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PriusChat's 2010 Prius In-Depth Review and First Drive

Discussion in 'Prius, Hybrid, EV and Alt-Fuel News' started by Danny, Mar 25, 2009.

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  1. Danny

    Danny Admin/Founder Staff Member

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    053 2010 Prius.jpg
    It’s 3am and I don’t think Toyota knows where their 2010 Prius is. Hell, I don’t even know where we are. I’ve been riding with Wayne Gerdes from CleanMPG for a few hours and now it’s finally my turn to drive as we head back to the Toyota Media Preview. My turn to see what kind of MPG I can get out of the 2010 Prius, not hypermiling, but “Dannymiling”. Dannymiling is how I’d venture to guess a normal Prius owner would drive their car: 5 miles over the speed limit on the interstate, cruise control on, climate control on and set to a comfortable temperature. But tonight the elements are against me. The temperature is rapidly dropping from the 40s into the 30s. Dannymiling my 2006 Prius in these conditions back home would result in mid-40 MPGs. Will tonight be any different? The short answer? Yes. The long answer? Read on.

    Exterior

    My 2006 Prius has elicited from friends such nicknames as “The Lawnmower”, “The Golf Cart”, “Your Weird Looking Car”, and a few others not fit for print. And while words could never hurt me, especially when quick mileage comparisons always silence the skeptics, I must admit the gusto I felt when I first saw the sharp redesign. The 2010 Prius brings the design of the car into the mainstream while still allowing it to be easily identified as a Prius. Aggressive lines have been added to the body, resulting in a sportier, updated look and, dare I say, sexiness. I doubt anyone’s ever used that word to describe a Prius, but the optional 17- inch alloy wheels definitely reinforce the message.
    [​IMG]

    The new aggressive shape is functional, as well, creating a drag coefficient of 0.25 – one of the best in the world for a production car. The shape of the body minimizes airflow and turbulence. The upper grille opening has been minimized to help the air flow smoothly over the top half of the car's body. The area below the bumper was also redesigned, with Toyota adding “Aero Corners” - a design element to improve airflow around the wheelhouse. The enlarged lower grille opening reduces airflow resistance and increases cooling efficiency. Toyota also added extensive underbody covers to the Prius in order to reduce under-floor Cd. The rear of the Prius now has a longer spoiler on the back deck and the rear bumper mirrors the Aero Corners from the front for enhanced aerodynamic performance.

    The wheelbase size remains the same from the 2G over to the 3G at 106.3 inches, as does the height at 58.7 inches. The 3rd Generation Prius is longer and wider, though, adding over half an inch in length and three quarters of an inch in width. Overall length now comes in at 175.6 inches (+0.60) and overall width is 68.7 inches (+0.79).

    The Prius has lost some of its clownish qualities, and not to its detriment. Gone is the goofy, whip-style rooftop antenna. It’s been replaced by a much cooler, stubby-style antenna that has the satellite radio antenna built into the base. In keeping, the lip below the rear bumper has also been updated with sharp, clean stylings. The front pillar has been brought forward to connect to the headlamps in one fluid motion, but this change also has the indirect effect of improving the visibility for the driver while looking to the left.

    Toyota did continue with a couple of poor design decisions, though, one being the wheels. The standard 15-inch wheels are arguably uglier than the 2nd Generation’s (2004-2009) and, opposite from the 2nd Generation, they actually get uglier when you remove the wheel covers (mainly because the wheels are missing the center “T” emblem caps). Since 4 of the 5 available model grades come with the 15-inch wheels, it would have been nice to see Toyota make a better choice for the consumer.

    Lighting
    [​IMG]

    The 2010 Prius sees the end-of-life for HID headlights in the Prius model line. The HIDs have been replaced by LED headlamps which will supposedly provide the same light output as the HIDs did in the 2004-2009 Prius, but at the same time consume 17% less power than HID low beams. The LED headlamp option is just one of the many options that Toyota is bringing from the Lexus luxury LS models. Options that you usually don't have access to unless you are buying a $105,000 car. Unfortunately, I didn't get an opportunity to test these lights at night.

