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2010 Toyota Prius Hybrid Review & Test Drive

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Filed under Automotive, Featured, Hybrid, Test Drives, Toyota



First introduced in 1997 as the world’s first mass-produced hybrid automobile, the all-new, third-generation Prius hybrid sedan sets new standards for innovative hybrid design and technology, raising its level of convenience features and performance to new heights, including a combined EPA estimated fuel efficiency rating of 50 miles per gallon.

The third-generation midsize 2010 Prius offers better mileage ratings, enhanced performance, and innovative design features.  The patented Hybrid Synergy Drive system in the 2010 Prius is 90% newly developed, with significant improvements over previous models.  The new Prius is quieter and roomier than before as well.  It comes equipped with advanced standard and available features such as a moonroof with solar panels, four driving modes, bigger tires/wheels, rearview TV camera, Lane Keep Assist, Intelligent Parking Assist (IPA) and steering wheel touch buttons that display on the instrument cluster.

Credited with establishing hybrid technology as a foundation for future vehicles, the three generations of the Prius model have delivered superior fuel mileage and ultra-low emissions for more than 1.3 million owners worldwide.

There are five trim levels offered starting with Prius 1 all the up to Prius V.  I tested a nicely loaded Prius IV.

The heart of the new Prius is, of course, its Hybrid Synergy Drive system, first introduced in 2004 on the second-generation Prius.  The system is 90% new and was developed by Toyota engineers increasing both power and fuel mileage.  The larger, 1.8 liter, all-aluminum, DOHC 4-cylinder engine features VVT-i to flatten the torque band and further increase fuel economy.  It generates 98hp at 5,200rpm and 105lbs.ft. of torque at 4,000rpm.  Together with the electric motor, power is increased to 134 net horsepower.


Acceleration is quicker with 60mph from standstill coming in only 9.8sec.  New features include a redesigned electric fuel pump and a new gas recirculation system that improves fuel efficiency.

The new 1.8 liter engine is Toyota’s first engine not to need an accessory belt reducing maintenance costs and increasing efficiency.  The Prius is a ‘full-hybrid’ allowing you  to drive on the engine alone, the battery alone, or a combination.  There are four driving modes-Normal, EV (battery alone for up to 1 mile), Power mode increasing sensitivity to throttle input for quicker acceleration and a more sporty feel), you can really feel the difference, and an Eco mode that helps to achieve the best of both and works best in heavy traffic or at high speeds on the freeway.

However you want the Prius to drive, you have a choice, and you will save money on fuel costs, any which way.

The engine is hooked up to a front-wheel-drive, electronically controlled, continuously variable transmission that is quiet and smooth.  There are no pauses between shift changes for smooth acceleration.


The new stylish looks preserve the dynamic triangle form of the current model but made alterations to the overall profile such as changing the pillar position and angle, keeping the overall height but moving the peak 3.9in. to the rear maintaining the wedge shape and increasing rear headroom and improving aerodynamics.  The front and rear corners are sharper giving it a more sporty look and enhancing aerodynamics.  A strong character line rises from the front to the rear that defines the smooth aero shape.  In the rear you’ll notice a wider track giving the new Prius a solid, firmly rooted stance.  The 1.06in. wheelbase remains the same.  The overall length is increased by 0.06in. by moving the front cowl forward.  Many hours were spent in the wind tunnel focusing on the shape of the body, underfloor, wheelhouse liner, and wheel face design.  With a coefficient of drag of only 0.25, the new Prius is one of the most aerodynamic in the industry.    There is a lip spoiler on the edge to the rear hatch to enhance downforce and increase stability.

The Prius has its own unique design and doesn’t look like any other Toyota, or any other vehicle on the market.

Driving the all-new 2010 Prius was more fun and enjoyable that I expected.  With the new Power mode you can accelerate with the rest of the gasoline only powered vehicles that are usually more powerful.  I was totally impressed with how fast initial acceleration was.  Top speed is now governed at 112mph, 9mph more than last year.


That fact is the result of the more powerful engine and the use of lightweight aluminum for the hood, rear hatch, front stabilizer bar and brake calipers, and by using super high-tensile strength steel in the inner rocker panel, center pillar and roof reinforcement.  The new Prius weighs in at just 3,042lbs.

Underpinning the chassis is a third-generation platform that enables improved control and quieter operation.  The suspension employs front MacPherson struts and in the rear an intermediate torsion beam design and a stabilizer bar as before, but smoother handling is increased by improving the stabilizer bar layout, utilizing a higher caster angle and tuning the bushing characteristics.  The ride is always smooth over well paved road surfaces and the electric power-assisted rack & pinion steering system works very well with a very feel for the road, and fast reaction to your inputs.  Enhanced Vehicle Stability Control and Traction Control work in conjunction work together to help you stay on your chosen path.  The cabin is much quieter using higher-performing sound insulation, working with improved vibration damping, that have been installed in various locations to reduce road noise.

Quickly and safety slowing the Prius down from speed are new, standard hydraulic with power assistance and an integrated regenerative brake system to charge the batter when applied.  Up front are 10in. vented rotors, and replacing last year’s rear drums are 10.2in. solid discs.  Enhancing braking power and controls are ABS, Electronic Brake Force Distribution and Brake Assist.


The new Prius rides on standard 5-spoke, 15X6in. wheels, wrapped with 195/55R15in. tires, or you can option, for the first time, a set of 5-spoke,17X7in. aluminum alloy wheels, wrapped with 215/45R17in. all-season radial tires.

The overall handling and performance is much improved from last year with the Power mode enabling you to easily slip through slow city traffic and the Eco mode is just right for heavy traffic at rush hour.  Gas prices are rising again and you’ll smile as you pass gas stations with an EPA mileage rating of 51mpg/city and 48/mpg highway.

