By KBB.com Editors
The Latin word prius means "to go before." Used as a vehicle name, it certainly fits the world's first mass-produced and best-selling hybrid, with well over a million sold to date. The Toyota Prius, now in its third generation for 2010, has gone from being the quirky vehicle of choice for those wanting to live a greener lifestyle to a mainstream and fuel-thrifty mode of transportation appealing to families and empty-nesters alike. And, along the way, it has inspired other car companies to increase their efforts in the hybrid market. However, when it comes to covering the most ground using the least amount of fuel, the Prius handily takes the cake from its competitors with its EPA-estimated 51/48 city/highway mpg ratings.
If getting the most mileage out of each tank of gas is high on your list, the 2010 Prius is a stellar choice. With EPA-estimated city/highway fuel economy ratings of 51/48 mpg, your fill-ups will be few and far between no matter the road you take.
Fully loaded, the Prius may not be what you consider a bargain at $32,500, even with potential future fuel-pump savings in mind. Those who are leaning towards a hybrid but want to save more upfront may be interested in the somewhat similar-looking (but smaller) Honda Insight, which starts in the $20,000-range and maxes out just under $24,000.
For 2010, the Toyota Prius enters its third generation, with a thorough revamping that includes new styling inside and out, a larger, more powerful engine and, as expected, even better fuel economy.
Driving Impressions Like all hybrids, driving the 2010 Toyota Prius is a remarkably quiet experience. The transition between gasoline engine and electric motor (most commonly felt while idling at a light), is...even smoother in this generation, making it almost imperceptible. The new "EV," "Eco" and "Power" buttons are welcome additions, allowing the driver to exercise a little more control over the vehicle's fuel consumption and throttle response. While pressing "EV" operates the car in ultra-quiet electric-only mode (battery power, speed and distance permitting), choosing "Eco" modifies the throttle response so that no matter how lead-footed or determined a driver may be, the vehicle won't rapidly accelerate. This mode also affects the air conditioning operation and shuts it off when the vehicle is left idling. On the flip side, the "Power" button, when pushed, increases throttle response, allowing for more lively acceleration akin to a regular gas-powered four-cylinder vehicle. We can say that after considerable time driving in all three modes – on a healthy mix of both road and highway – our fuel economy numbers easily trumped those of the EPA without much effort.
Solar Roof Package
Opting for the Solar Roof Package nets you a power moonroof that self-ventilates (thanks to solar cells mounted on top) to help keep the car at a constant temperature. And, just to be sure the interior is at a comfortable temperature upon entering, using the A/C button on the key fob allows managing the interior temperature for up to three minutes from afar, provided the vehicle's battery is well charged.
Although the Prius is a lean, green, gas-saving machine, sometimes a little more power is warranted. For those situations, putting the car into "Power" mode gives you some extra oomph to get where you need to go.
The interior of the Prius has been significantly updated for its third generation, and is best appreciated in the lighter interior color choices, which create more of a two-tone effect. The new contoured dash is the most notable of these changes, imprinted with a "swirl" pattern of sorts and housing a vehicle information cluster that shows a variety of fuel-usage related displays accessible through Touch Tracer Display "wheels" on the steering wheel. These touch-sensitive button wheels control the radio volume, station, information display and air conditioning temperature and, to help drivers keep their eyes on the road by not having to look down when making a selection, the information is repeated in the vehicle information cluster. In a nod to using more ecologically sound materials in the cabin, plant-derived (and recyclable) resin plastics are used in various forms, most notably the driver's-side seat cushion and door scuffs.Exterior
The now-familiar aerodynamic profile first introduced on the second-generation Prius returns for 2010, but changes have been made to further enhance its energy-saving design. Visually, these modifications include new energy-efficient LED taillights and sharper, more squared-off edges that improve the vehicle's coefficient of drag. And, in order to allow for more rear headroom, the apex of the roof has been moved back, giving the hybrid a windswept look from the side. As in the previous generation, the base Prius rides on 15-inch wheels, while buyers wanting a sportier-looking hybrid can opt for the Prius V and its 17-inchers.
The base 2010 Toyota Prius II comes equipped with a wide variety of standard features, including a tilt/telescopic steering wheel with A/C controls and Touch Tracer Display, height-adjustable driver's seat, auto up/down on all windows, push-button start, two 12-volt power outlets, a tonneau cover and auxiliary input jack. Moving up to the Prius III adds an upgraded JBL AM/FM/CD changer with satellite radio, Bluetooth and eight speakers, while the Prius IV trim is enhanced with a leather interior, heated front seats with driver's lumbar support and an auto-dimming rearview mirror. The top-of-the-line Prius V adds 17-inch alloy wheels and energy-saving LED headlamps and foglamps.