    The car that I did take out at night was equipped with the standard halogen headlights, and I must say that I was pleased. While they do not have the whiter light that I am used to with my 2006 Prius HIDs, the coverage of the headlights is excellent and the high-beams are very very bright. I even had no problem seeing in unlit, forested areas, which is much better than I can say for many standard halogen headlights. Did I mention that they are very very very bright?

    Fog lamps are available as part of the Prius V model. The Prius II, III, and IV models have cutouts for fog lamps, so I'm sure that will be a popular aftermarket addition.

    The 2004 Prius was one of the first cars, especially in its price range, to have LED brake lamps as standard equipment. The 2010 Prius now includes LED taillamps so the entire red-lit section of the rear lamp housing is equipped with LEDs. These LEDs reduce power consumption an astonishing 88% vs. the previous model.

    Interior

    The Cockpit
    [​IMG]

    Ever since the infamous Bossdowner-leaked photos of the 2010 showed up on PriusChat, there has been great debate over the interior redesign of the Prius. Many PriusChatters (myself included) disliked the new cockpit design and the display changes.

    Boy, were we wrong.

    As soon as you sit down in the 2010 Prius, you immediately notice that the driver's area is much more functional, ergonomic, and intuitive. Toyota has moved the speedometer panel toward the center of the dash, making it much easier to check your speed, MPGs, and, if you choose the option, navigation screen without taking your eyes off the road.

    The Driver's Seat

    If you've ever driven a 2nd Generation Prius for more than an hour or two at a time, you already know that the Achilles heal of the 2004-2009 Prius driving experience is the driver's seat. It's just not a comfortable place to be for extended periods of time, and many PriusChatters have gone as far as to replace the seats with a very pricey Volvo variety. While the 2010 seats may still not compare to Volvo's, they are greatly improved... So improved that throughout the many hours I either sat behind the wheel or in the passenger's seat, discomfort never even came to mind. If you opt for the leather packages (model Prius IV or V), you also get heated front seats with driver's side power lumbar support.

    At 5'10”, I've never had to worry about this, but many of the taller Prius owners out there had hoped to be able to slide their seat back further for more leg room. Toyota has listened and responded by increasing the seat slide travel distance and also adding manual seat height adjustment. Prius engineers included a telescopic steering wheel, which I never missed in my 2006, but I found myself using for the benefit of additional comfort in the 2010.

    The glove boxes are largely unchanged from the 2nd Generation to the 3rd Generation. There are still 2 of them stacked on top of one another and they provide a great deal of storage.

    The center armrest console has been through some changes. In the 2010, only 1 cup holder is visible, but don't worry, as the new armrest slides back, a second removable cup holder is exposed. The console box still holds a 12-volt power outlet, the AUX audio input jack, and a removable tray. One new addition on the removable tray is wire-management cutouts so that you can use the tray to hold your MP3 player. On the other hand, it seems pointless to leave your MP3 player in the console box unless it's playing a set playlist.

    One feature I think many 2004-2009 Prius owners will miss is the 2 additional cup holders right behind the rear armrest console. In order to make room for the sliding armrest, these 2 cup holders were moved to the folding armrest in the backseat, rendering them useless for front-seat occupants. On a positive note, the bottle holders down on the driver's and passenger's doors do appear to be more usable in the 2010, plus there is additional storage room under the front center console. I'll hold my final judgement until I go on my first road trip in the 2010 Prius.

    Instrument Cluster

    As I mentioned above, the biggest interior change on the 2010 Prius is the redesign of the front center console and instrument cluster. As soon as you sit down in the car you realize why Toyota modified the 2nd Generation design. Everything is much easier to reach and work through while driving. I never noticed how often I take my eyes off the road in my 2006 until I drove around the 2010. The new EV, ECO, and PWR mode buttons are easy to find and turn on/off while in the midst of driving (I'll go into these later). The Climate, Audio, and Driving Mode buttons are all designed to be flush with the console and make for a very attractive appearance. The only button I have a complaint about is the new placement of the iconic “Power” ignition button. Instead of being placed prominently higher up on the dash as it was on the 2nd Generation, the Power button has been relegated further down, where a traditional key-based ignition would be located. I guess this is just another way of Toyota trying to mainstream the car. Or maybe they were having problems with people playing with buttons and hitting the Power button while driving, I don't know. The Combination Meter remains largely unchanged with the speedometer, shift position indicator, fuel gauge, etc. One thing the meter does add, and greatly to its benefit, is an instantaneous fuel consumption meter, much like what you may have seen in the Camry Hybrid or Honda Civic Hybrid. It is surprisingly helpful to have the meter right next to the speedometer.

