Intent on broadening the appeal of its best-selling hybrid model among the rising ranks of eco-enthusiasts, Toyota called upon its Toyota Racing Development operation to create a new line of functional bolt-on bits that it plans to start marketing under the "PLUS" brand name. The automaker used its appearance at the SEMA Show to give the public a sneak peek at the first vehicle it plans to make available with this TRD-spec kit, the 2011 Toyota Prius PLUS Performance Package.
While the Hybrid Synergy Drive system in this envelope-expanding Prius remains unchanged -- as do its stellar EPA ratings -- the PLUS parts add a new dimension to the car's appearance and handling. That revamp starts with a seven-piece aerokit that includes new front and rear bumper "spoilers," side skirts and a more efficient rear diffuser that combine to keep the coefficient of drag at a slippery 0.25. A set of custom five-spoke 17-inch alloy wheels featuring a deeper offset to increase the car's track dimensions are wrapped in oversized 215/45 tires that still maintain the same degree of rolling resistance.
TRD addressed the handling of this PLUS-type Prius with a variety of well-proven techniques. Shorter, sport-spec springs lower ride height and center of gravity while sharpening the overall responsiveness and a rear stabilizer bar keeps the car flatter through corners. Two other elements complete the 2011 Toyota Prius PLUS Performance Package, exterior badging with a "PLUS" logo and custom floormats that also carry the new branding ID. Although not a formal Prius model, the first lot of these dedicated accessory items that make up the Prius PLUS Performance Package will go on sale in limited quantities starting next spring. Pricing for the individual parts as well as the collective kit will be released closer to their arrival at dealers.