The 2010 Toyota Prius
The Prius has a true smart key that opens the drivers door by proximity and it has the now-ubiquitous start/stop button for ignition. Toyotas ingenuous gearshift lever carries over from the previous Prius, projecting from the dash and requiring the press of a park button to disengage. Gearing available is reverse, drive, neutral and brake, the latter for engine braking, untested by this driver.
With a starting point of $23,750 including destination fees the Prius III has three options as tested. There are carpeted floor mats and a cargo mat for $200, as well as a security system for $359. The $3600 solar roof package features Toyota's one-touch tilt/slide moonroof with solar powered ventilation and remote air condition systems that kept this car cool even in the heat of Las Vegas afternoon.
There is voice-activated touch-screen DVD navigation system with a four-disc CD changer from JBL, eight speakers, integrated XM satellite radio, XM NavTraffic, hands-free phone capability and music streaming through Bluetooth wireless technology. This package also includes the integrated backup camera with annoyingly loud beeper that can be defeated via a visit to ones local dealer. Total list price is $27,909 and there are two added up-rated Prius models to consider beyond this one!
As an attentive driver, I like the steering wheel controls for trip computer (including gas-hybrid usage) and audio/phone, with cruise control on a separate stalk. I also like the porthole windows front and rear on the new Prius. While there is a remote pull for the fuel filler, there is none for the hatch, which opens when all four doors have been unlocked.
Getting back to aesthetics, the third edition Prius is just different enough from its predecessor to be noticeable, with a more pronounced vertical stop to the body. The rear light treatment is more angular as is the front. The wheelbase visibly extends so that overhang is less pronounced and the entire exterior has a more integrated look and feel to it.
Inside, the plethora of molded plastics is well done, albeit not exactly luxurious. The centrally mounted information center extends forward to the blue-hued shifter and single cup holder at the base of that central stack. I especially like the way Toyotas design allowed an expansive open storage area below the central waterfall. While the interior is very purposeful, extending to its bi-level storage areas at the passenger side and its useful knick-knacks, its really not an endearing area.
Toyotas gone through some hard knocks lately for its unintended acceleration problems, an issue that Audi went through back in the late 1970s and 1980s. There may be some issues that doesnt mean that Toyota products are necessarily bad for the consumer. Rather, these matters indicate a growing inability of many drivers to adequately operate their vehicles, not knowing how to stop them in an emergency. (With the start/stop button, an extended press will halt the car)
The new Toyota Prius is a fine machine and worthy of a look particularly if one has a long daily commute. Throughout its long history of sales and service in the United States, Toyota has made some particularly good cars. This is one of them.