Take, for example, the optional solar moonroof that helps keep drivers from losing their cool. While the car is parked, solar panels power a ventilation fan that reduces the temperature inside. As owners approach their car, they can tamp down the temp even more by flipping on the A/C with an available key fob.
It's the kind of option that should appeal to the technologically savvy as well as the simply sweaty. In other words, the broad customer base that Prius needs to remain the best-selling hybrid in the world.
Toyota Division Group Vice President and General Manager Bob Carter helped introduce the 2010 Toyota Prius at the North American International Auto Show in Detroit on Jan. 12.
"The features and performance of the new midsize 2010 Toyota Prius are superior to anything we have ever built," Carter said. "And along with building a better car, we will make it available in more places. We plan to sell this new 2010 Toyota Prius in 80 countries worldwide, nearly twice as many as today."
The new model arrives in U.S. showrooms this spring, equipped with a 1.8-liter, four-cylinder engine that pumps up performance. The 2010 Toyota Prius zips from zeo to 60 mph in 9.8 seconds in internal testing, compared to 10.9 seconds for its predecessor.
Fuel efficiency also improves, thanks to advances in design and technology. An aerodynamic stretched silhouette, along with underbody covers, minimizes air resistance, reducing the drag cofficient from .26 to .25. A new exhaust heat collection system uses engin collant to extract exhaust hear, improving engine warm-up time and increasing start-up fuel economy.
A redesigned gas tank not only simplifies the fueling system but also sheds weight. In fact, the entire hybrid system weighs less.
As a result, of the changes, the new 2010 Toyota Prius is expected to get an EPA-estimated combined rating of 50 miles per gallon, four more than the current generation.
Size also shifts. While exterior dimensions are comparable to the current model, the interior is more spacious, thanks to a smaller batter control module and other space savers. The cargo area cradles three golf bags instead of two.
Of course, the 2010 Toyota Prius' propensity for "green" goes well beyond a golf green. Plant-derived "Ecological Plastics" are used in seat cushion foam, trim and scuff plates. Then there's the new cool exhaust gas recirculation system that cycles some exhaust gas back into the engine, reducing certain emissions. It's another potent pairing of eco and techno that should help the 2010 Toyota Prius clean up in the expanding hybrid vehicle market.