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 Mochi2012 on Sunday, March 01, 2015
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 48,000overall rating 7 of 10rating details
Pros: "gas price"
Cons: "blind spots and low bottom"
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 1
"I am a Toyota loyalist. After 10 years of my Toyota RAV4, I swore I needn't look at anything but Toyotas ever again. Now after 3 years with a Prius, I am revising that vow. The Prius does save money on gas ... not the 50 mpg it claims ... usually more like 41-2. Not bad, but not as advertised. Worst, though, is that the Prius has terrible blind spots. I tell all my friends never to cross left to right in front of a Prius; the driver cannot see you. I can't tell you how many times I have almost hit a pedestrian. Other Prius drivers complain of this too. In addition, compared to the higher RAV4, the Prius scrapes bottom if there's the slightest uphill grade in a driveway. I wish Toyota would make the RAV4 a hybrid."
By Lesllie on Thursday, February 26, 2015
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 10,000overall rating 1 of 10rating details
Pros: "I like the color and mileage"
Cons: "way too many to list. See the review for details"
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 1
"Worst purchase I've ever made in my life. I paid a lot of money for this new car. It is a cheaply constructed car. Seems that Toyota cuts corners in construction to make the car lighter so it gets better mileage. There are so many rattles, buzzes, and shaking noises, all the time, literally. I've stopped taking it to the dealer to try and fix, after taking it in FIVE times to fix one glove compartment area rattle. This car has tremendous road noise. Definitely noisier than the 1997 Honda Accord, which I thought was pretty noisy. I can't stand the hatchback. You have to manually open and close it; no release button. So unless your car is clean all the time, your hands (or gloves) get dirty. I always stored a lot of stuff in the trunk of my previous cars. To hide anything in the Prius hatch area, you have to pull the cover and hook it. The vertical height with the cover on is pretty short. You can’t put a daypack in vertically; has to be laid down. Shopping bags barely fit. The bottom portion of the hatch window gets so dirty so fast. You have to manually wipe it to clean it; gas station wipers don't work. And "drive-through" car washes don't dry it. The windshield wiper on the upper portion of the hatch window only lifts up an inch or so. That makes it rather difficult to clean the outer portion of the window. The bar in middle of the hatch window obstructs the view. I actually feel unsafe driving sometimes, if the window is a bit dirty—and it doesn’t take much for it to get dirty enough to affect seeing out of it. You cannot adjust the rearview mirror for night driving. Supposedly it “auto” adjusts. Well, if your eyes are light sensitive as mine are, forget it. So I have bright headlights in my rearview mirror all the time. Want to listen to your fancy schmancy radio? Just try it! The dealer told me it’s a well-known issue for the Prius that the radio reception fades in and out a lot, and there is no fix for it. I live in a large metro area and it happens all the time. My Honda never had a problem with radio reception. I bought the very expensive extra package so I could have a sunroof. Mistake! The sunroof, when open at any distance, is so noisy! I’ve had sun roofs in all my cars and this is the noisiest. I rarely use it. I have never used the extra HD stuff that comes with the package. So, a total throwaway. Front window all fogged up? Well, wait 5 minutes for it to clear up enough to drive safely, with the defrost blasting at full speed. Literally, I have sat multiple times in a bus park and ride lot, at 11pm for 5 minutes before I could see enough to drive. The windows fog up way more easily than any other car I’ve driven. No idea why. Very frustrating. I typically drive with the rear defrost on, because otherwise the rear window tends to fog up. I’m the only person in the car. Shouldn’t fog up like that, especially when it’s not raining or humid. And why does Toyota think that I want the front defrost to always go on full blast??? If I don’t want that, I have to be ready to push the down arrow on the air volume to stop it at the level I want. I generally don’t need the defrost at full blast (except as noted above). The front end is so low to the ground, it doesn’t clear a lot of parking lot space curb dividers. I’ve given up trying to not scratch it."
By LovePrius on Thursday, February 26, 2015
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 2,000overall rating 10 of 10rating details
Pros: "Great price, save gas"
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 10
"I have own so many cars, Honda, Ford, Acura, Mazda, Scion, Toyota highlander , Camry, and this is the best car I have ever had, love it, should have bought them years ago, could have save over $$$$$ just in gas. Great single or family car. not for racing."
2 people out of 2 found this review helpful
By VAJEFF on Tuesday, February 24, 2015
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 45,000overall rating 10 of 10rating details
Pros: "Fun to drive and makes me feel good."
Cons: "Still thinking....."
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 10
"After 3 years of lease time I was looking forward to the purchase today. I loved a Corolla many years ago and a couple Camry's since then, but it's such a good feeling to cruise down the road, relatively smooth and quiet, and knowing that this car is being pushed along with only a gallon of gasoline per 50 miles or more. It's not a racecar and wouldn't do well at the track, but I'm not a topnotch driver and enjoy curves not necessarily on a country road. Nothing wrong with that, but the Prius is a good car, woth the investment...so far."
1 person out of 1 found this review helpful
By Chad on Sunday, February 22, 2015
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 70,900overall rating 10 of 10rating details
Pros: "Very reliable and low maint."
Cons: "Hard for a larger person to ride in it comfortablE"
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 9
"I have owned three generation of prius and I have been very pleased with reliability and resale value, I'm getting ready to buy a 2015, maybe, this 2010 was fully load with solar and roof,but it has not retained the value of the additional cost, so maybe. The 1999 I had 142,000 on, 2004 I had 152,000 this one is a 2010 with 70,800 I will say that I don't believe the solar roof was worth all the extra exp, I do like the sunroof all though it is small."
1 person out of 1 found this review helpful
By Howie on Friday, February 20, 2015
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 8,350overall rating 6 of 10rating details
Pros: "Status for a tree hugger"
Cons: "Expense, no real over all environmental benefit"
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 2
"In the NE, especially winter on short trips, gas milage is not half of what is advertised. The main reason I bought it.I was told after sale, 10,000 logged on miles is required , before the actual MPG can be achieved . It is terrible in snow, and unlike most other cars slip reduction can not be over ridden, which hinders its ability to power out if stuck in snow . The EV mode is a gimic, and like the kings new clothes, only impresses those who are mesmerized by its reputation! The radar cruise controls only slows the car, and does not stop it, as alluded to in its advertised safety abilities! Lane keeper is a joke, without anf truly functional abilities, more annoying that a safety feature! Over all I would not recommed the car! But it is a status symbol impressing those of us that think such gimmicky machinery makes a difference!"
3 people out of 8 found this review helpful