Toyota updates the Prius for the 2012 model year

Article by Christian A., on September 15, 2011

Toyota has unveiled the refreshed Prius at the 2011 Frankfurt Motor Show. The design of its exterior and interior was improved and it comes with a new lineup of advanced and inexpensive multimedia systems. Prius, the first full hybrid vehicle for the masses, was launched in 1997 in Japan. It arrived in 2000 in Europe.

The rivals of the Prius have only started to present their first hybrid variant to their current model lineups but the stand-alone Prius is already on its third generation. Toyota has sold more than 2.3 million Priuses worldwide while still maintaining its superior reputation for offering reliable, durable, and affordable cars. In the past decade, the fuel consumption of its Hybrid Synergy Drive powertrain has dropped by over 23% and its CO2 emissions level has been cut by nearly 26%. But even then, its system power has been boosted by 30%.

The new Prius has a fuel economy rating of 72.4mpg in the combined cycle, and has CO2 emissions of 89 g/km. In the last 10 years, how customers perceive full hybrid technology has changed significantly. What convinced the first-generation Prius owners was the car’s unique concept and technological innovation.

The second-generation owners wanted to adopt niche technologies and had stayed passionate about the Prius product concept. Meanwhile, the third-generation customers see the Prius as a true mainstream vehicle with on-road performance and dynamic abilities that are comparable to conventional D-segment rivals. The new Prius has been given a new, more dynamic front.

Its front bumper was redesigned to play up the bigger lower grille, following the new face of the next generation Toyota family. It has a new, clear lens headlamp design that has a revised LED lamp configuration. Its daytime running lights were integrated in the bumper. The door mirrors have a power-folding function. Its rear combination lamps were redesigned and the Prius also has a new 15-inch wheel design.

Inside, its look and feel had been improved by changing the color scheme from dark grey to black and by adding silver inserts and an upholstery upgrade. Toyota revised the centre console and the push start button color was changed to hybrid blue.

The multi-information display was enhanced with a 16-gradation-step Vacuum Fluorescent Display (VFD) that offers a clearer and more three-dimensional display. In addition, its driving support functions now have an EV indicator lamp.

Toyota's Prius Plug-in Hybrid shares the characteristic, sweeping triangular silhouette of the 3rd generation Prius, but it is 20 millimeters longer so as to accommodate its new frontal design. The Toyota Prius Plug-in Hybrid is immediately distinguishable as the flagship model in the brand's remarkable full hybrid family.

Prius Plug-in Hybrid weighs 1,425 kg, making it just 55 kg heavier compared to a standard Prius. Its new Lithium-ion battery's weight was limited to only 80 kg – which is just half of the weight of the 2010 prototype's battery pack, and just 38 kg more than the nickel metal-hydride battery of the regular Prius – despite the car's extended EV driving mode range.

In order for the Prius Plug-in Hybrid to completely benefit from its high-tensile and light-weight steel and aluminium construction as well as from its Hybrid Synergy Drive powertrain, the distinctive exterior design concentrates on maximizing aerodynamic efficiency in order to improve fuel economy, quietness, and handling stability. As a result, you have an aerodynamic vehicle that boasts a drag coefficient of only Cd 0.25.

What's more, the hybrid car's front features the latest interpretation of the brand's trapezoidal Under Priority design. Also, the upper grille opening is kept small in order to maintain smooth airflow over the car's upper body, while its lower grille was enlarged and incorporates a silver accent color and chrome-plated molding to its upper trim panel.

The car's upper headlamp extension area boasts a blue-colored smoke paint finish so as to further differentiate it from the rest of Toyota's Prius family.

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