    Multi-Information Display
    [​IMG][​IMG][​IMG][​IMG]
    The Multi-Function Display (MFD) in the 2004-2009 Prius models has been replaced in the 2010 Prius by the Multi-Information Display. The MID is a 5-inch wide Full Integrated-Vacuum Fluorescent Display (VI-FD). Instead of having mileage and hybrid system information shared on a display with the climate control system, audio system, and navigation, the MID was designed solely to help the driver maximize fuel economy and develop efficient driving habits. What does this mean? It means more screens, more data, and more help with the daily MPG game.

    The Energy Monitor screen displays energy flow and battery charge, just like in the 2nd Generation Prius. The only downside to the new Energy Monitor is the lack of color compared to the 2nd Gen. It's not quite as “pretty”. It is also the only screen on the MID missing the ECO indicator, which tells you when you are driving the most efficiently.

    The new Fuel Consumption screens are much improved. They provide consumption (MPG) data in both 1 and 5 minute increments. Toyota has also added a past fuel consumption record. This screen shows the MPGs from your past 5 trips (a new trip begins every time you reset the Trip Odometer). There is 1 screen each for the Trip A and Trip B odometer. Trip information provided along the bottom of the screens also includes Cruising Range (distance to empty) and average speed.
    The crown jewel of the new MID is the Hybrid System Indicator (I'll call it HSI for short). This is a screen that I just couldn't wrap my head around until I drove the new Prius. It's tough to explain in words or tell from photos, but it basically tells you how your driving style is impacting fuel efficiency in real time. You want to keep the meter as far to the left as possible. If you start filling up the red Power side of the meter then you are dogging the car. Luckily, it's pretty hard to fill this part of the meter. You can also watch the battery charge through regenerative braking on this screen. The HSI screen is the one I used 95% of the time I drove the Prius.

    Driving Modes

    Other than fun little sports cars, the Prius is probably the closest you'll come to playing a video game while driving. The constant goal of maximizing your MPGs quickly makes the Prius a fun car to drive in possibly the least traditional sense of the word “fun”. Well, get comfy in that video game chair because the Driving Mode buttons make the Prius go from being an Atari to a Wii.

    The 2010 Prius comes with 3 different Driving modes: EV, Eco, and Power. In EV Mode, the HV ECU operates the vehicle using only MG2 (the electric motor) if all of the computer's required conditions are met. In order to first get into EV mode, the SOC (state of charge) battery level must be four bars or more and the defroster has to be off. Press the EV button and you're set. You can then continue in EV mode as long as you keep the car at or under 25 MPH for up to a mile depending on your battery level. If you push the throttle too hard, the HV ECU will kick you out of EV mode. Even though I wasn't officially in EV Mode, I was able to get the system to allow me to run only from the electric motor at speeds up to 41 MPH, like the 2nd Generation Prius.

    Eco Mode is engaged by pressing the ECO button and it changes the Prius' operation in a number of ways. According to Toyota, it maximizes fuel savings across all driving conditions. ECO modifies the electronic throttle control program to reduce the throttle opening to a max of 11.6%. ECO also alters air conditioning operation by modulating the compressor speed. It improves acceleration performance in low-traction conditions like ice and snow, as the reduced power output helps to minimize wheel slippage. Basically, it keeps you from being a knucklehead. EPA fuel economy calculations do not take into account ECO mode, so drivers may see up to a 3% increase in highway MPGs by using the mode – that could bring highway fuel economy up to 49.5 MPG. ECO is also the one mode of the three that is a “set it and forget it” mode. The Prius' computer system will remember that you last drove with ECO enabled and will continue in ECO mode unless you deselect ECO or select another driving mode.

