Toyota introduced a new, roomier Prius V production vehicle and smaller Prius C concept at the 2011 Detroit auto show, making good on its promise to expand the successful Prius brand name to encompass a line of fuel-efficient, hybrid models. The first new model to reach showrooms will be the previously revealed Prius plug-in, a variant of the current car with the ability to drive on pure electric power for about 13 miles and recharge from household current. Toyota has sold just under 1 million Prius hatchbacks in the United States since 2000.
The Prius V essentially raises the roof on the familiar Prius body shape, increasing rear head room and making a 50-percent improvement in cargo space. The “V” designates Versatility, and this body configuration should be more welcoming to families to who feel they are outgrowing smaller cars. Despite the changed silhouette, the Prius V still slices through the air with a low 0.29 coefficient of drag.
There is again seating for five, though with more rear passenger space. The second-row seat slides and is split 60/40 to enable it to be folded, tilted, and moved to accommodate a range of combinations. Behind the rear seats, the hatch opens to expose 34.3 cubic feet of cargo space, on par with some compact SUVs.
A Toyota first, the Prius V will be available with a resin panoramic moonroof with power-retractable sun shades. By using resin in place of glass, this design reduces weight by 40 percent.
Sharing the current Prius platform and powertrain, the taller Prius V measure 181.7 inches in length and is motivated by a 134-horsepower hybrid system that teams a 1.8-liter four-cylinder engine, electric motor, and nickel-metal hybrid battery pack. This combination in the Prius V will provide an EPA-estimated 42 mpg city, 38 mph highway, with 40 mpg combined. This is not quite up to the 50 mpg combined that the regular Prius boasts, but it is still well above almost anything else on the market—especially at this size.
The Prius V will share many of the common Prius features, such as four driving modes (Normal, Power, Eco and EV) and large, center display. Standard features include hill-start assist, smart key with push-button start, and a back-up camera. Notable options include LED headlamps, radar-based dynamic cruise control with pre-collision, and parking guidance.
The Prius V will be one of the first Toyota models to feature the new Entune multimedia system, a function-rich infotainment system that draws data from the Internet via smart phone to provide services such as streaming music, Web search, and traffic information. Applications enable the phone to interact with the car to perform myriad functions and provide a means for future system upgrades.
Also shown was the Prius C concept, a smaller hybrid that looks like it will take some sales from the Honda Fit and Insight. Very little was said about this upcoming model beyond that it targets young urbanites, as is the case with most vehicles at auto shows, or so the press conferences would have you believe. (Consequently, there appears to be a large, fertile market of suburban couch potatoes and working stiffs just waiting to be tapped.) Toyota assured the media that the Prius C will be the best thing since sliced bread with surprising interior space and thrifty, Prius-grade fuel economy. More details will presumably be announced at a future show.
The Prius V goes on sale summer 2011, followed by the Prius plug-in and Prius C in early 2012.
Read our 2010 Toyota Prius review.
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