One of the criticisms of the 2004-2009 Prius was that the interior was plain, perhaps even a little grim. The company took the criticisms to heart, and have vastly improved the visual and tactile qualities of the 2010 Toyota Prius.

The plastics they chose are more pleasant to look at and touch, and we really loved the optional two-tone treatments. Overall, we feel the new interiors give a richer and more luxurious feel to the newest iteration of the world's most popular hybrid car, and we called them one of the Ten Best Things about the 2010 Toyota Prius.

The dashboard of the 2010 Prius still has a slightly Space Age vibe, with a driver information center toward the center of the top surface and halfway to the base of the windshield--which sits way, waaaaay out there toward the front of the car. There's still the standard instrument cluster, of course, and the entertainment system and display for the optional navigation system are located in the center of the dash.

The front seats have been completely redesigned, with a shape said to reduce driver fatigue and a seatback that's 1.5 inches thinner, giving rear passengers almost an inch more knee room. The front seats also travel on a longer track, offering shorter and taller drivers a greater range of adjustment.

The rear seats are split 60-40, with a folding armrest and a neat new feature: rear headrests that fold forward and down, to improve the driver's field of vision through the rear-view mirror, when the seats aren't in use.

Both the seat inserts and the upper part of the instrument panel adopt a unique pattern of leaf veins for their graining, quietly underscoring the car's light touch on the environment--although when the pattern is pressed into a large swath of black plastic, the message is subtle indeed.

Three interior colors--dark gray, misty gray, and bisque--are available, with interior trim offered not only in the standard cloth but also in leather. A power lumbar support for the driver's seat is included when buyers order the leather trim.

While the exterior dimensions of the car are very similar to the 2009 model, most interior dimensions got slightly larger--although rear-seat hip room is almost half an inch narrower. Worse yet, rear-seat legroom is reduced by 2.5 inches, which we deemed one of our Five Not-So-Great Things about the car.

Rear headroom goes up 0.3 inch, balanced by a reduction in front headroom of the same amount (although two 6-foot men sitting in the front seats had more than adequate space above their heads). In the rear, those same two 6-foot men found adequate room for their legs. The central, third position in the rear, however, is strictly for kids or short trips--you wouldn't want to drive cross-country sitting there.

2010 Toyota Prius

2010 Toyota Prius

2010 Toyota Prius rear seat

2010 Toyota Prius rear seat