By Mike Gotez
If you want to understand what the new-gen Toyota Prius is all about, just consider this: Toyota’s objective is to sell 400,000 units each year by 2010. This will make Prius one of Toyota’s top selling global vehicles, right alongside venerable nameplates, like Camry and Corolla. Can you say “mainstream?”
With this model, Toyota believes Prius will shed its “second car in the family” and/or “super econo freak” status, and take its place as a prime family vehicle. So witness the larger size, larger engine, and feature-laden interior.
The 1.8-litre Atkinson-cycle engine is tuned to make lots of torque, so it can run at lower rpm at highway speeds. The engine also features an electric water pump, a new exhaust circulation system for faster warm-up, and no drive belts anywhere.
A new driver interface provides lots of fuel efficiency feed back to help the driver acquire eco-driving skills. Three are three selectable driving modes: EV mode allows for battery power at low speeds for about a 1.5 km; Power mode for a sportier drive; And Eco mode for optimum efficiency. A repositioned battery-cooling unit, and space saving contoured front seats, along with a bit more overall length, all contribute to more rear-seat and cargo space.