At last, the much awaited third generation Toyota Prius hybrid is here! The 2009 Detroit Auto Show has become the launching pad for the latest Prius which will be available in both the US and Japan by the end of spring this year after which it will spread to other markets. The latest Prius, which is quieter roomier and has more features, will also provide better mileage than the present version.
Some variants of the Prius comes with a moonroof with integrated solar panels, four driving levels, Intelligent Parking Assist (IPA) and touch control mounted on the steering wheel and display on the instrument panel. The present Prius has an EPA rating of 46mpg for the combined cycle in comparison the first generation it replaced which has only 41mpg. Fuel efficiency for the new Prius, however, was boosted to 50 mpg with the utilization of a combination of new technologies.
The external surface of the latest Prius has been modified to an extent that now the drag coefficient has been reduced to one of the lowest rating for a production car of 0.25Cd. Although the height of the Prius is the same as the present model, its roof profile has been modified by the moving of the roof 3.9 inches towards the back providing more headroom for rear-seat passengers and also enhanced aerodynamics.
Other similar elements include the wheelbase which is identical in dimensions with the current version although the overall length of the new Prius has been extended by a mere 0.6 inches caused by the movement of the front cowl towards the front. The Prius comes with a 1.8-liter Atkinson-cycle 4 cylinder engine in combination with Toyota's latest Synergy Drive hybrid system. In contrast to common knowledge, the larger engine in fact improves highway mileage by producing more torque enabling the engine to run at lower rpms.
Of course, when the engine operates at a lower rpm it utilizes lesser fuel. Furthermore, in cold-start conditions mileage is also improved at higher speeds.
Top power for the engine is 98hp and 105lb-ft or torque while top performance for the electric motor is 80 hp and 153lb-ft of torque sufficient to propel the vehicle from 0-60 mph in 9.8 seconds. Efficiency is further enhanced by the use of an electric water pump and the latest exhaust gas recirculation system.
The Prius engine is one-of-a-kind powerplant that has no need for a belt for improved fuel economy and lesser maintenance. The new Prius comes with a standard multi-information display panel that monitors power and fuel utilization and offers efficiency feedback using a variety of three displays to assist the driver acquire more efficient driving habits. Driving modes are available in three options: engine only, battery only, or both.