Toyota Prius

Toyota Prius

The Prius is the flagship of the environmental movement. Toyota ’s wonder child has dominated the world of hybrids since its introduction in 2001. As a man with petrol in my veins and a favorite cars list that includes names like Porsche and Lamborghini , the Prius should be the antithesis of all I love about motoring. With a focus on quiet and environmentally friendly transportation, the Prius has been branded as one of the worst and most uninteresting thing to drive in the world.

This is my first real experience with Toyota’s darling though, and I wanted to at least give it a fair shake. The model sitting in my drive is the Prius V model, the largest of the family and the least fuel efficient. It has a CVT, some batteries and only two pedals. After a week with this machine and more than 500 miles I learned a lot about it.

Was it the terrible car I had feared or did it turn out to be something else entirely? Hit the jump to find out.

Read more about my drive of the 2014 Toyota Prius V after the break.

It was a day early, but we hope you enjoyed this week’s episode of the TopSpeed Podcast . There was the usual bit of silliness, a fair amount of arguing and we even managed to talk about some car stuff.

As always, we want to say a very special thanks to our live viewers.

For Weekly Wheels, I discuss my time with the Prius V , Mark talks to us about what he thinks I got wrong with the Lexus RX 450h , and Justin tells us how much he liked the new 2015 Honda Fit .

For news stories we cover the new fourth-generation Miata engine and reveal date, talk about Mercedes bringing back the Maybach name, and we cover our exclusive news of Kahn Design moving into car production.

After that we spend some time with Mark talking about the 100-year anniversary of Dodge , how they are celebrating with a 707 horsepower Challenger, and end with a look at the future of the rock-crawling Jeep Wrangler . To finish the news, I had a few things to say about a faster Alfa Romeo 4C and looked at how you can buy a cheap Porsche Boxster or Cayman next summer.

For our viewer-question segment we talk about cars that can do epic burnouts, cars we want to see do epic burnouts and then we talk about racing video games. With the video games we take a second to look at our all-time favorite games and touch on the games that are coming out in the next six to nine months. There is even a sneak peak at a new piece I am working on.

To end the show we do our traditional Own, Drive, Burn and it was easily the hardest one we had yet. We have to choose between a legendary classic Porsche , Ferrari and Lamborghini .

If you liked the show, let us know in the comments. If you didn’t like the show, let us know that too. Apart from the comments, you can reach us on Twitter @TopSpeedPodcast or by email, Podcast@TopSpeed.com. Don’t forget, if you like the show but can’t always make it the to site to watch or listen, you can subscribe to our cast on iTunes.

Stay safe this weekend, and we will see you guys next week.

We hope everyone enjoyed the show! A special big thanks goes out to our live viewers and commentators. You make the show even more enjoyable.

This week is crammed full of crazy and wild stuff, and we start things off with a bang. Right after introductions we talk about my upcoming trip to Colorado to drive some V-8 powered Miatas. We then jump straight into the Weekly Wheels segment where Justin talks about his time with the spacious Kia Sorento . Spoiler alert: he really liked it. We kept the SUV theme going with my talk about the Lexus RX 450h . You get a good explanation about why I was so hard on the thing in my review. We finish with Mark’s thoughts on the Prius .

If you think this list is a bit boring, I have a brand new Miata coming soon, so that will be in next-week’s podcast.

For the news, we start with the somber news of the tragedy at Pikes Peak. To keep from depressing everyone on this Thursday we move to Mark’s trip to the Hyundai manufacturing plant in Alabama. From there we move to the insanity that is a 700 horsepower Challenger. There is lots of grunting and yelling of ’Merica in that segment.

To finish out the news, we do a mad dash through a pile of Goodwood news including the new Focus ST , the McLaren 650s GT3 and Nissan’s new hill climb record.

We finish the show up with a few questions from the viewers that range from how to buy a used car, to how to escape rapid soccer fans. We also look at the future of the Focus RS and the next-generation Miata .

The last piece of the show is Own, Drive, Burn and we have a large Mercedes , an armored personnel carrier and a monster truck. This whole show was full of awesome and crazy.

If you have questions for us, or if you have suggestions for Own, Drive, Burn, just drop them in comments, or hit us up on the Twitter @TopSpeedPodcast . You can also send us an email to Podcast@TopSpeed.com.

Have a safe weekend and we will see you next Thursday.

