Knowing I’d have to drive to San Diego from the home office in Long Beach and then on to Sonoma, a car that gets great mileage was extremely important. So I chose a 2010 Toyota Prius V, the top of the Prius ladder.
The first day is always a get-to-know-you thing, where the controls become intuitive and the driving position comfortable. There is always the issue of posing for photos and, in the process finding out what’s interesting about both exterior and interior of the vehicle.
In the case of the Prius, a five-door hatch with complete wind-cheating capabilities that help this gas-electric hybrid earn fuel ratings of 51/48, there’s a lot of real estate in a relatively small package.
There are four Prius models, named in Roman numerals, from II to V. The Prius V has just about every bell & whistle Toyota can conjure for its entry-level hybrid, which wears it well. The only item this car missed was a sunroof, which is available on the IV. Toyota’s peeps said something about a weight disadvantage, which I’m sure the sunroof would add, as it always does.
The Prius has an aluminum 1.8-liter double overhead cam (DOHC) four-cylinder engine, making 98 horsepower at 5200 rpm as its primary form of motive energy. Torque on this mill is a relatively high 105 lb-ft at 4000 rpm. Working in concert with that internal combustion engine is an 80-horsepower electric motor that produces 153 ft-lbs of torque. The traction battery pack for this machine is the standard NiMH that holds 1.4 kilowatt-hours of energy. Add that all together and you’ve got serious moving power.
Guess what? I used it all on my trips and credit the Power (PWR) switch – there’s also ECO and EV switches available on the central stack to adjust one’s driving attitude. Truth be told, I haven’t messed with the EV switch because I know the Prius doesn’t have nearly the capability of the Ford Fusion in that area. Once I got power down, I’d engage the ECO mode and just let the car do what it likes to do: cruise efficiently.
This third generation Prius has more power than those that came before it and is certainly easier on the eye. The looks are definitely more sleek than the second generation and, with the PWR button engaged this hybrid feels almost sporty in the twisties.
The Prius poses well for its photographs and. In the Barcelona red metallic with Bisque leather seating. The light color inside certainly keeps the car cooler than the darker, available gray, particularly with the slanted windshield that may cheat the air but certainly gives up more heat than it could.
Toyota’s Prius is certainly a compact car at 175 inches in length, 68.7 inches of width, standing 58.7 inches tall on a 105.3-inch tidy wheelbase. It has an engaging 5.5 inches of ground clearance, turns in a good 36 feet (for a front-wheel-drive machine) and weighs 3042 pounds, again not bad for a hybrid.
Cost on this car is a hefty $33,079. It has an opening stanza of $28,020 including destination and three options. The advanced technology package includes dynamic radar cruise control, pre-collision system, lane keeping assist, intelligent parking assist with backup camera, voice-activated touch-screen DVD navigation system with 8-speaker JBL 4-disc audio that is accessed by a tilt of the navigation system screen, integrated XM satellite radio (NavTraffic included with fee); hands-free phone capability and music streaming via Bluetooth wireless technology. The carpet floor mats and cargo mat command $200 and Toyota’s VIP RS32000 security system adds $359.
But this trip with the 2010 Prius V is all about the feelings of driving for more than 1000 miles in less than seven days. It was quite an interesting voyage:
The introduction of the 2011 Scion tC is being held in San Diego and I’m headed to the Se Hotel with the navigation system in use. I’d already checked Google for their ideas on getting to the hotel but decided to try out the Navi system’s idea and found it a far better way to go, in terms of traffic and fewer turns. I’d used the PWR button to get past a few members of the anti-destination league and made the trip on a reported 49 mpg. I later discovered the fuel usage monitor on the central screen is about 2-3 mpg happy.
Comfort wasn’t much of a factor heading down to San Diego as I needed to make a few stops on the way. And I never did bother to set the lane keep assist (LKA) system because it bothers me a lot. So does the backup beep, but there’s no way to turn that off. The radar cruise control can be adjusted to three settings so that if the driver wants to keep less than 12 car-lengths between vehicles, it can be adjusted down on the lower right of the steering wheel, along with the unused LKA.
The valet parkers took the car away after I removed all of our gear and we didn’t see the Prius again until the following afternoon.
At that time I was joined by another journalist who lives in the Bay Area; since the travel plan included a trip to Infineon Raceway Sears Point for the IZOD IndyCar Series race and a Thursday night stop at said friend’s home nearby, we saw no reason for him to fly back and meet me at his home. It would certainly make the trip more enjoyable for me, too.
2010 Toyota PriusEnlarge Photo