The Gen III Prius comes with four options, and depending on your region those options may vary. Here in the San Francisco Bay Area, the Prius II (base model 1223) comes standard with the features listed directly below. Scroll down for the Prius III, IV, and V, which have additional packages that include navigation and a solar roof. Finally, even further down, we review and show you some of the new third-generation Prius upgrades and improvements.
1.8L engine, EV Mode, Eco/Power Mode
VSC, Rear Disc Brakes
Driver Knee Airbag
MP3/WMA Capable Audio
Auxiliary Audio Jack
SAT Ready (Roof Antenna + Wiring)
Enhanced Multi-Info Display
Driver Door Smart Key
Telescopic Steering Wheel
Driver Seat Vertical Adjust
Tonneau Cover, Seat Back Pockets
Heated Outside Mirrors
Auto Up/Down on All Windows
MSRP of $22,000 + $750 Destination = $22,750 US
The Prius III (model 1225) adds JBL Premium Audio with 8 Speakers (EJ) (+ 2 speakers + Bluetooth + Integrated SAT Radio). The MSRP is $23,750 with optional packages consisting of NV Voice-activated Navigation System + Backup Camera for $25,550, or SR Solar Roof with Auto Ventilation and Pre-A/C along with the Nav System for $27,350.
The Prius IV (model 1227) includes everything offered with the Prius III and adds Leather Seats, S/W & Trim, Heated Front Seats, Power Driver Lumbar Support, 3-Door Smart Key, Step Lamp, Illuminated Entry, Water Repellant Glass, Upgraded Front/Center Pillar Material, Plasma Cluster (like an ionic breeze air filter), Homelink, and Auto-dimming Mirror for $26,550. With the NV package, it’s $28,350, and with the SR package it’s $30,150.
The Prius V (model 1229) includes everything offered with the Prius IV and adds 17″ Alloy Wheels (which look fantastic, see pictures below), LED Headlamps with Cleaner (the cleaners pop out from panels in the bumper, as shown in the picture below, and spray a cleaning solution) and Fog Lamps, for $28,020. With the NV package, it’s $29,820, and with the SR package it’s $32,520.
Here’s an interesting bit of trivia: You can tell if a Toyota comes from overseas (i.e. Japan) if it has two little plastic squares on the front bumper (as shown below). These squares pop off and have tie-downs underneath which are used during overseas shipping. Older models manufactured in Japan have VIN numbers that start with “J”. All Prius models are shipped from Japan and available to anyone with a $500 deposit.
The new generation III Toyota Prius makes several improvements over the generation II models. To begin with, it’s built on a longer wheel base, which means the body is completely different. Besides being more stable, there is more headroom for large drivers, more trunk space (you can fit two bags of golf clubs), a larger rear window surface for increased visibility, larger triangle windows on the front driver doors for increased visibility, and more passenger room. In the picture below you can see the length difference, and the new 17″ rims on the Prius V make the car look more balanced than the II Prius.
What’s most amazing about this new Prius is that, despite having a larger engine with more horsepower, it gets better mileage than the 2009 and earlier models. The Gen I and II Prius had a 1.5L engine with 76hp; the Gen II 2010 Prius has a 1.8L engine with 98hp. This increase in efficiency results from engine improvements and the new body design. The old Prius had a drag coefficient of .26, and the new one reduces drag to just .25.
Below you can see a shot of the newly redesigned tail end of the Prius, with the larger bottom window and spoiler.
The new Prius gets an estimated city mileage of 51 (highway 48 and combined 50) compared to older versions which were closer to an average 48. I have mixed feelings about the added horsepower and bigger engine size because it means that if they had stuck with a small engine, the Prius could have been even more efficient. There are other improvements in the way of efficiency, though. The Gen III Prius features an “EV mode” button which allows drivers to rely completely on their battery for short periods of time at a low speed. This feature has many uses — sneaking out of your house without waking anyone up, driving short distances around the neighborhood, waiting in traffic — but the greatest potential for this feature is to promote Prius plug-in conversion shops. If I understand the “EV only mode” correctly, then converting a Prius into a plug-in may be even easier and cheaper! Shown below is the EV Mode button, followed by a trunk shot of the new Prius with the spare tire cover off; note the increased width towards the very back end of the truck for transporting golf clubs and other long objects.
The 2010 Prius added several high tech options for anyone who loves iPods and laptops. There is an iPod input jack in the front armrest console (shown above) as well as a voice-activated GPS and navigation system (if you buy the option). My favorite gadget is the new upgraded heads-up display: Instead of just your speed and available gas, this new HUD also displays any dials you are pressing… so when you click the “volume up” button on the steering wheel, the HUD displays an image of the button and highlights the part you are pressing. See the picture below for a visual representation.
One of the other cool features, right out of a sci-fi novel, is technology that uses laser guidance to assist drivers at critical dangerous times, i.e., when the car backs up or when the brakes are urgently needed. Having improved the window visibility, especially in the back, this laser system complements the driver’s view with robotic controls. Let’s say you’re driving down the road not paying much attention, and suddenly everyone around you slams on their brakes. Instead of waiting for you to hit the brakes, your new Prius will automatically start to brake for you! This “smart” laser system is built into the back of the rearview mirror (as shown below) as well as into the backup camera and the Toyota logos on the front and rear of the car.
The logos got a fancy makeover — instead of just chrome plastic on black, the 2010 Prius Toyota logos have a blue-glow background. If you’re a big driver (philosophically or physically) the new Prius is going to appeal to you with its larger engine and increased cabin space. If you’re a passenger, you’ll appreciate the adjustable seat and hollowed-out front armrest area (shown below). Everyone benefits from the improved visibility and gas mileage. And the Gen III Prius just looks cooler, especially with the 17″ rims. I think there’s a lot of potential for these models to be made into the most affordable plug-in hybrid platforms on the market.
Much of the information in this review was provided by two gentlemen at the Toyota dealership in Sunnyvale, California: Greg Sivertson and David Pak. You can reach them by phone at 408-245-6640 for more information.