The original Prius hit the streets of America back in 2000 with its Corolla -like looks and a funky hybrid-electric drive that was unlike anything else on U.S. roads except the two-seat Honda Insight. That first-generation Prius was replaced in 2004 with the familiar hunchback turtle look we’re all used to. The second generation is where Toyota really gained ground with hybrid sales, moving over 600,000 cars before the third-generation Prius took over in 2009. With the new model, the Prius gained a few reshaped exterior panels and a more futuristic interior while retaining is stellar fuel economy numbers. Since then, Toyota has moved over 710,000 third-gen cars.

I recently found myself behind the wheel of a 2014 Toyota Prius with the “Three Model” option package. One level up from the base model my tester came equipped with some nice features like a 6.1-inch touch screen in the center dash, Sirius XM radio, navigation, Toyota’s smart key entry and start system, and power windows. But despite those features, the car still felt very basic. Cloth seats, a rubber steering wheel, manual seats, and hard plastics everywhere kept the car feeling rather down-market.

Besides the interior’s shortcomings, the Prius performed just as you’d expect: slow and efficient. So does the car live up to all the hype that’s been following it all these years? Click past the jump to find out.

Click past the jump for the full review of the 2014 Toyota Prius

Posted on by Simona  
Toyota Prius Plug-in Hybrid

Toyota unveiled the Prius hybrid back in 1997 and since then, the model has been through three generational changes — the latest one was revealed in 2009. When Toyota released the Prius, it quickly known as the face of hybrid vehicles. With competition starting to become fiercer each year, Toyota needs to keep improving the Prius to keep it in the No. 1 slot in the hybrid market in it next generation.

Rumors suggest that the next-generation Prius will take its market dominance to a whole new level. Toyota will go for a completely revised look and will move it to New Global Architecture platform that will make it lighter and cheaper to develop.This revised look is anticipated to give the Prius a sportier look than the current model, much like the difference between the last-generation Corolla and the current generation.

According to a report from Automotive News, the next-generation Prius “will have a new type of hybrid system," with a new, ultra-efficient gasoline engine and powerful, lightweight lithium-ion batteries. This new engine will achieve thermal efficiency rates above 40 percent — up from the current 38.5% — which will help deliver around an 8-percent increase in fuel economy.

Expect the fourth-generation Toyota Prius to be put on sale sometime in 2015.

Click past the jump to read more about the 2015 Toyota Prius.

Note: Current model pictured here.

Posted on by TB +  

Toyota still leads the pack when it comes to electrified models and is asserting that lead with a new contest, the Prius Plug-in MPG Challenge, which pits 30 New York metro region drivers against each other to log the highest MPG over a one-month loaner period. The program kicks off its first wave of contestants today at a key hand-off in New Jersey.

The MPG Challenge underscores Toyota’s confidence in their Hybrid Synergy Drive’s ability to deliver amazing real-world returns, something that marks their models apart from pure EV’s like the Nissan Leaf and Tesla Model S as well as conventional economy hatchbacks like the Hyundai Elantra GT and Ford Fiesta . Toyota’s point of view in the efficiency debate is valuable. They’re betting that their Prius Plug-in can entice normal drivers to "hyper-mile," a term meaning to maximize potential range through creative (and very slow) driving.

Can the Prius Plug-in Hybrid resolve the range anxiety of EV drivers and the disillusion felt by buyers of small gasoline-powered cars that can barely get near their official EPA stats – no matter how slowly they drive. The idea is to use the MPG Challenge as both a sales promotion and consumer education platform, while also highlighting the latest tech advancements in the 2013 Prius Plug-in Hybrid in the hands of real-life potential buyers.

How is Toyota positioned to weather the current state of evolving eco-car priorities? As the hard-core greens adopt full EV models, will Priuses start coming factory-direct in Taxi-cab yellow with barf-proof vinyl upholstery?

Click past the jump for the full review of the Prius Plug-in Hybrid, including detailed info on ordering dedicated chargers from Toyota’s new home-electricity partner Leviton.

Toyota will offer proof that the hybrid technology is "no barrier to creating eye-popping custom concepts" at the 2013 Tokyo Auto Salon the. It will achieve this with the unveiling of the Aqua G Sports — a concept car based on the Prius hatchback — a model that quickly become one of Japan’s best-selling cars since its launch last year.

The new Aqua G Sports concept adds a more aggressive appearance to the exterior and interior, plus a re-tuned suspension and body-reinforcing braces to strengthen its sporting character and handling. Despite these updates, the Aqua concept keeps the usual hybrid powertrain found in the Prius. This means the new Aqua concept will be powered by a 1.8-liter four-cylinder engine that delivers a total of 99 horsepower combined with an electric motor that adds another 82 horsepower.

Full details on the new Toyota Aqua G Sports concept will be unveiled during its official debut at the Tokyo Auto Salon.