Techno-savvy Prius shoppers will likely be interested in the optional power moonroof with solar-powered ventilation and remote A/C operation to help keep the vehicle cool. A number of advanced safety systems are also available for the top-of-the-line Prius V, including Dynamic Radar Cruise Control, the Pre-Collision System, Lane Keep Assist and Intelligent Parking Assist, all offered in the Advanced Technology Package - which includes the Navigation Package.
The 2010 Toyota Prius is powered by a 1.8-liter four-cylinder Atkinson-cycle gasoline engine matched with an electronically-controlled continuously-variable transmission. It is rated at 98 horsepower, and is a step up from the previous generation's, which was a 1.5-liter powerplant that offered only 76 horsepower. The total hybrid system horsepower (gasoline engine and electric motor combined) for 2009 was only 110, but for 2010 it's up to 134. The 2010 Prius' fuel economy ratings of 51 city/48 highway eclipse those of the previous generation, and individuals wishing to max out their mileage can make use of the vehicle's "Eco" button, which modulates throttle responses and air conditioning operation to improve fuel efficiency. On the other end of the spectrum is the "Power" button, which increases throttle response to allow for faster acceleration, a boon to anyone trying to get up to freeway speed quickly.
1.8-liter in-line 4 with 60-kilowatt Permanent Magnetic Synchronous Electric Motor Atkinson Cycle Hybrid
98 horsepower @ 5200 rpm (gasoline engine); 80 horsepower (electric motor); 134 hp net total hybrid system
105 lb.-ft. of torque @ 4000 rpm (gasoline engine); 153 ft.-lb. of torque (electric motor)
EPA estimated city/highway fuel economy: 51/48
By Greg on Friday, July 25, 2014
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 18,000overall rating 10 of 10rating details
Pros: "Perfect car for one driver, great mileage."
Cons: "No drivers memory seat."
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 1
"Would buy another if they had a drivers memory seat, should offer sun roof on the Prius 5 (not to be confused with the Prius V), which is available on the cheaper models,ie. 2,3,4. Passenger seat isn't as comfortable as the drivers. They should at least offer options like the above but they don't. Deal breakers."
2 people out of 3 found this review helpful
By slowmo on Thursday, July 24, 2014
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 15,000overall rating 5 of 10rating details
Pros: "saves at the pump"
Cons: "high service costs, slow , boring and not to safe"
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 3
"well thought this would be a money saver with high prices at the pump but with scheduled service at the dealership almost every other month and at thier over inflated prices. As i sit in the waiting room during my time off talking to other owners all we talk about is the great mpg, but once you add in all the manditory service costs its doesnt add up too well. I drove a ford for years and only changed oil this thing has a ton of little gremlins that are always there. the dealer tries to sell you on its so high tech and bla bla. Its an ok ride but dont feel safe either as there have been a lot a battery fails and you can feel the heat when you drive up a hill or strain the car with a little load. Ill keep it it for a while but will for sure sell it before the short warrenty is up. if the quality was so good why dont they raise it past 3/36 like 90% of the other companies???"
By Roger on Wednesday, July 23, 2014
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 20,000overall rating 10 of 10rating details
Pros: "Fun driving machine"
Cons: "Can't think of any negatives."
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 10
"I have never owned a car as much fun to drive than this Prius. It has all the bells and whistles with satellite radio, solar vent system, navigation, moon roof and Bluetooth. The extra power acceleration is more than adequate and I have no regret giving this car an absolute 10. I enjoy passing gas stations with my 50mpg in all types of driving."
By JB on Tuesday, July 15, 2014
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 108,999overall rating 10 of 10rating details
Pros: "Enjoy pulling by an SUV at the gas pump"
Cons: "need a back up camera"
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 10
"I purchased this vehicle used with 10,000 miles on it. Since then it has been driven 100 miles a day back and forth to work for 3 years. It was driven over 3200 miles in two weeks up and down the East Coast three years ago. The vehicle was recently driven cross country and back putting over 6000 miles in two weeks this year. We spent $512 in gas and did not have any problems with the vehicle. I am thrilled with my Prius! It has 108,569 miles on it and is a 2010 model. I plan to purchase a "luxury" prius next time."
10 people out of 14 found this review helpful
By Princess on Thursday, June 19, 2014
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 85,000overall rating 9 of 10rating details
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 9
"Great mileage (45+/-), comfortable ride, but I wish it had electric seats. Great legroom. A real workhorse -- we stuff it sometimes with plants, mulch, furniture for donation. Does have a blind spot that is worrisome on the left rear."
16 people out of 21 found this review helpful
By Dukeman35 on Monday, June 16, 2014
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 1,000overall rating 10 of 10rating details
Pros: "Solar fan is great"
Cons: "Highbeam indicator on far right"
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 10
"This is my second Prius. I am totally delighted with this one. I have been averaging over 53 mph. I have been driving a Prius for over 8 1/2 years. Some slight repairs along the way. I just like them. Especially at the gas pump, it makes me smile. Enjoy the ride."
9 people out of 17 found this review helpful