    Power mode is the mode that will probably be used the least, but is the most fun to enable. Pressing the PWR button increases throttle response and optimizes acceleration performance in the middle range more than normal. Remember the red Power side of the Hybrid System Indicator? PWR mode is when you will find yourself over on that side of the indicator. More on the PWR mode later in the Performance section of the review.

    Touch Tracer

    At this point, you're probably wondering how you switch through all of the MID screens. The steering wheel controls are your ticket, and the Display button will cycle you through the various screens. Perhaps the 2nd most consistent complaint regarding the 2004-2009 Prius, after the driver's seat, was the dim lighting behind the steering wheel controls. If you didn't know your way around the steering wheel by touch and memory, it was difficult to find the button you needed. Since the steering wheel controlled everything from the audio to the climate control to the navigation system, it was important to know what you were looking for. The easy and obvious solution was to add a dimmer switch. Toyota decided easy and obvious is not the Prius' style, so they created a whole new on-screen system called Touch Tracer. It's a pretty amazing solution to a simple problem, and here's how it works. As you place your finger, thumb, or whatever appendage you use on one of the steering wheel controls, a Touch Tracer screen overlays on top of the speedometer and the button you are touching turns amber. When you remove your finger, the button is no longer highlighted and the overlay screen goes away. It's a great way for the driver to keep their eyes on the road while feeling around for the right button. It might get old seeing the Touch Tracer screen after you have a feel for where all of the buttons are, but Toyota was smart and allows you to turn the system on and off in a customizable setting menu.

    Noise

    The 2004-2009 Prius suffers from a series of noise issues ranging from wind noise, road noise, tire noise, and, most frustrating for me, dash squeaks. My time with the 2010 Prius was spent mostly with the radio off in order to monitor these various sounds and my impression is that Toyota has eliminated almost all of the sources of these annoying noises. I drove cars with at least 2 different models of tires on them and did not notice nearly the amount of road noise that comes out of the 2nd Generation's standard Goodyear Integrity tires (more on tires later). The main source of dash squeaks in my 2006 is from the air conditioning vents. This problem looks like it may be solved by not having so many separate pieces make up the dash. I heard no squeaks during the 8 or so hours I spent in the 2010 Prius. Now while driving, the only noticeable source of noise is the wind coming across the A-pillar. And you kind of have to listen for it, to be honest.

    Audio System
    [​IMG][​IMG]
    The 2010 Prius comes standard with a six-speaker system with AM/FM tuner and in-dash CD player. The CD player can play both MP3 and WMA files, and an AUX jack is located in the center armrest for plugging in MP3 players or external satellite radio tuners. An XM satellite radio antenna is built into all Prius models, but the standard audio system does not come with the satellite tuner built in. I'm guessing there will be a dealer-installed option available.

    The stepped-up audio option, which comes with the Prius III, IV, and V models, is a JBL system with an in-dash 6-disc CD changer, 8 speakers, integrated XM satellite radio tuner with 90 days of free service, and hands-free Bluetooth capabilities for your cell phone.

    The top-end audio option is available as part of the Navigation package and includes a 4-disc CD changer, 8 speakers, integrated XM radio and XM NavTraffic, and Bluetooth capabilities. This package also enables you to use Bluetooth's A2DP protocol to stream music wirelessly from your cell phone to the Prius' audio system. The Navigation system also includes a rearview camera that is displayed through the navigation display. The navigation system itself is a 6th generation system by Denso.

    The first thing I tested on the navigation was to see if the system is like the 2nd Gen and locks the user out if the car is in motion. Sadly, this is still the case. I tried pouring many glasses of Napa Valley wine for Chief Engineer Otsuka, but was unable to get him to reveal an “Easter Egg” workaround. One piece of good news is that the “I Agree” screen does automatically go away after 3 seconds or so. One step at a time for Toyota, I guess.

    The navigation system is much like the one in the 2nd Generation Prius, but there are definite improvements. The voice menus are easier to work through and the search functionality is a whole lot better at finding what you're looking for. You can now type in 'McDonalds' or 'McDonald's' and it will come back with the same results. Not that you should have trouble finding a McDonald's, anyway.

