The third installment of Toyota’s landmark Prius series broke cover recently at the Detroit Auto Show. The new Prius uses the newest version of Toyota’s Synergy-Drive system. More than 90% of the system is new or redesigned with a reduction in weight being the main focus. Toyota claims its efforts have resulted in a system that is 20% lighter and gives an average combined consumption figure of about 50mpg.
The engine grows from a 1.5-liter to a 1.8-liter four cylinder which now runs, curiously enough, on the Atkinson-cycle. A boost of 22-hp and 23 ft-lbs of torque is a welcome addition to the frumpy Prius. The extra oomph shaves a second off its 0-60 mph time, which now comes it at 9.8 seconds. So now the Prius is just slow, instead of really, really slow.
A slippery new shape that lowers drag still keeps that Prius DNA in the design language. Do you think Toyota would mess with a good thing? It is still clearly recognizable as the beloved symbol of the hybrid movement. On the inside, the interior plastics are made from plant-derived, carbon-neutral materials in keeping with the green theme of this vehicle.
All in all, Toyota has made a few changes that make the Prius a better car all around. Base price has yet to be set. Still, Toyota confirms that it won’t be too far off from the previous model’s $22,720 base price. The company wants to keep the Prius an option for everyone. Toyota would like to pitch affordable hybrids as the future, with the new Toyota Prius at the front. This new model should prove to be quite convincing.
Photo: Toyota Motor Co.