- - Thursday, January 20, 2011

The new Prius is something to get all charged up about.

Toyota Motors just unveiled the Prius family of vehicles at the 2011 North American International Auto Show, happening now through this Sunday, January 23 in Detroit, Michigan. In addition to the current third-generation Prius and Prius Plug-in Hybrid Vehicle (PHV), the new Prius V midsize hybrid-electric vehicle and the Prius C Concept vehicle joined the iconic hybrid brand, broadening the appeal of Prius to all ages and lifestyles.

With the expansion of the Prius family, a new evolution of vehicles will further increase the acceptance of hybrids with Prius’ same core values of high fuel economy, low emissions, proven technology and environmental stewardship.

“This is no ordinary family. It’s a modern family with a Prius for everyone,” said Bob Carter, Toyota Division group vice president and general manager. “The Prius V is an all-new dedicated hybrid vehicle, and all future Prius family members will be as well. They will all share common Prius attributes but will be unique, with a special appeal to different buyers.”

The Prius midsize liftback has accounted for more than 955,000 sales in the U.S. since it was introduced in 2000. The third-generation Prius, which reached dealerships in June 2009, has continued the hybrid’s heritage of exceptional fuel economy and low emissions, while becoming the third-best selling Toyota passenger car in the U.S.

The Prius has also been a technological flagship vehicle, offering new features to the Toyota brand like Touch Tracer Display, Solar Powered ventilation, Smart Key System with Push Button Start, Lane Keep Assist, an Advanced Parking Guidance System and LED headlamps.

The new Prius V, with “V” expressing the vehicle’s versatility, will meet the needs of growing families with active lifestyles while providing the same attributes traditionally found in the Prius DNA. It will share the current generation Prius’ platform and Hybrid Synergy Drive technology. Featuring a compact exterior yet spacious interior, the Prius V will feature over 50-percent more interior cargo space than the current Prius.

With a balance between outstanding spaciousness, refined style, and smooth aerodynamics, Prius V has a low 0.29 coefficient of drag, which does not inhibit the vehicle’s convenient packaging. It is a new vehicle designed from the ground up, with a shape that evolved from Prius rather than being an elongated version.

The exterior styling is sleek, rounded and bold, with an extended roofline that allows the vehicle to retain the triangular silhouette symbolic of Prius. The trapezoidal-shaped front features sharp-edged headlamps, wind-slipping aero corners for improved aerodynamics and an enlarged under grille, which all help create a unique design evolving from the current Prius. Prius V’s rear styling is highlighted by a refined backdoor panel, intricate combination taillights and a specially designed roof spoiler that improves air flow.

Inside, the Prius V emphasizes overall proportion with spaciousness and flexibility for active families. Comfortable interior space and good visibility has been assisted by a high seating position, ample head room, and an impressive 38-inch couple distance, providing generous rear legroom. A low, wide-opening rear hatch reveals 34.3 cubic feet of cargo space behind the rear seats, making it the most spacious dedicated hybrid vehicle on the market and better than some compact SUVs.

Comfortable seating for five is specifically designed for young families. Sliding second row seats allow for easier ingress and egress and rear-storage flexibility, with a 45-degree recline for greater comfort. The 60/40 split, folding rear seats present four different seat arrangements that provide excellent usability for passengers and luggage, while a fold-flat front-passenger seat allows for extremely long cargo.

Also available, and a Toyota-first, is a resin Panoramic View moonroof with power retractable sun shades that provides an open atmosphere in the cabin with a 40-percent reduction in weight as compared to conventional glass roofs of the same size, and excellent heat insulation performance.

Up front, instrument-panel controls, including a single-dial air-conditioning control and a center-mounted digital combination meter, provide an advanced look and user-friendly command. The driving controls — including the Push Button Start, parking switch, electronic shift lever, and driving mode selection — are distinguished by silver trim.

Despite the spaciousness of a family friendly midsize vehicle, the Prius V will deliver estimated EPA fuel economy ratings of 42 mpg city, 38 mpg highway and 40 mpg combined, the best fuel economy ratings of any SUV, crossover, or wagon on the market. It will also emit 66-percent fewer smog-forming emissions than the average new vehicle.

Like the current generation Prius, the Prius V is a showcase of technology that will include many of the same standard features. Four driving modes (Normal, Power, Eco and EV) satisfy a variety of road conditions and driver preferences. A Smart Key System with Push Button Start, an electronic shift lever, Hill Start Assist Control (HAC), and a back-up camera are standard. Available options include energy-efficient LED headlamps, Dynamic Radar Cruise Control with a Pre-Collision System (PCS), and Advanced Parking Guidance System.

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