fractional distillation how can you extract more gasoline from oil than the process allows? You can increase the octane level of gasoline through other processes but you still can not produce more gasoline out of a given amount of oil, it separates into its various components at different temperatures. Hold the temperature at say 150 degrees still won't produce any more gasoline that is already in oil.

Provide figures for your differences between the US and Europe Diesel production.


RE: Wow
By Gentleman on 3/25/2009 5:14:51 PM , Rating: 3
There is a process after that will break up a longer diesel/kerosine hydrocarbon chain into small ones and these are then formed into gasoline hydrocarbon chains. Fractional distillation only extracts the naturally occuring gasoline in oil, i think something like 20-30%. But the secondary process can increase it to something like 60-70% if i remember correctly. The price you pay for is less of other useful hydrocarbon products.


RE: Wow
By martinw on 3/25/2009 5:15:48 PM , Rating: 3
quote:
My point is that using fractional distillation how can you extract more gasoline from oil than the process allows? You can increase the octane level of gasoline through other processes but you still can not produce more gasoline out of a given amount of oil, it separates into its various components at different temperatures. Hold the temperature at say 150 degrees still won't produce any more gasoline that is already in oil.


You are correct that for fractional distillation there is a fixed amount of gasoline extracted from the oil. However refineries do much more than fractional distillation. They take the heavier fractions and break them down into lighter components such as gasoline and diesel by various catalytic cracking processes. Depending on which process is used it is possible to generate more gasoline or more diesel from these components. For example fluid catalytic cracking generates more gasoline while hydrocracking generates more diesel from the same heavy distillate fractions. You can google these terms for references.

These cracking processes can generate a very significant additional amount of gasoline or diesel, up to doubling the amount of total gasoline produced over simple fractional distillation in some cases.

Unfortunately in a quick search I couldn't find a link giving the exact difference in fraction of diesel produced in the US vs Europe.


RE: Wow
By Jimbo1234 on 3/25/2009 2:15:12 PM , Rating: 2
You don't realize it, but you have it backwords.

Europeans should be concerned about hybrids and less about diesels. In N.A. we should put our effort into diesels, not hybrids.

Most driving in N.A. is over long distances at highway speeds. Quite the opposite in Europe. Been there, done that.


RE: Wow
By Solandri on 3/25/2009 4:33:04 PM , Rating: 2
quote:
Of course diesel hybrids will be the best of both worlds but at this point we crack as much gas from our crude in the US so there is little diesel left to sell, hence the high price for it.

Diesel costs more in the U.S. because most of the oil from the U.S. has a higher sulfur content than from elsewhere. This has led to more stringent environmental regulations for diesel engine emissions in the U.S. than in other countries. So diesels are less popular, leading to less demand which causes the disparity you cite between the ratio of gasoline and diesel produced. The emissions regulations also require the diesel be scrubbed of many of the sulfur compounds, which adds costs, leading to diesel being more expensive to produce than gasoline.

Also, other countries typically tax their gasoline pretty heavily. They don't tax diesel as heavily (if at all) since trucks are the primary users, and taxing it would inflate the cost of transporting goods, which would cause prices to rise in all other sectors of the economy. In the U.S., both gasoline and diesel are not taxed much, so gasoline is relatively cheaper in the U.S, which again leads to less demand for diesel cars.


RE: Wow
By HaB1971 on 3/25/2009 5:34:56 PM , Rating: 2
quote:
Also, other countries typically tax their gasoline pretty heavily. They don't tax diesel as heavily (if at all) since trucks are the primary users


Thats not necessarily true as in the UK the fuel tax is the same between Unleaded and Diesel, though each country is different and each state in the US collects different taxes on top of Federal taxes.

Plus ULSD (Ultra-Low Sulphur Diesel) has a mandated June 1 2010 adoption date. So there is no reason why the efficient 75mpg cars can not be imported to the US.
Will be nice to have the twin turbo V6 diesel Jag which will go 850 miles on a single tank. (specs say 650 miles but it will go beyond that as per Top Gear tests)


RE: Wow
By Spuke on 3/25/2009 6:27:18 PM , Rating: 2
quote:
So there is no reason why the efficient 75mpg cars can not be imported to the US.
CARB is the main reason that diesel has not been adopted in the US. Only recently have diesel emissions equipment been good enough to meet emissions standards in the US. And with CA given the go ahead (or will be given the go ahead) on making emissions regs even tighter, there's no telling if the present diesel emissions equipment will be good enough meet near future regs.

In short, diesel has been practically banned in the US because of emissions regulations with the exception of commercial vehicles.


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