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2010 Toyota Prius First Impressions

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Toyota's Prius was the first hybrid-powered car to give eco-savvy consumers a realistic choice when it came to selecting a vehicle that imposed less harm on the environment while rewarding drivers with reduced operating expenses. Toyota has just launched the third generation of this mid-size miser, and it re-establishes the ever-popular Prius as a technology leader in the burgeoning segment of hybrid-powered vehicles.

The Prius achieves fuel economy while treating its occupants to an impressive level of comfort and safety.

Technologically innovative
Hybrid technology can no longer be considered new but it can quite justly be considered vastly improved when it comes to the 2010 Prius. Toyota engineers have managed to downsize and lighten many of the Prius's heavy hybrid components while increasing the car's power and fuel efficiency.

In fact the voltage generated by the new setup has been boosted from 500V to 650V. A revised Miller-cycle gas engine nicely complements the increased electrical production while displacing 1.8-litres of combustible atmosphere, up from last year's 1.5-litres.

The new engine is more powerful, and thanks in part to being belt-less, more economical. That's right, you won't find a belt driving a power steering pump, or water pump for that matter. Those fixtures are electrically spun, which means that no fossil fuel is directly attributable to their operation.

The combined output of the re-engineered hybrid powerplant is 134 horsepower and 105 pound-feet of torque. That's an increase of 24 horsepower and 22 pound-feet of torque over 2009. These performance figures rate similar to the output of a 2.4-litre mill.

The most fascinating aspect of "more power" is that of "less fuel." This inverse relationship has the 2010 Prius fuel economy estimated at just 3.7L/100km city driving and 4.0L/100km highway driving, resulting in an overall rating of 3.8L/100km; and how sensational is that!

Outstanding fuel economy accompanied by pleasing driving dynamics
The second generation Prius was not a car that I found particularly pleasurable to drive. It felt poorly refined and somewhat low rent. Those concerns have been banished for 2010. The new Prius presents a much more upscale driving experience.

The transition from electric to gas/electric now takes place more seamlessly, and the whole powertrain is quieter and more operationally refined than in the past. The improved operation is accompanied by increased performance as well.

The 2010 Prius fuel economy estimated at just 3.7L/100km city driving and 4.0L/100km highway driving.