Orlando, FL - I was driving the 2010 Toyota Prius with Aaron Robinson from Car and Driver. Robinson is a NASA/space geek. This could have been a really long ride and drive if it hadn't been for the fact that I'm married to a man that thinks a romantic night is watching the Kepler launch on the NASA station.
As we passed a sign for the Kennedy Space center we both lamented that we had never seen a shuttle launch, and that it was on our bucket list of things to do. Robinson even knew how much fuel it took to launch one of the first shuttles, some 584,000 gallons!
Today's shuttles don't take nearly as much fuel, and the technology is light years ahead of what used to be on them, sort of like the first-generation Prius.
The first-generation Prius was rated 41 EPA combined mpg, and when you stopped at a light the air conditioning stopped. Imagine, 113 degrees outside and when you stop at a stop sign your air conditioning quits. I don't think so!
In the 2010 Prius there are no belts, The power steering, water pumps and air conditioning compressor all run on electric motors.
But the car doesn't get really hot if you have the optional solar panel on the roof. The solar powered ventilation system prevents the interior air temperature from rising while the vehicle is parked. This means you use less air conditioning when you get back in the car to cool it down. Less air conditioning used means better miles per gallon.
The 2010 Toyota Prius has increased its weight and engine size, and its miles per gallon. The EPA estimated city/highway mpg rating of 51 in the city, 48 on the highway and a combined 50 mpg for the new Prius. All that on regular unleaded gasoline.
The 1.6-liter engine has been replaced with a 1.8-liter Atkinson-cycle, 4-cylinder aluminum block and head, double overhead cam (DOHC) 16-valve VVT-i that produces 98 horsepower at 5,200 rpm. Together with its electric motor the hybrid system in the new Prius will generate a combined net horsepower of 134, an increase of 24 horsepower over the previous generation. The torque is 153 lb.-ft.
I remember when I lived in Japan, the Japanese loved George Foreman. Someone in the world may not know this, but George named all his sons George: George I, George II, George III, George IV and George V.
Did Toyota think they were paying homage to George Foreman when they named their new Prius trim levels? The 2010 Toyota Prius will come in one model with four different trim levels: II, III, IV and V.
I looked carefully at all the specs for all the trim levels and I'm sorry to report that none include a George Foreman grill.
Prius I will debut later at a starting MSRP of $21,000, plus a destination charge of $750. Prius II starts at $22,000 plus a destination charge of $750, Prius III starts at $23,000 plus a destination charge of $750. Prius IV starts at $25,800 plus a destination charge of $750. Prius V starts at $27,270 plus a destination charge of $750.
I make a big deal of the $750 destination charge because it is not an option and should be included in the MSRP. I don't like hidden costs. Some manufacturers do include it in their MSRP. I understand that sales tax is not included, that can be different depending on the state, but the destination charge is the same and should be included.
A Navigation Package, available for $1,800, on Prius models III, IV, and V, includes a voice-activated touch-screen DVD navigation system with a JBL AM/FM/four-CD changer with integrated XM satellite radio, MP3/WMA playback capability, hands-free phone capability via Bluetooth® wireless technology, eight speakers and a backup camera.
A Solar Roof Package, available for $3,600, in Prius models III and IV, includes all contents in the Navigation Package, a power tilt/slide moonroof with a solar powered ventilation system and a remote air conditioning system.
An Advanced Technology Package, available for $4,500, in Prius model V, includes all contents in the Navigation Package; a Pre-Collision System; Dynamic Radar Cruise Control; Lane Keep Assist (LKA); and IPA.
A fully loaded Prius is a Prius V + the Advanced Technology Package. The MSRP is $27,270 (Prius V) + $4,500 (Adv Tech Pack) + $750 (DPH) = $32,520. The Prius V does not include the solar roof package, only the advanced technology package and the navigation package.
The new Prius will be certified as a Super Ultra Low Emission Vehicle (SULEV) and an Advanced Technology Partial Zero Emissions Vehicle (AT-PZEV) in California, as well as those states adopting California emission standards.
The 2010 Toyota Prius still has a 650 volts maximum Nickel Metal Hydride battery, but I asked Ed La Rocque, National Small Car Marketing Manager for Toyota Motor Sales, U.S.A. what Toyota was going to do in the future Prius's for batteries.
According to La Rocque Toyota has already thought about this issue. Toyota will have lithium-ion batteries in their plug-ins later in 2009.
More importantly, La Rocque says that the 2010 Prius is outfitted for a lithium-ion battery. This means that when Toyota does bring out their lithium-ion battery that they will be able to install it in the 2010 Prius. This is huge for Toyota.
La Rocque says the previous generation Prius' that can't take lithium-ion batteries will still be able to purchase Nickel Metal Hydride (NiMH) batteries. Absolutely, La Rocque says.
The Prius doesn't feel like it is waddling when you drive it anymore. Toyota has done a great job of preserving the Prius' Ionic heritage and moving it into mainstream drivability.
I got a speeding ticket, going up hill, in the first-generation Prius. People laughed their heads off when they heard this.
They're not laughing anymore.
Well, maybe George Foreman, I, II, II, IV and V are.