Now in the third generation, the Toyota Prius has been referred to as a modern car that revolutionized the way the automotive industry thinks about fuel solution alternatives. Today, the Prius, and, Prii family has grown, and now offers four different models to satisfy the needs of just about any buyer interested in an alternative fuel lifestyle. However, this week the test car was fully loaded in the traditional Prius trim, and offered miles of impressive fuel economy, surprising luxury accommodations, and amenities to please.
The first thing to realize when driving the Toyota Prius is that it is not intended to be a performance oriented. The car has been specifically designed to optimize fuel economy whenever possible. When launching the Prius from a complete stop, and when the Eco, or EV mode is activated, the car will be powered primarily with electric power up to about 25 mph. Soon after the speed is achieved, the engine is activated to allow an additional source of power to be generated to keep the speed and performance up.
A nifty “energy” diagram highlights the platform of the vehicle and which source of power is being utilized. The diagram is available through the information screen, located under the fuel consumption tab. The manufacturer claims a 50 mpg city and highway combined fuel economy estimate, and during mixed city and highway driving, the test Prius was able to achieve a consistent 41 mpg. If needed, there is an available “power mode” that allows the Prius to behave in a more aggressive manner, especially during a launch from a stop.
The interior of the Prius is quite spacious, and offers a slight luxurious hint from the corporation’s luxury alternative brand, Lexus. The dashboard does take some getting used to as the complete instrument cluster is placed in the center, and top of the dashboard. All the gauges are digital, and offer an easy to read layout, once the desired gauge has been located. The leather that adorns the interior is made from an Eco friendly material, as are the door inserts. The shift knob also takes some getting used to at first, but is easy to learn, just don’t forget to activate the “Park button” before exiting the car.
The rear window was a slight challenge to look out from, especially during the recent storms that covered South Florida this past week. There are actually two different panes of glass see out from the rear with one that has a steep angle, while the other is positioned at a 90 degree angle, but there is a dividing piece that blocks the view, and created a number of blind spots during the week long test drive.
The test car was completed loaded with every feature available and was priced at $33,495. Toyota has created a legend, and remains in that position, with this model ever since it’s introduction. Overall, the Toyota Prius offers a complete package of innovation, technology, and versatility that has changed the industry, and continues to set a benchmark for hybrids of the future.