The cars we loved.
The Toyota Prius was the world’s first mas produced electric hybrid car introduced in Japan 1997 and the rest of the world later. The first generation was a rather frumpy Dr. Seuss looking compact sedan that used a 1.5 L DOHC inline 4 cylinder ULEV engine. The name Prius was chosen because it meant that it would be the predecessor of cars to come, according to a Toyota spokesman. A similar version of the original car was sold in the United States in 2001. It’s 70 hp gasoline engine was augmented by a permanent magnet AC electric motor using a nickel-hydride battery pack. The car featured air conditioning and a continuiouly variable transmission as standard equipment.
The breakthrough for the Prius came with the 2004 model year. The redesigned car was sleeker and featured a unique fastback hatch design that made it stick out in the marketplace. So distinctive was the body style that it became sonomonious with hybrid, as competing models like Honda’s re-introduced Insight took on the same basic shape. The new Prius featured all-electric A/C compressor for engine cooling and an electric power steering system to reduce the number of engine belt driven accessories. The most impressive feature of the Prius was if gas mileage.
When oil prices shot up dramatically to $4 a gallon, buyers clamoured for the 48 mpg Prius. So much so that in Places like California, the Prius was THE hot car to have. Increased demand mad the Prius the thrid most popular Toyota, behind the Corolla and Camry worldwide.Loaded with technology, the Prius has a long list of first including a solar powered ventilation system and a remote activated air conditioning system. Many Prius feature a voice activated touch screen DVD navigation system. Other options included dynamic radar cruise control, keep lane assist and a parking assist system.The goodness that was the Prius fuel efficiency did not extend to its performance.
At best the Prius was called adequate by the automitive press, but the Prius mission was never to be sporting. It was simply a comfortable, efficient and practical 4 door sedan with a useful hatchback. Recognizing that fact, the Prius was often a best buy or top ten car where mainstream automotive values were cherished (Consumer Reports and Time magazine for instance). Every aspect of the Prius design had increasing fuel efficiency as its goal, from the wedge shape, down to the 15 in wheels and tires used. So far, due to its high initial price, and popularity of older models, there have not been many second-hand cars floating around. For that reason not many customized versions are rolling around (yet).In 2010, the Prius went through yet another redesign, this time the car was made slightly larger and more rakish looking with a .25cd coefficient drag boosting it’s mileage to 50 mpg. Now with 98 hp from its new 1.8 L engine, the Prius could not be called a sports car, but it’s performance and appearance was improved to almost sporty status.