    Unfortunately, the Prius audio system still falls flat when it comes to actually playing music. And I do mean flat. I road tested the JBL Navigation system, which is the top-end unit, using a CD as source material and it sounds exactly like my 2006 Prius before I added my beloved Kenwood mini-sub. It lacks the mid-range and bass that I expected Toyota to correct. The audio system is probably the most disappointing thing that Toyota heard complaints from Prius owners about but didn't do anything to improve. I also wonder why Toyota didn't partner with Apple to make a kick-ass iPod integration. Prius and Apple are 2 brands that are strongly connected, and it shocks me that one of them didn't think about contacting the other to make it happen.

    Rear Passenger Compartment

    Friends and family of mine always look at my 2006 Prius from the outside and make rash judgements of the interior space. I love the looks on their faces when they ride in the backseat and are surprised at how much room there is. The 2010 Prius will be no different for your friends and family. According to Chief Engineer Akihiko Otsuka, their approach was “Outside Minimum, Inside Maximum.” The Prius design team again succeeded in enlarging interior volume and increased the rear seat knee space by 0.79 inches.

    My friends have had a respectable gripe with the rear seat headroom. Basically, if you have friends over 6 feet tall that sit in the backseat of your 2nd Gen Prius on a regular basis, you probably have a lot of hair gel in the headliner of your car. The 2010 Prius design team moved the apex of the roof back 4 inches to provide much-needed rear seat head clearance. No more hair gel stains!

    Cargo Area

    The rear cargo area is largely unchanged in design. Toyota was able to add an extra 0.5 cu. Ft of cargo volume under both the tonneau cover and under the floor itself, in the spare tire compartment. The engineers kept the tonneau cover storage slot and it appears that there is still enough room for my Kenwood mini-sub to fit under the floor.

    The hatchback door is noticeably lighter, making it much easier to open and close the door. I found that I could easily close the hatch with one downward motion instead of the “pull down, then press down on the license plate to close” combination of actions I have to take in my 2006. Toyota also added an additional pull handle on the inside of the door so now you can pull the hatchback door down from either the left or right side. Perhaps my anxiety will be lifted that my left-handed wife will scratch the car as she closes it from the outside.

    Hybrid Synergy Drive
    [​IMG]

    Each generation of the Toyota brings with it a redesigned hybrid system, and the 2010 Prius is no different. While other manufacturers are content with their current generation of hybrid technology, Toyota continues to push the engineering to new levels. The Hybrid Synergy Drive (HSD) system is more than 90% newly developed. So, what's the 10% of the HSD that's not new? The Ni-MH battery pack. But even the battery now provides increased output and is more compact in order to allow for more cargo room.

    The new HSD system allows the Prius to achieve 51 MPG in the city and 48 on the interstate, according to EPA estimates. The increased MPGs even come with a larger engine – a 1.8 liter engine, compared to the 2nd Gen's 1.5 liter. According to Chief Otsuka, “One of the biggest factors in achieving an EPA rating of 50 miles per gallon is a larger engine. Why you may think a smaller engine would be more efficient, this is not so. The new beltless 1.8 liter gas engine delivers more torque and runs at lower RPMs at highway speeds for better mileage and uphill performance.”

    The new electric water pump and exhaust heat recirculation system also contribute to the engine's efficiency. The exhaust heat recirculation system is used to heat engine coolant and reduce the time it takes for the coolant to reach operating temperature. The quicker you reach operating temperature, the sooner you can use EV mode and stop using the gas engine. According to Toyota, the 2nd Generation takes 7 minutes to warm up, but the 3rd Generation only takes 4 minutes. The EHR system also reduces the amount of time it takes for the heater to warm the climate air by 1 minute.

    Performance

    Many of those same friends and former co-workers who called my Prius a lawnmower or didn't think anyone could fit in the backseat also thought that the car had the acceleration and interstate capabilities of a scooter. I would work to change their opinion by explaining to them that it was closer to a Corolla or Civic. Not too impressive, but not as bad as a scooter.

