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
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.
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
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.
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.
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
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
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