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CAR OF THE MONTH January 2010

2010 Toyota Prius Review

Sustained Evolution

A three-quarter front view of a winter gray metallic 2010 Toyota Prius

In short: An improved and amenity-laden hybrid hatchback.

ow in its third-generation incarnation, the all-new 2010 Toyota Prius hybrid features a quieter, roomier and sleeker design while retaining its distinctive contours and fuel-efficient credentials. Yet with upstarts like the Ford Fusion Hybrid and Honda Insight, Toyota is not resting on its laurels—indeed, the Japan-based automaker reports that it filed for a thousand patents because of its efforts to improve the Prius. This solidly built and environmentally friendly five-door hatchback comes with a larger and more powerful 1.8-liter engine (replacing the 1.5-liter), ironically managing to improve the car’s fuel economy up to 51 mpg during city driving conditions, although we didn't get near that. Dedicated hypermilers can expect to exceed that rating. Regenerative braking, an 80-horsepower electric motor and a 650-volt NiMH battery pack guarantee the car’s gas-miserly manners, and four operating modes allow motorists the choice between fuel economy and performance.

Ultra-modern to the core, this mid-size five-seater’s standard features include powered and heatable side mirrors; a driver-door Smart Key entry system with push button start; a rear spoiler; high solar energy absorbing glass; steering wheel-mounted audio and climate controls accessible via a Touch Tracer digital display; and a decent six-speaker single-CD audio system. Depending on the trim—the 2010 Prius is offered in five levels—other features include a voice-activated touch-screen DVD navigation system; backup camera; and four-CD-changing, eight-speaker audio system with XM satellite radio, MP3/WMA playback capability, and hands-free phone capability via Bluetooth. Our tester came with the powered tilt-and-slide moonroof with a remote controlled air conditioning system; seventeen-inch wheels (over the stock fifteen-inch); leather-trimmed interior; heated front seats; pre-collision system; dynamic radar cruise control; lane-keeping assist and intelligent park assist are also available.

A three-quarter rear view of a winter gray metallic 2010 Toyota Prius

You may not want to take the Prius on a road trip, (although you could adjust its engine configuration with energy generation) while braking is better suited for city activities, short commute and weekend errands. Nevertheless we appreciate this sustained evolution and so will you, as this automobile seems to retain a high resale value.

Read a review of the 2008 Toyota Prius and the 2005 Toyota Prius

: 3-year/36,000-mile comprehensive warranty; 5-year/60,000-mile powertrain warranty; 5-year/unlimited-mile corrosion perforation warranty; 8-year/100,000-mile hybrid-related component coverage (15-year/150,000-mile hybrid-related component coverage in select states, with the exception of the hybrid battery, which is warranted for 10 years/150,000 miles).

Base Price: $23,000 / As tested: $27,909

Technical Specifications

Vehicle type: front engine, front-wheel drive, 5-passenger, 5-door hatchback

Engine: 1.8-liter, 16-valve DOHC Atkinson-cycle 4-cylinder with variable valve timing; permanent magnet synchronous electric motor
Horsepower: 98 hp @ 5,200 rpm; 80 hp (electric motor); 134 hp (hybrid system net horsepower)
Torque: 105 lb-ft @ 4,000 rpm; 153 lb-ft (electric motor)
Transmission: electronically controlled continuously variable

Curb weight:
3,042 lbs
Wheelbase: 106.3 in
Length/Width/Height: 175.6/68.7/58.7 in
Turning circle: 17.1 ft

all-wheel power-assisted disc with ABS, brake assist and electronic brakeforce distribution; integrated regenerative braking system in front

Suspension: independent MacPherson strut with stabilizer bar in front; torsion beam in rear
vehicle stability control; traction control; hill-start assist control

0-60 mph: 9.8 seconds
Top Speed: 112 mph

EPA City:
51 mpg
EPA Highway: 48 mpg

Safety: advanced frontal airbags and seat-mo
unted side airbags in front; driver’s knee airbag; seat side curtain airbags for front and rear; side-impact door beams; energy absorbing crumple zones in front and rear

Likes: politically correct, futuristic design, quiet, sporty
Dislikes: heavy to move, rear visibility, lots of plastic


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Photography: AlphaMedia

PSV042909 (Updated 12/28/12 JLD)