EV-Motoring

2010 Toyota Prius Review

2010 Toyota Prius

In the U.S. alone, Toyota has sold more than 670,000 Prius hybrid models. The car has become an icon of the environmental movement. We’ve just driven the all-new, third-generation Prius, and we believe that it will continue to be popular with the eco-conscious.

Evolutionary describes the new Prius’s new shape. The all-new design rides on the same wheelbase as the second-generation model (106.3 inches). While the roof is the same height, the peak roof height has been shifted back almost four inches. The move gives the Prius a more wedge-like shape for improved interior room and reduced aerodynamic drag. According to Toyota, the Prius achieves an aerodynamic drag coefficient (Cd) of just 0.25, which is among the best in the world for production cars.

Even thought the 2010 Prius is slightly larger and carries more features than the outgoing car, its combined mpg rating has increased to 50 mpg, up from 46 mpg for the 2009 model. Toyota achieves this mileage using a 98-horsepower 1.8-liter four-cylinder engine running on the ultra-efficient Atkinson cycle. The engine’s extra size enables it to make more torque (105 lb-ft), and although it runs counter to conventional thinking, the additional torque enables the engine to get better highway fuel economy (because the engine can run at lower engine speeds).

The motor portion of the Prius hybrid system produces a peak 80 horsepower, and when combined with the engine, results in a maximum powertrain output of 134 horsepower. Acceleration should be more than ample.

Additionally eco-enhancements include seemingly dull engineering advancements such as an electrically-driven water pump. Water pumps are normally driven by the engine’s crankshaft, and continuously sapped power even when water flow wasn’t necessary. The beauty of the new system is its improved efficiency that stretches more miles from every gallon. Toyota also cut the weight of many components including the transmission.

Further reducing the vehicle’s power consumption, available LED (light emitting diode) lamps are used for low beams and also in the tail and stop lamps.

Like the outgoing Prius, the 2010 model is fully equipped with all manner of modern road-going conveniences. But Toyota did not just Xerox the old car’s feature list for the new model. The company added clever features such as an available sliding glass moonroof that is packaged with solar panels used to power a new ventilation system. This solar ventilation system uses an electrically powered air circulation fan that does not require engine assist. In addition, an exhaust heat recirculation system reduces heat waste by warming engine coolant during cold startup, for improved performance. It also heats up the passenger cabin more efficiently.

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