You’ll also smile when you open the front door and check out the new interior design. Sit back in the more comfortable and supportive front bucket seat and you can see that the center cluster smoothly flows from the instrument panel to the console and is slightly canted to you.  All controls are within easy reach and fully illuminated.  Handy storage space has been added under the shift lever by taking advantage of the shift-by-wire system.  The padded center console also slides and contains a large bin for storage as well as dual cupholders.  You’ll also find extra storage in the dual-level glovebox and door pockets.  Simple, fin-type air vents are consistent with the cabin’s efficient appearance.  Lots of silver accents add a finished, technical look and feel.  A new Touch Tracer Display features touch sensors on the sporty, tilt/telescoping, leather wrapped steering wheel switches that are designed to reduce driver eye movement for better concentration on the road.  When you touch the audio or info switch located on the steering wheel, a duplicate image is displayed on the instrument panel, directly in front of you.  Touch Tracer is the first display system in the world to allow steering wheel controls to display in the instrument panel.  The Eco indicator on the Multi-Informational Display provides driver feedback to encourage more economical driving.  For a more sporty feel and look the stick shifter was moved from the dashboard onto the center console.


In pursuit of new technologies for sustainable mobility, Toyota uses plant-derived, carbon-neutral plastics in the 2010 Prius.  Known as ‘ecological plastic’, the new material is used in the seat cushion foam, cowl side trim, inner and outer scuff plates, and deck trim cover.  Ecological plastic emits less CO2 during the production process than conventional plastic; it also helps reduce petroleum use.  The rear, 60/40 split, folding bench seatback has a pull-down armrest and dual cupholders.

The cargo area was made 0.4in. longer and 2.2in. wider by using a new an improved layout for the battery cooling unit.  Rear seat legroom is enhanced by a new space-saving contoured front seat design.

An optional sliding glass sunroof is packaged with solar panels that are located over the rear seating area that power the new ventilation system.  This solar powered ventilation system helps keep the interior air temperature near the outside ambient temperature, when parked directly in the sun.  Cool-down time is shorter when you return to the vehicle, thus reducing the use of air conditioning.  The new Prius also offers a remote air conditioning system.  It is the first system in the world to function on battery-power alone, and allows remote operation so you can cool the interior temperature for comfort before getting into the car.


LEDs, optional in low beam headlamps, and standard in tail and stop lamps, help reduce the vehicle’s power consumption.  Air conditioning, a major energy drain, has been re-engineered to increase efficiency and cool-down performance.  Additionally, 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.

Standard equipment inside the all-new Prius not mentioned above include a JBL AM/FM/MP3/6-disc CD with 8-speakers and satellite radio, Bluetooth, auxiliary audio jack, smart key to automatically unlock the doors when approaching, push button engine start/stop, grab handles above each door, 6-way manual adjustable driver’s seat with power lumbar adjustments, cruise-control, auto climate control system with Plasmacluster air filtration, power door locks, power windows with all express up/down, heated front seats, heated/power-remote sideview mirrors, auto-dimming reaview mirror, dual map lights, dual vanity mirrors with lights, thick cut-pile carpeting and floor mats.

Options not mentioned above include Toyota’s DVD navigation system with touch screen, XM NavTraffic/USB port with iPod connectivity, dynamic radar cruise control, lane keep assist, intelligent parking assist, pre-collision system and parking assist.


Standard safety systems aboard include driver/front passenger 3-point safety belts with load limiters/pretensioners, 3-3-point seats belts in the rear, driver/front passenger front airbags/side airbags, front/rear side curtain airbags, driver’s knee airbag, steel beams in each door, front and rear crumple zones, active headrest up front, child protector rear door locks, adjustable front seatbelt shoulder anchors, engine immobilizer, and the LATCH system for child seats.

The all-new 2010 Prius is still the best of all of the hybrid vehicles it competes against.  This purpose-built hybrid sedan comfortably seats five persons, is fun to drive and contains all of the latest in comfort, ergonomics, automotive high tech and advanced safety systems in a package that no other manufacturer can match.

If you are looking to save money on gasoline purchases as prices continue to rise,

and want to help making a small footprint on the environment, then you have to test drive the all-new 2010 Toyota Prius.



Price: MSRP $26,200 As-Tested $29,959.00 IV Model

Type: Compact Sedan
Where Built: Japan
EPA Class: Midsize Cars


Length: 175.6 in.
Width: 68.7 in.
Height: 58.7 in.
Wheel Base: 106.3 in.
Ground Clearance: 5.5 in.
Curb Weight: 3042 lbs.
Front Head Room: 38.6 in.
Front Hip Room: 52.7 in.
Front Shoulder Room: 54.9 in.
Rear Head Room: 37.6 in.
Rear Shoulder Room: 53.1 in.
Rear Hip Room: 51.2 in.
Front Leg Room: 42.5 in.
Rear Leg Room: 36 in.
Luggage Capacity: 21.6 cu. ft.
Maximum Cargo Capacity: 40 cu. ft.
Maximum Seating: 5

Performance Data

Base Number of Cylinders: 4
Base Engine Size: 1.8 liters
Base Engine Type: Inline 4
Horsepower: 134 hp
Max Horsepower: 5200 rpm
Torque: 105 ft-lbs.
Max Torque: 4000 rpm
Drive Type: FWD
Turning Circle: 34.2 ft.
0-60mph: 9.8 seconds

Fuel Data

Fuel Tank Capacity: 11.9 gal.
EPA Mileage Estimates: (City/Highway/Combined)
Automatic: 51 mpg / 48 mpg / 50 mpg
Range in Miles:
Automatic: 606.9 mi. / 571.2 mi. / 595 mi.


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