    After driving the 2010 Prius I can now feel comfortable comparing it to a 2.4 liter Toyota Camry or Honda Accord. The acceleration in ECO mode is similar to the 2nd Generation Prius, gets even better in Normal driving mode, and is phenomenal in PWR mode, especially when accelerating between 50-70 MPH. To push the throttle half-way down and pass someone on the highway in PWR mode while being pressed back in my seat was a great surprise. I have personally never had a problem with the performance of my 2006 Prius, but the additional power definitely brings the fun back into driving. And who doesn't want some fun along with extra MPGs?

    Looking for a 0-60 time? It's 9.8 seconds according to Toyota.

    Handling

    Have you ever driven a 2004-2009 Prius on windy roads? Have you ever taken a curve a little too fast, uttered a curse word, and then felt the back end of your Prius slip out from under you? I live in the mountains and I've done this more times than I can count. Ever been driving down a 2 lane highway and had a tractor trailer pass in the opposite direction only to blow you around like a leaf? The instability of the 2nd Generation Prius has led to a few very popular BT Tech performance parts and more than a few “Oh S*#$!” moments.

    Based on my 5 or 6 hours of driving the 2010 Prius, Toyota has addressed most of the handling issues. Toyota increased body rigidity to improve suspension performance and increase roll torsional rigidity. It has a torsion beam rear suspension and a MacPherson strut front suspension to provide greater stabilization.

    I took both the 15-inch and 17-inch wheel models out on a windy course and pushed the Prius hard around the curves. The back end never slipped on me and I didn't notice any understeering. The body still rolled on me a little bit, but that's to be expected for a car in this size and price range. If I took my 2006 along the same course and pushed it the same way, I would probably have driven off the side of the mountain. Believe me, I've done it before in my MR2 Spyder.

    Tires

    The tire selections for the 2010 Prius have not officially been finalized yet, but Toyota reps did tell me that most likely there will be 3 tire models for the 15-inch wheels and 3 tire models for the 17-inch wheels. Which tire a customer receives on their Prius will be based solely on stock and availability at the time of delivery. If you are looking at the Prius models with the 15-inch wheels, your best case scenario is to take delivery of a car with the new Bridgestone Ecopia EP100 low rolling resistance tire. These tires look like they will offer the best MPGs and lessen road noise.

    Advanced Technology Features

    The main reason I became interested in the Prius back in 2003 was because of the techno gadgets available in the car at such a low price. Where else could you find a car with a Smart Key System, HID headlights, and Bluetooth capabilities starting under $20,000? Toyota continues the tradition of pushing the Prius into the forefront of gadgetry with some pretty amazing technology features in the 2010 – features you won't find on any other car within about $50,000 of its selling price.

    Dynamic Radar Cruise Control

    The radar cruise control system is a fairly easy system to explain: You set your cruise speed and you set the distance you want to remain back from the traffic in front of you (Short, Medium, or Long). If the distance to the vehicle in front of you is less than what you set, the Dynamic Radar Cruise Control system will decelerate the vehicle for you. At first the system partially closes the throttle valve, but if the gap between you and the car in front of you continues to close, the system can fully close the throttle and activate light braking. In the event that rapid deceleration is necessary, the driver will hear a buzzer urging them to take evasive action.

    It's a fantastic tool to keep you from having to constantly adjust your speed, and I found that it really helps with focusing on the road ahead of me.

    Lane Keep Assist

    This feature is exactly what it sounds like, though it actually performs 2 functions: Lane Departure Warning (LDW) and Lane Keep Assist (LKA). When enabled, it will alert and assist the driver to stay in a lane. LDW uses the lane markers to detect when the driver is venturing out of their lane without the use of a turn signal. When the system detects possible lane departure, a buzzer will sound and LDW will apply a small inward steering torque to warn the driver to help keep them in their lane. The LKA system was designed to reduce driver steering effort by generating steering torque to assist the driver in following the lane center. For these systems to work, the driver must keep their hands on the wheel – no autopilot system, yet!

