2010 Toyota Prius
In the ongoing war over which manufacturer is "greenest," Toyota has always used its Prius as a bit of a sales trump card, reminding folks that it was the first to bring a hybrid to mass market with success (remember the failure of the first Honda Insight?).
And Toyota has good reason for this tactic--the Prius has done well for the brand since its introduction.
The 2010 Toyota Prius is the third generation of the car, and along with updated styling, the midsize Prius also gets a power boost, better EPA fuel-economy numbers, and some new features.
For green gearheads, the biggest news is the increase in the EPA fuel-economy numbers--the Prius is now rated at 51 mpg city and 48 mpg highway. That's up from the 48/45 numbers on the 2009 Prius.
There are five trim levels available on the Prius, all labeled in Roman numerals, although the most basic Prius I level isn't actually available to retail buyers.
My tester was a Prius II, which carries a base price of $22,000 and includes such standard features as ABS, traction control, an antiskid system, cruise control, an auxiliary input jack, satellite radio capability, remote keyless entry, and a push button start, among other things.
A short options list included the satellite radio kit ($449) and carpeted floor mats and cargo mat ($200). With the $750 delivery fee, the as-tested total came to $23,399.
Power is provided by a 1.8-liter four-cylinder that is paired with an electric motor for a total of 134 horsepower. Power gets to the front wheels via an electronic continuously-variable automatic transmission (e-CVT).
The transmission can be operated in three modes--power, eco, and EV. EV allows the car to operate in electric only mode up to about 25 mph (although this only lasts for about a mile, and the battery needs to be fully charged), while Power makes the car more responsive to throttle inputs.