MPG-o-Matic Toyota Prius Review Summary: The 2010 Toyota Prius is the most fuel-efficient gasoline powered car for sale in America today. The third-generation Prius offers significant improvements over previous versions, and is fully capable of scoring 60 MPG combined when driven with a light foot.
The 2010 Prius features an upgraded Hybrid Synergy Drive system with a DOHC 1.8 liter 16-valve VVT-i four cylinder engine and permanent magnet AC synchronous electric motor mated to an electronic continuously variable transmission (ECVT). The gasoline engine produces 98 horsepower (HP) and 105 foot pounds of torque, while the electric motor adds 80 HP and 153 foot pounds of torque. The engine in the 2010 Prius is significantly larger than the 1.5 liter engine used in earlier models.
The official gas mileage estimates for the 2010 Toyota Prius are 51 city/48 highway miles per gallon (MPG), a slight improvement over earlier models, despite the increase in displacement.
We travelled more than 750 hundred miles on our Blue Ribbon Metallic 2010 Prius and dismissed the official fuel economy estimates, landing an average of 59.2 MPG on the highway, and 55.1 MPG combined. With those numbers, the 11.9 gallon gas tank provides a generous cruising range.
Interstate Mileage Testing:
- Cruise control set to 68 MPH, A/C off, ECO mode, windows up (1-inch gap): 56.5 MPG
- Cruise control off, target speed 60-72 MPH, A/C off, ECO mode, windows up (1-inch gap): 61.9 MPG
Overall test period temperatures ranged from the seventies to eighties, with Interstate highway testing temperatures in the seventy degree range.
Even with the added 3/10ths of a liter, the 2010 Prius covers the 0-60 sprint in the same ballpark as its predecessor.
The ride and handling, however, have improved significantly over earlier models.
The 2010 Prius comes configured with one of four trim levels for consumers (there’s a base model that’s intended specifically for fleets).
The interior of the 2010 Prius is more hospitable, as well, although its travels further into the spaceship realm of design. We appreciate the Prius IV’s leather seating surfaces, heated front seats, and power lumbar support.
Our Prius IV test unit was fitted with the Solar Roof Package, which includes a tilt/slide sunroof and interior fan to ventilate a parked car on hot sunny days with power from rooftop solar cells. The $3,600 option package also includes a voice-activated DVD touchscreen navigation system and an integrated backup camera.
The backup camera is especially welcome, as rearward visibility in the Prius is somewhat compromised by the car’s aerodynamic design.
The Prius IV features an eight-speaker JBL sound system along with hands-free Bluetooth and Bluetooth music streaming. While there is a auxiliary audio input jack in the center console as standard issue,
the Prius oddly lacks provisions for USB iPod hookup is an added-cost option. Steering wheel controls are well thought out.
The rear seat of the Prius provides a respectable amount of headroom and leg room. Cargo flexibility is a highlight and the Prius can handle those Costco runs with ease. 60/40 rear seats fold flat and provide 21.6 cubic feet of cargo capacity.
Scoring higher fuel economy marks with the Prius is simply a matter of diligence. Once you learn how to drive with a light foot and max out the hybrid system’s potential, you’ll find that 60 or 70 MPG segments are easy to achieve, under the right conditions.
The transmission provides Eco, Power, and EV modes. (We performed the majority of our testing in Eco mode.) EV mode is appropriate only for short-term low speed crawling, in the absence of significant grades.
All 2010 Prius are fitted with P195/65R15 tires, with the exception of the Prius V, which is fitted with larger P215/45R17 tires. Integrated regenerative braking and anti-lock brakes are standard, with power-assisted ventilated discs in the front and solid discs in the rear. We found the regenerative brakes to operate smoothly.
All-in-all, the third-generation 2010 Toyota Prius delivers a significant step up from the previous edition, with a more comfortable interior, a smoother ride, and higher fuel efficiency. Although the car’s design might be polarizing, there’s no denying the technical achievement. When driven properly and under the right conditions, conscientious Prius drivers can achieve positively remarkable mileage results.
- by Daniel Gray
September 21st, 2009
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