NASCAR driver Clint Bowyer should be feeling good these days. Fresh off of his third NASCAR Sprint Cup win of the season in Charlotte, Bowyer is ready to conquer another challenge.

Instead of riding to another victory on the track, Bowyer was part of the Toyota Racing Dream Build Challenge where he went up against fellow NASCAR driver Kyle Busch , NHRA Funny Car driver Alexis DeJoria, and NHRA Top Fuel points leader Antron Brown to build the ultimate race car.

For Bowyer, his offering is called the "Tekked-Out" Prius , which as the name suggests, is far from the mundane Prius you see gallivanting on the streets these days. Together with RKM Performance Center, Bowyer went to work on the Prius, describing the theme of his creation as a "young, sophisticated global thinker meets a connected, socially conscious traveler."

As far as modifications go, the "Tekked Out" Prius received two custom body kits, a new custom Toyota grille and intake inserts, custom airbrush graphics and stenciling, and a set of EVOD wheels.

The folks at RKM Performance also performed major electronic modifications on the Prius, highlighted by a new 17-inch custom touchscreen with a built-in Windows 7 computer, two ASUS 12-inch tablets, and a side-view camera system that takes the place of the old factory mirrors. On top of that, Bowyer and RKM Performance also installed 45 feet of fiber-optic lighting, and a 16-speaker JBL audio system with two amplifiers and six crossovers to help brighten the mood and please the eardrums inside the Prius.

The interior also received a number of luxury touches, including 10 hides of custom leather, two hides of premium designer suede, 9 yards of Alcantara suede, 5 yards of imported German carpet, and two spools of electric blue stitching accents.

Finally, Bowyer wanted to give his creation some racing attitude and set out to do so by installing a set of Megan Racing springs and shocks to bring the hybrid down to a ride height "lower than a Sprint Cup car."

Toyota is slowly announcing the trim levels for the Prius ’ 2013 model year and it has been relatively “blah” so far. Toyota is at least attempting to spice things up – or at least mailing in its attempt – by releasing a :ahem: “Special Edition” model that it has dubbed the Prius Persona Series.

This so-called special edition has pretty much just two things that are special about it. The first is a black-cherry paint job that can only be found on the Persona Series model. Also unique to this model are the darker-finished 17-inch wheels and the “Persona Series” badges on the outside. In addition to the black-cherry paint, you can also opt for black and Blizzard Pearl.

On the inside, Toyota will fit the Prius Persona Series with black SofTex seats with red accent stitching. For those that don’t know, SofTex is imitation leather that Toyota patented earlier this year. Also wrapped in charcoal-colored SofTex with black accents and red contrasting stitching is the steering wheel.

Lastly, the Prius Persona Series gets dark chrome accents throughout the interior, including on the steering wheel, gear shifter ring, arm rest, door handles, and front cup holders. Other than those additions, the Prius Persona Series comes with the same 134-horsepower, 1.8-liter engine that the base Prius Two comes with.

Toyota has priced this special model at $27,890, which is about $1,300 more than the 2013 Prius Three. At least this is a step in the right direction for the Prius, but we are still waiting for Toyota to find a way to really make the Prius “cool.” The wait shall continue…

Looks like states are finally jumping on the autonomous-driving bandwagon, but this time it has a little “oomph” behind it. Having Nevada pass a bill specifically to allow and regulate automated driving was great, but this time it’s California that gave it the green light. California’s driving and automotive laws have always had a big influence on federal laws – except lane splitting, thank goodness – so chances are more states will follow and the NHTSA will eventually jump on board.

The thing to remember here is that this bill was not to allow autonomous cars to drive on California roads, as California has no laws barring self-driving cars. This law is to govern the production and testing of these cars in hopes of giving manufacturers a clear set of rules regarding these cars, which may press more automakers into this realm.

The first thing that California cleared up is defining an autonomous vehicle. This is any vehicle that can drive without any human intervention, so this eliminates Cadillac’s self-driving car for now and leaves only the Google car (seen in the above video). It also specifies that it is legal to manufacture your own autonomous car and drive it on California highways, which is an interesting topic of debate.

The bill goes on to state that the car must have a licensed driver in the driver’s seat and that driver must be designated by the car’s builder as a legal driver for said vehicle. The only exception to this rule is on a closed course. The manufacturer must also have an insurance policy or bond in the amount of $5 million prior to testing the vehicle. From there the bill goes on to define what safety issues the manufacturer, car, and driver must comply with.

Keep in mind that this is only the first step for this bill, as it must pass the State Assembly next. Given the bill passed 37 – 0, we doubt it will be held up.

Click past the jump to read the bill. Yes, it is in regular English, not “politicianese.”


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