Toyota Prius is less harmful for the environment than a sheep, really!

Article by Christian Andrei, on January 5, 2011

Although this will definitely make you laugh, but it appears that Toyota says that its Prius emits less gas than a sheep. In fact, it is known that the gas produced by animals or humans can be worse for the environment than the one produced by a car. For those who don’t know, the 2011 Toyota Prius is powered by a 1.8-liter Atkinson-cycle, four-cylinder engine delivering 98 hp @ 5,200 rpm.

Together with its electric motor, the car delivers a total output of 134 hp With its 50-mpg fuel economy rating, Prius is the most fuel-efficient passenger car available in the U.S. today. Toyota Prius was rated by EPA at 51 mpg in city driving and 48 mpg on highway.

The design of the Toyota Prius has come to represent what a hybrid vehicle looks like. Thus, for the latest generation of this best-selling hybrid model, the carmaker Japanese aimed to sustain that recognition while making aerodynamics play a bigger role in achieving better fuel efficiency.

The third-generation Prius has the same wheelbase length as the previous generation (106.3 inches). Overall, the new Prius is longer by half an inch over its predecessor, thereby allowing it to maintain its efficient packaging.

While the new Prius has the same overall height as its predecessor, its roof peak has been moved to the rear by four inches to improve headroom in the rear compartment. Moreover, the third-generation Prius now features sharper and sportier corners as well as strong side character lines that rise from front to rear.

Moreover, the new Prius features wider rear treads, thereby providing a more solid stance. Since the focus on the third-generation Prius is aerodynamics efficiency, the car underwent more hours of wind tunnel testing than any other Toyota vehicles in history.

This gave the new Prius one of the cleanest aerodynamic profiles of any volume vehicle. Designers focused on the shape of the Prius’ body and underfloor as well as its wheelhouse liner and wheel face design, allowing them to reduce the coefficient of drag (Cd) value to 0.25 – better than 0.26 Cd of its predecessor. Although Toyota focused more on improving the vehicle’s aerodynamic performance, it made sure that people could immediately recognize the new car as a Prius.

Underpinning the third-generation Toyota Prius is a new platform that allows for enhanced handling control and tranquil operation. It features a suspension with front struts and a rear beam design – just like its predecessor – but by enhancing the stabilizer layout and geometry and by re-tuning the bushing characteristics, Toyota was able to sharpen its handling response and smoothen its ride. Providing the stopping power, as standard, are four-wheel disc brakes.

Toyota was able to make the new Prius lighter by using aluminum for the hood, rear hatch, front stabilizer bar and brake calipers as well as by employing super high-tensile strength steel in the inner rocker panel, roof reinforcement and center pillar. The third-generation Prius is loaded with a number of advanced equipment, like an available sliding glass moonroof packaged with solar panels placed over the rear seating area.

This provides power to a new ventilation system that helps lower the air temperature inside the Prius when it is parked directly on the sun. This significantly shortens the time it takes to cool down the Prius when the driver comes back, lessening the need to use air conditioning.

Interestingly, the new 2011 Prius could be specified with a remote air conditioning system that allows a driver to cool the interior temperature even before he or she could get into the car. Likewise, this is the first air conditioning system in the world that could work on battery-power alone.

Since air conditioning has been a major energy drain, Toyota reengineered this system to become more efficient and improve its cool-down capability. Also, the Prius is fitted with an exhaust heat recirculation system that help reduces heat waste by warming engine coolant during cold startup while heating up the passenger cabin in a more efficient manner.

Moreover, the latest generation of the Prius is equipped with LEDs (light emitting diodes) -- standard in tail and stop lamps and optional in low beam headlamps – that consume less power than conventional lights. One of the more exciting features about the new Prius is its bigger and more functional interior.

For instance, its rear seat legroom has been maximized thanks to a contoured front-seat design that saves more space. Toyota also implemented a new layout for the battery cooling unit to expand the cargo area of the new Prius.

The carmaker was also able to reduce the amount of road noise going into the cabin by employing enhanced sound insulation with improved vibration damping. On the other hand, the Prius features a center cluster flowing smoothly from the instrument panel to the console.

Since the Prius employs a shift-by-wire system, Toyota was able to add a storage space just under the shift lever. Moreover, Toyota used silver accents as well as fin-type air vents for a more technical feel.

Customers may avail of the Touch Tracer Display that comes with touch sensors on the steering wheel switches, thereby allowing drivers to better focus on the road ahead.

When the driver touches the audio or trip switch placed on the steering wheel, a duplicate image will be shown on the instrument panel just in front of the driver. Remarkably, Touch Tracer is the world’s first display system that enables the steering wheel controls to show up in the instrument panel.

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