Toyota revises Prius mpg rating to 51 city, 48 highway and 50 combined

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Toyota’s third-generation Prius has a combined-cycle fuel-economy of 50mpg (4.7L/100km)

Toyota’s third-generation Prius has a combined-cycle fuel-economy of 50mpg (4.7L/100km)

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After months of conjecture and Toyota’s own claims for the fuel-economy of its new Prius, came the release last week of “preliminary” Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) ratings for the new model. In their haste, the EPA and Toyota had made a slight error in those original numbers due to a misinterpretation of preliminary data.

According to the revised numbers, the 2010 Toyota Prius has an estimated fuel economy rating of 51mpg in the city, 48mpg on the highway and a combined figure of 50mpg (the previous figures were 50/49 for city/highway and 50mpg combined). This means that owners of the new 2010 model will still be able to boast that they drive the highest mileage mass produced hybrid in the world. By comparison, the first-generation Prius was EPA rated at 41mpg for the combined cycle and the current model is rated at 46mpg.

Not only is it more efficient, the new Prius is also quieter, roomier, and equipped with more features than the current model. Some of these include an available moonroof with solar panels, four driving modes, Intelligent Parking Assist (IPA) and steering wheel touch controls that display on the instrument panel.

Sharing a similar body to the current model, engineers have meticulously tested and modified every surface of the car’s exterior to come up with a drag-coefficient of just 0.25Cd – one of the lowest ratings for a production vehicle today. The overall height of the Prius is the same as the current model, but the roof profile is altered by moving the top of the roof 3.9in to the rear. This emphasizes the wedge shape, and also allows for enhanced rear headroom and improved aerodynamics. Dimensionally, the new Prius has the same wheelbase as the current generation. Overall length is slightly increased by 0.6in, in part by moving the front cowl forward.

Power comes from a larger and more powerful 1.8L Atkinson-cycle four-cylinder engine, combined with the latest iteration of Toyota’s Synergy Drive hybrid system. Contrary to conventional wisdom, the larger engine actually helps improve highway mileage. By making more torque, the new engine can run at lower average rpm on the highway. When operating at lower rpm, the new engine uses less fuel. Mileage is especially improved in cold-start conditions and at higher speeds.

The engine develops a peak output of 98hp and 105lb-ft of torque, while the electric motor is rated at 80hp and 153lb-ft of torque. This is enough to send the car from 0-60mph in 9.8 seconds.

Use of an electric water pump and a new exhaust gas recirculation (EGR) system also contribute to the engine’s efficiency. The 1.8L Prius engine is the first Toyota power plant that requires no belts under the hood for better fuel economy and less potential maintenance.

A multi-information display panel that monitors fuel and energy consumption is standard. It provides feedback on the Prius’ efficiency using three different displays to help the driver acquire economical driving habits.

The available driving modes include engine alone, battery alone, or a combination of both. While these modes will depend on the amount of power demanded, the driver can also control how efficiently they want to drive with a choice of three different selectable driving modes. EV-Drive Mode allows driving on battery power alone at low speeds for about a mile, if conditions permit. There is also a Power Mode, which increases sensitivity to throttle input for a sportier feel, and an Eco Mode, which helps the driver achieve their best mileage.

Pricing for the new Prius will be announced shortly before it goes on sale towards the middle of the year.
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Comments (6)
  1. While still a relatively boring econo-green-box, its a nice upgrade from the last generation.

    I rather like the upgraded look of this one, though I still wish they could make it a bit more "exciting".

    Is there any further info on the solar roof panel? Like what it would cost and what is it even used for? Whatever its used for, I love how well its integrated into the moonroof (or sunroof in this case :p)

  2. Vauxhall (Opel) built the Calibra in the late 1980s with a drag coefficient of 0.26. The only other cars that come that close to matching the new Prius are (drumroll, please) an Audi that also never made it to the US and another hybrid: the Honda Insight. To be fair, the latter was only a two-seater, but that actually makes getting good aerodynamics even harder.

  3. I just saw the new dealer update sheet today, some good, some bad.

    The Good:
    1.8 liter engine not only is 5 mpg more fuel efficient(increase of HWY EPA from 46 to 51), but shaves a full second off the 0-60 time. Drag coefficient is .04 better than a Corvette, so this model is sleek. 3" more legroom in rear makes for roomy comfort. LED's have replaced bulb lights for more energy efficiency. Remote now includes Auto A/C start, as well as Solar powered Moon roof W/Temp monitor that automatically opens vents when the vehicle's temperature becomes excessive. Cockpit has more of a sportier look with a console shifter. Driver has controls on steering wheel to project a HUD(Heads-Up-Display, similar to that found in a jet fighter) of the instrument information. Navigation system has been drastically updated, has many more features than "On-Star". Price is to increase by only $1,000 over the 2009 models. Approximately $30,000 fully loaded

    The Bad:
    not much.
    Driftwood Pearl, Silver Pine Mica, Barcelona Red, Magnetic Gray have been discontinued. Only FOUR colors available this year, light and dark blue, sand, and black will be offered.

  4. I am still bored by this thing, it is not a driver's car

  5. I'm not a fan of this car and probably never will be, BUT seeing all those improvements for only $1000 is pretty impressive. It definitely looks better than the old one too, it's the same basic shape but the smaller details make a nice difference.

  6. InkMaster asked about the solar roof. Photovoltaics mounted on cars is simply not an optimal use of solar power, and in the case of Toyota's optional solar roof on the 2010 Prius it is downright silly. The panel won't provide a single watt of mobility. See : Toyota's Underwhelming Solar Prius.

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