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2010 Toyota Prius: More Tech, More MPG

By KBB.com Editors on March 10, 2009 2:49 PM
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Looking for information on the 2010 Toyota Prius? You've come to the right place. While we can't say anything about how it drives just yet, we can tell you a bit about what you can expect to see when it hits dealerships in late spring 2009.

Let's begin with standard equipment. Powering Toyota's third-gen hybrid is a larger 1.8-liter Atkinson-cycle four-cylinder powerplant that, along with an electric motor, produces a combined net horsepower of 134 -- an increase of 24 horses over the last generation. Fuel economy also sees an improvement, now coming in at 51 city and 48 highway, an overall step up of approaching 10 percent. While many wouldn't equate a larger engine with better fuel economy, the 1.8-liter under the hood produces more torque than the previous 1.5-liter, thereby running at a lower average rpm on the highway and using less fuel. Toyota also says the new Prius benefits from improved efficiency in cold-weather startup conditions.

The all-new Prius features an all-new interior, highlights of which include plant-derived carbon-neutral plastics and a five-inch multi-information display that provides visual feedback regarding energy usage, hybrid system status, current fuel consumption (now in one- and five-minute increments for those die-hard mileage junkies), past fuel consumption records and trip information. This information is toggled via new circular, touch-sensitive steering wheel-mounted controls.

Located near the aforementioned display are three buttons, labeled "Eco Mode," "EV" and "Power Mode." Pressing "Eco Mode" modifies throttle response and air conditioning operation to maximize efficiency. If "EV" is selected, driving up to 25 mph for a short distance in pure electric mode is possible (battery permitting) to allow for quiet operation of the vehicle for a short period of time. Lastly, for those who need a little extra oomph to get moving -- like when merging onto a highway, for example -- pushing the "Power Mode" button increases throttle response to optimize acceleration. Standard equipment aside, those looking to truly outfit their 2010 Prius in brag-worthy technology should look into the vehicle's available options like the Solar Roof Package. Although Toyota isn't exactly a pioneer in making this kind of roof available (the first was available on the Mazda 929 in the early '90s and Audi currently offers one on the A8), it serves as a source of power for the ventilation system included in the package, allowing the vehicle to be cooled with outside air when the ignition is off. This package also includes a remote-start air conditioning function (turned on via the key fob), which can run for up to three minutes prior to entering the vehicle to cool the interior.

Other trick technology making its way to the Prius -- all grouped together in the aptly-named Advance Technology Package -- includes Dynamic Radar Cruise Control and Lane Keep Assist, both of which help keep the driver aware of their relation to other cars and to their own lane while on the road. The package also includes Intelligent Parking Assist, which drivers in more urban locales may find particularly useful when parallel parking.

And while there is plenty more we can say about the 2010 Toyota Prius, we can't publish it until later. Stay tuned for our driving impressions.

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