    Intelligent Parking Assist

    The Intelligent Parking Assist (IPA) system coming to the US-based Prius is a new, simplified version of the IPA feature that has been available in Japanese Priuses since 2004. It is a function that helps you parallel park your car by first measuring and determining if the parking space is large enough, using sonar sensors built into the sides of the front bumpers. Once you have OK'd the space selection, the Prius' computer takes over the steering and the driver controls the speed via the brake pedal. The system will prompt you to slow down if you are going too fast, and it will sound a buzzer from slow to fast repetition to indicate proximity to objects.

    IPA is a very cool feature that seems to have a bit of novelty to it. I'm just not sure if you can realistically spare the time it takes to use the system to park on a busy street. Maybe once you master the system you can really whip into parking spots, but based on the demonstrations I've seen and taken part in, I wouldn't try IPA for the first time on a main thoroughfare.

    Solar Powered Ventilation System

    A very “cool” and potential “bright” spot in the Prius' new bag of tricks is the Solar Roof. Ever watch the local news during the summer when they are doing those tests to see how hot the interior of a car gets on a sunny day? It's usually close to 200 degrees due to the lack of ventilation and the effect of the sun shining through all of that glass. The Solar Powered Ventilation System harnesses that sun and uses it to cool the interior with outside air.

    The solar panel cell is the same as those used in home solar systems. The roof generates about 59W of electricity to run the ventilation system. According to Chief Otsuka, one of the original intended uses of the Solar Roof was to charge the hybrid battery, but the system was not able to produce enough power.

    Remote Air Conditioning System

    The remote A/C system allows the owner to pre-cool the interior of the Prius for up to 3 minutes before entering the car. The system shuts off if the battery charge level drops below 3 bars or if a door is unlocked or opened.

    Conclusions

    Just as Toyota has made the PriusChat community a part of the 3rd Generation Prius launch, it is obvious that when they started making changes, they took their customer's input and feedback into the design room. And the Prius finally feels like a car that would impress the average car buyer on a traditional test drive. Interstate acceleration? Check. Curvy road test? Check. Quiet passenger compartment? Check. Instead of being an MPG-focused car at all costs, Toyota has designed a car that gets fantastic gas mileage while somehow finding a way to be a fun drive. Are there improvements to be made? Of course. But Toyota has sold 1.2 million Prius hybrids worldwide by giving the consumer a car they want and need. The 2010 Prius continues this mission and steps up the game with improved efficiency, performance, handling, and technology features.

    As I finish Dannymiling down the interstate and pull back into the hotel parking lot, I do a final temperature check: 37 degrees. I finish the 60 mile trek averaging 50.6 MPG. 5% over the EPA tests and 5 MPG over what I would normally average. Through all of the information and explanation, the Prius speaks for itself.
  2. TonyPSchaefer

    TonyPSchaefer Your Friendly Moderator Staff Member

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    heh heh, "Dannymiling."
    Not bad mileage for a rookie in a new car on a cold night.
    (I mean rookie as in "first time in a 2010")

    Great write-up.
  3. Mike Dimmick

    Mike Dimmick Active Member

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    "The only button I have a complaint about is the new placement of the iconic “Power†ignition button. Instead of being placed prominently higher up on the dash as it was on the 2nd Generation, the Power button has been relegated further down, where a traditional key-based ignition would be located."

    The placement of the Power button on the LHD cars was a blatant bodge. The RHD cars, which I strongly suspect were the original design (Japan is RHD), have the Power button by the driver's right hand, below the right-most vent: as you say, where the traditional key-based ignition would be located.

    [​IMG]

    The keyfob slot (required on this car - UK did not get SKS) is further to the left of the power button - you can just see the small ring attached to the key through the steering wheel (below the upper spoke).

    I haven't seen any sign of keyfob slots on the 2010, although I haven't seen a decent RHD photo - didn't someone mention that non-SKS cars would have proximity detection of the keyfob near the power button?

    Edit: relationship of power button and fob slot on UK 2G Prius:

    [​IMG]

    The other control is the manual headlamp adjuster, required in all cars to adjust the vertical aim when carrying loads that compress the rear suspension, lowering the back and therefore raising the beam.
  4. fredthepostman

    fredthepostman Member

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    Thanks Danny! I think you covered everything. :)
  5. stream

    stream Senior Member

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    Thanks for the review.

