Intent on maintaining its dominant competitive position in the hybrid world, Toyota has announced that pricing for its new 2010 Prius will start at $21,750, nearly $1,000 less than the entry-level version of the 2009 model that it replaces. Equally important, it means the third-generation Prius will open just $1,280 above Honda's equally new 2010 Insight Hybrid -- which is a slightly smaller package and earns EPA city/highway ratings of 40/43 mpg compared to the Toyota's 51/48 mpg marks. Toyota will offer Prius buyers the choice of five different equipment levels when the car goes on sale in late May. However, the new base model won't be available until slightly later in the year.
Bob Carter, group vice president and general manager of the Toyota Division, anticipates that the volume leader will be the Level II package that opens at $22,750 but includes over $2000 in added value items relative to the 2009 base Prius. The Level III Prius will carry an MSRP of $23,750 and add items like a JBL premium sound system, Bluetooth hands-free capability and integrated satellite radio capability as well as allow buyers to opt for the available Navigation and Solar Roof Packages. Stepping up to the $26,550 Level IV Prius adds luxurious touches like leather upholstery, heated front seats, Smart Key and Homelink while the top-line Level V model includes LED headlamps, integrated fog lamps and 17-inch alloy wheels in its $28,020 price of entry. It's also the only Prius model available with the Advanced Technology Package that matches the Navigation Package with Dynamic Radar Cruise Control, the Pre-Collision System, Lane Keep Assist and Intelligent Parking Assist.
All 2010 Prius variants will share the same Toyota Hybrid Synergy Drive system that allows operation using the gasoline engine, the electric motor or both. Here, it pairs a 98-horsepower/1.8-liter four-cylinder Atkinson Cycle engine with a 60-kilowatt traction motor fed by a nickel-metal hydride battery. Together, they make a combined 134 horsepower that heads to the front wheels via a continuously variable automatic transmission (CVT). Other common features include Vehicle Stability Control, Traction Control, anti-lock disc brakes with regenerative circuitry and seven airbags.