Toyota's 2010 Prius is moving swiftly to replace the current-gen car, and we've done our best to capture pictures and get tech info on just what advancements Toyota will be bringing soon to the hybrid fore. But it was PriusChat.com that gets the credit for scoring these pics--an anonymous user posted the 2010 Toyota Prius pics to the site, and Jalopnik later confirmed with Toyota that the pics were real.
So what's new? For one, a family of vehicles. Rumored are a wagon and maybe even a hybrid convertible. All will get a larger interior, enveloped within a body that is longer, wider, and offers a larger rear seat and greater cargo capacity.
Despite power increases, Japanese insiders are even claiming improved fuel economy. A plug-in version might boost fuel economy even further, and ultimately Toyota will fit lighter, smaller lithium-ion batteries in place of the Nickel Metal Hydride batteries currently backing up the Hybrid Synergy Drive system. The new batteries will be more space efficient and store greater amounts of power.
Built at a new plant in Mississippi, the new Prius will also feature solar panels on the roof that will be tasked with powering the vehicles air-conditioning system.
Reaction to the new look has been mixed, but we find the new form to be attractive and aggressive, even sporty. Finally, Toyota has dispensed with the diminutive steel wheels with plastic covers instead setting the new Prius on alloys, lending it a more confident stance.
A unique styling element resides at the D-pillar, with a funky kink that seems to borrow from the Kia Rondo. The Mazda6 seems to have inspired the new Prius' multi-element headlights. Center dash vents have the luxurious air of an 80s S-Class Mercedes, and the drive selector knob has moved to a more traditional location on the angled center console much like the first-gen Lexus RX300. So inside, it looks more like a car and less like an experiment from Bill Gates' Microsoft laboratory.
But, Prius fanatics, do you think this gives the Prius less credibility? Do you like that the Prius shouts its differences to the world, or do you appreciate that the new one will go about its ultra-efficiency in a more subtle manner?
Don't worry - there is still a bit of gee-wizardly to the new Prius. Perhaps William Shatner was asked for advice that led to the decision to include a startup screen that announces: "Welcome to Prius." One could conceivably call down to Scotty for full electronic operation, begging the question: Is the Prius a place, a starship, or just a vehicle?
Maybe this tongue-in-cheek approach to the sober matter of building efficient, economical cars is the next phase for Toyota. Stay tuned for more on the Prius from the 2009 Detroit auto show in January.