    What is the difference between the audio system w/ the nav option, vs. the JBL system in the III, IV and V models?

    Bluetooth streaming?

    Is the sound quality better?

    Is it correct that is has a 4 CD changer, vs. a 6 CD changer for the non-nav JBL system?
  6. HTMLSpinnr

    HTMLSpinnr Moderator Staff Member

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    Bluetooth streaming - correct.

    Sound is the same otherwise.

    The NAV version has a 4 disc changer to accomodate the DVD drive used for the NAV system that resides directly below. Both are behind the MFD screen.
  7. Manksgloob

    Manksgloob Member

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    I had asked someone -- I forgot her name -- this same question at the Connection and she confirmed that the detector is near the power button. This is the same thing owners with the SKS would have to do to start the car if the battery in the FOB ran out.
  8. usbseawolf2000

    usbseawolf2000 HSD PhD

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    Wowie!! Short trip MPG should almost double?
  9. zenMachine

    zenMachine Just another Onionhead

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    Good review, Danny. Thanks.

    BTW, you've actually driven off a mountain in your M2? :eek:
  10. Bob Hayes

    Bob Hayes New Member

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    Sounds like a lot of great changes! However, there are three other key factors that make me hesitate:

    * I would have to give up my beloved carpool sticker, which allows me to use carpool lanes all over California.

    * Seems like a lot of really interesting cars are coming out in 2010, including the Volt...and many others. Maybe makes sense to wait?

    * The sound system on my 2005 Package 6 failed, and Toyota refuses to budge: $800 to fix a CD that won't eject. I guess there goes my gas savings for the past few years!

    Yes...I think I'll wait.
  11. HTMLSpinnr

    HTMLSpinnr Moderator Staff Member

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    Fortunately in AZ, we're allowed to transfer our blue plates.



    I've said it before, and I'll say it again. Those who buy a Prius ONLY to save gas money are seriously misguided. Compared to a smaller, traditional fuel efficient cars, it's hard to break even on a Prius unless fuel is well in excess of $4/gal.

    Personally, I buy them because I support the technology and WAY they accomplish using less, and each revision is a step further in the right direction of overall efficiency.
  12. Danny

    Danny Admin/Founder Staff Member

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    Yep, and I have the pictures to prove it. Let me dig them up and I'll post them for you to check out. Pretty scary experience, but it ended in the best way possible: me alive.
  13. spwolf

    spwolf Senior Member

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    btw, there will be USB/IPOD accessory for prius, dealer installed... just like for many (if not most) of new Toyota vehicles.
  14. spwolf

    spwolf Senior Member

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    thats why you save money compared to similar car with similar options, not Yaris.
  15. Tideland Prius

    Tideland Prius Moderator of the North Staff Member

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    I actually like that setup.


    In all new cars that don't have a slot, if the battery dies, you put the fob near the POWER button and then start the car within x amount of time (might be 10 secs but don't quote me).
  16. Rae Vynn

    Rae Vynn Watch out, I have a degree in BS!

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    Great review, Danny! :p
  17. geeky teacher

    geeky teacher New Member

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    Excellent review Danny! Did moving the Speedometer display reduce or eliminate the glare on the windshield problem?
  18. Danny

    Danny Admin/Founder Staff Member

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    It eliminated it from what I could tell while driving at night. That will be a welcome change!
  19. Jared

    Jared Member

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    Thanks for the informative review. I will be very happy if the new Prius is more like a Camry in terms of comfort and power. I am not a hypermiler - I want to have a little fun driving and not have a sore ass after 45 minutes in the seat. And yes, the new car does look sportier than the old. From the article, it appears that I will have to select power mode every time. Why? It should simply stay in the mode you select.
  20. daniel

    daniel Cat Lovers Against the Bomb

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    Thanks for the in-depth review, Danny. I'll be sticking with my 2004, but your review makes the 2010 sound better than earlier descriptions of the specs. Better handling in wind sounds nice. I'd consider the 2010 for the radar and LKA if those were available without leather. I won't buy leather.

    Daniel
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