A cutaway of the mechanicals highlighted the engine, which for the first time has every accessory drive run electrically rather than via a power-sapping belt.Enlarge Photo
As part of the launch plan for the 2010 Toyota Prius, the company has been holding swanky, invitation-only events all over the country for press, dealers, and a handful of the most passionate Prius fans. Last night, it was New York City's turn, so of course we were at the Skylight exhibition space in trendy TriBeCa to join the crowd.
The hors d'oeuvres were elegant, the bar was open, and the space was more expansive than the Fisher Music Hall, where the Detroit event was held. Overall, the crowd approved of the car, though praise was more muted than the uber-fanboys in Detroit. Among Prius cognoscenti attending were Russell Frost, of the Prius Owners Group, and several members of PriusChat.
Not that the faithful didn't have their gripes. The most common seemed to be that Toyota wasn't offering the solar moonroof with the highest-spec package that included all the electronic safety and comfort options.
The company explained that adding those options together would kick the car into a different weight category, but at least one PriusChat member had already solved that: "Just put the smaller wheels from the European version back, and get rid of the 17-inchers." No word on whether Toyota is considering that option.
Though you might not think of it that way, New York City--especially the traffic-choked canyons of Manhattan--is ideal territory for hybrids like the Prius. And in fact the city runs hundreds of Priuses in its fleet, including some first-generation (2000-2003) cars, said Mark Simon, of the city's transportation department. He was looking covetously at the new model, and wondering about fleet pricing. That would be, of course, for the lowest-spec version--no options at all for civil servants.
Besides Detroit and New York, other Prius Connection events have been--or will be--held in several West Coast cities, and Washington, DC. The next one will be in Chicago next Tuesday.
Among other diversions was a Prius trivia quiz and this \Enlarge Photo
Each 2010 Prius on display had one of these spec sheets; the models ranged from the fairly basic to the top-of-the-line. No prices, though.Enlarge Photo
This says it all: Welcome to the third-generation, 2010 Toyota Prius!Enlarge Photo
Toyota has nicer product shots than this interior, but it clearly shows the \Enlarge Photo