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 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."
5 people out of 6 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."
15 people out of 20 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
By peterjm on Wednesday, June 04, 2014
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 60,000overall rating 10 of 10rating details
Pros: "Economical on gas, fun to drive, quiet ride"
Cons: "Rear vision, high price"
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 10
"I have had my 2010 Prius 4 years and it runs and drives perfectly with virtually no repairs. The car is much bigger inside than you think as I often carry 3 other passengers in comfort for several hours at a time. The ride is good and the vehicle is amazingly quiet whether in electric or gas mode. The drive train switches modes seamlessly with no jerks or sounds so you do not notice. The mileage is fantastic, but can depend on the speed you drive. At 55MPH you will get 55mpg or greater. If you drive 75MPH you may only get 45mpg, but either way, it's all good. My only complaint is the rear vision is poor due to the air dam but you get used to it and learn to use your side mirrors more. The Prius is an extremely good car and I will surely buy another one some day...but not for a long while the way this one is going. Price is high, but it's worth it as Toyota has proven their Hybrid technology better than any other manufacturer. Both the Honda Insight and Hyundai Sonata have issues with the drive transition causing a less than smooth ride."
12 people out of 22 found this review helpful
By frn on Tuesday, May 13, 2014
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 16,000overall rating 8 of 10rating details
Pros: "utility, interior size/capacity, cheap to drive"
Cons: "not quiet on long trips"
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 10
"For a suburban home owner - you can't do any better. The utility, reliability, low cost of owning/running - hard to beat. A family of 4 or 5 fits - gets 50 mpg @ throw you in jail now speeds -- and it can haul a hot water heater back from the home store. When I bought the car - it was the ONLY hybrid out there that would take a full size wheel chair in the trunk - the one w/ the big wheels, not the transport wheel chairs which can fold into a bag. The only fine whine is that the road noise on poor pavement is obtrusive - rock hard tires and minimal sound insulation make it a poor choice for a 1K miles a day car. Doable - but your hearing will suffer and the aggravation of all is to be considered. I did not get the high trim version - the only reason to do so would be the back up camera and open on touch for both doors and the hatch. But at the added price - I can deal w/ not having them. The Prius has supplanted the Subaru and Volvo as the upscale (aka Yuppie) suburban vehicle in our area. The utility and low cost of driving is contagious. Buy one if you don't have long miles to drive in a single day."
12 people out of 14 found this review helpful
By Salty Captain on Tuesday, May 06, 2014
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 50,100overall rating 10 of 10rating details
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 3
"This is my 3rd Prius and it has proved to be dissapointing. Toyota's attention to detail has slipped. For example in bright sunlight even with polarized sunglasses you cannot see how fast you are going. It is more noisey. I had to replace the tires at 26,000 mi. When I asked the dealer about it they said that Toyota had changed to tires that gave a better ride but that the milage was lower. The rear doors make a tinny sound when closed rather than producing a that nice dull thud I'm used to. I have loved my previous Priuses and am very dissappointed in this one."
13 people out of 22 found this review helpful