Toyota Goes Even 'Greener'
Leader in hybrid technology continues the charge.
Toyota Prius c Concept
Toyota is amping up its product line in 2011, and we mean that in a purely literal sense. As you may have noticed, hybrid technology is catching on. There was a time when you could almost laugh the idea off. Not anymore. If your company doesn't offer at least one hybrid vehicle, you're more than a little behind the curve. So who's leading the charge? You guessed it: Toyota. And the world's biggest carmaker isn't about to let another automaker sweep the title from under its nose.
Toyota revealed not one, but two cars at the North American International Auto Show here in Detroit. The Prius v is a "big" Prius that you'll be able to buy late this summer, and the Prius c is a "small" Prius that is still in concept phase.
2012 Toyota Prius v
What is it? Think Mazda5 — a micro minivan — but in hybrid form. The "v" stands for versatility.
What makes it special? Toyota says its customers just love the Prius, but always seem to ask for more room. Enter the Prius v, which provides that, with more than 50 percent more interior space than the current model. One might think a car that has ballooned to half again its normal size in all the wrong places would look awkward. But the v doesn't. It does take an almost 25 percent hit in fuel economy, though, giving the new hybrid-micro-van-hatchback-4-door thing an estimated EPA rating of 42 mpg city/38 mpg highway. Credit the increase in drag coefficient — 0.29 versus 0.25 — and the weight penalty associated with the extra space. Other than that, it's a Prius.
When will it be available? Late summer 2011.
How much will it cost? To be determined.
MSN Autos' take? The Prius v can be described as the most literal interpretation possible of giving the people what they want, which is why we have a hard time defining the body style. Its EPA classification is "midsize station wagon," but you can think of it as a Prius with more room. But is it a car? A van? A compact utility vehicle? Does it matter? We'd go for an additional 15 percent hit in mpg in exchange for the off-road ability of a good CUV.
2013 Prius c Concept
What is it? A smaller Prius — probably a Honda CR-Z fighter.
What makes it special? Toyota intends to build "the most value-oriented hybrid in the U.S. market with the highest mileage of any 'cordless' hybrid." The differentiator within the Prius family is this car's "urban appeal." In a nutshell: You'll have even better gas mileage, because you'll have even less space. According to Toyota, the Prius c will come with much of the same technology as offered in the current Prius, likely including the company's awesome Entune multimedia system.
When will it be available? First half of 2012.
How much will it cost? To be determined.
MSN Autos' take? We can't help but wonder if everyone will already have a plug-in hybrid parked in the driveway by the time the Prius v makes it to cities across America. On the other hand, there aren't many driveways in the city, and you can't plug your car in when you're parked 10 blocks from home.
James Tate cut his teeth in the business as a race team crew member before moving to the editorial side as Senior Editor of Sport Compact Car, and his work has appeared in Popular Mechanics, Automobile, Motor Trend and European Car. When not writing, Tate is usually fantasizing about a vintage Porsche 911.
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I have a 2009 Prius and I also have 2 small children and with the 2 cars seats for them and with the 2 tiered trunk - I have more than enough room to take my wife and them on road trips and have lots of storage space - on our last trip from Baltimore to Chicago, I got 53 mpg on the open road with the cruise control set -
I cannot understand why SO many people look down on the Prius - Great fuel economy and lots of room
I really don't give a damn what it looks like. With the money I'm pumping into my current vehicle's tank, I might as well tithe to Exxon as I worship at its pump three times a week...
I just need four wheels, a little power to climb hills and I tend to ride alone, so I don't need storage past a gym bag and a laptop.
I totally agree with 72 degrees. Most of America is so easily taken in by this decades old technology. The only reason why you’re fixated on this technology is because you think it's cleaner then automobile available to the general public at a reasonable cost to the consumer. IT IS NOT THE CLEANEST, NOR IS IT THE CHEAPEST. Whatever the motivation might be for buying a fuel-sipping vehicle, this is not the answer. As 72degrees mentioned, the older TDI VW cars are the perfect solution to saving money at the pump. He forgets to motion another option with the TDI cars. Waste Vegetable Oil, know as (WVO), is another possibility. I have been running my 2003 Jetta TDI on WVO for 3 years now. I've barley spent any thing at the pump in the last couple of years. And the C02 output is considerably less than any vehicle on the road today. If you can't find a classic 03 Jetta TDI like mine, you should consider buying the new Clean Diesel Jetta that came out in 2009. The sulfur content in a TDI is less then a Prius.