We have just received a brand new third generation Toyota Prius into the Top Speed test fleet. Wile we are usually about high horsepower rides that are in contention to set land speed records even we must bow out and admit that these little Hybrid commuter cars are only going to become more common as time goes on. Now this is not quite the prototype we saw back in May, our 2010 Prius didn’t come with the very trick sunroof mounted solar panel and we didn’t even get leather. But that’s OK, because we do have the same 1.8 Liter Hybrid Synergy Drive engine that was in the previous Prius we saw. In an effort to improve fuel economy Toyota has decided to increase the engine’s displacement giving it more torque across the rev band meaning that it won’t have to work as hard getting the Prius moving to the tune of 50 MPG.

It seems that everything about the Prius was made so that the car could cut through the air with the least amount of resistance. The bulges on the sides of the front bumper push air away from the turbulent rotating wheels at speed, which are covered with some pretty interesting plastic covers that were almost certainly included as a fuel-saving afterthought. The design team even incorporated finlets at the rear of the flat paneled under tray that are more functional that the majority of the diffusers bolted to the bottom of a rear bumper. Toyota engineers go to countless measures to squeeze every last ounce of efficiency from their flagship hybrid. A number that was being thrown around when we first spoke to a Toyota representative was one million, because that is how much the Japanese automaker spends every hour of every working day conducting drag reduction research which has led to the Prius’ .25 Cd.

Continued after the jump.

Initial thoughts: 2010 Toyota Prius
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As part of the car’s low energy consumption gameplan, it has been fitted with LED headlamps and tail lamps, a feature only currently being offered on the Audi R8. On the inside the driver sits on new-plastic, a non-petroleum based synthetic product that Toyota only used in few select locations. New-plastic is denser than the traditional polymer so the added weight was an issue and therefore used only in select locations, but it is another environmentally friendly nod for the Japanese automaker. At first we were honestly a little turned off by the lack of leather or even a satellite radio, but when we looked at the spec sheet we could see why. Our 2010 Toyota Prius was selling for $23,500. After factoring in whatever cash for clunkers and or alternative fuel tax credit you could have had its like Toyota is practically giving the car to you, that is unless the dealership is looking for a premium. If Toyota can sell their most popular gas/electric hybrid at this price it will surely give the affordable Insight from Honda a run for its money.

Initial thoughts: 2010 Toyota Prius
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  (714) posted on 08.26.2011

Its kind of smart move in using a lighter material for the car to make it more powerful. I guess everyone was captivated with the awesome styling of the car.

  (528) posted on 08.26.2011

I like the decency in the styling of the vehicle. The design in both exterior and interior is kind of elegant. Well, its a great thing that Toyota have plan in increasing the engine displacement of the Prius.

  (444) posted on 08.1.2011

Well, the plan for engine upgrade is impressive. I’m really looking forward for a more powerful version of this car and reliable as well!

  (762) posted on 08.1.2011

haha. They have used a plastic material instead of carbon fiber material to make the car lighter it seems that the Toyota is having a cost cutting in the production of the Yaris!

  (313) posted on 03.25.2011

I don’t think so. They are actually replacing plastic materials for the interior so that the weight of the car will be lessen. When the car is lighter, less gas is needed to run the car. BTW, I don’t think that we could expect a carbon fiber materials for the cheaper price on the Prius.

  (727) posted on 03.16.2011

So, does it mean that, through the fact Prius come up with it "low energy consumption game plan", they are going to use "plastic" materials for the interior. It make me conclude that Prius is just a cheap choice!

  (427) posted on 03.2.2011

I wonder how much American auto manufacturers are hyping this up? I can "recall" dozens and dozens of Ford, Chevy, and Chrysler recalls that were very serious in nature. I’ll still buy a Toyota over an "American" can any day of the week.

  (474) posted on 03.2.2011

You know how the media has always loves to bash the imports while hyping the Big3. I’m sure all of these incidents were made up by the American-loving media. Kind of like how open the Japanese car market is, and how closed the US market is.

  (449) posted on 01.31.2011

Toyota just hides there problems well... That’s why people believe there cars are more reliable.. I have owned all American cars except a 2005 Corolla and I had more problems with that than all my American cars put together..never again Toyota.

  (613) posted on 01.31.2011

This is a bad recall problem but I wonder how much American auto manufacturers are hyping this up?I can "recall" dozens and dozens of Ford, Chevy, and Chrysler recalls that were very serious in nature. I’ll still buy a Toyota over an "American" can any day of the week.

  (937) posted on 12.6.2010

my former although is that prius shall be a heavenly Hybrid car. but my prediction is inaccurate, toyota is having a big complication within recalls. hopefull they wont bankrupt themselves.

  (247) posted on 11.7.2010

Those wheels were made from leftover Halloween paper plates.

  (780) posted on 12.21.2009

My initial thoughts about the very first Hybrid Prius is that no car enthusiast will be wanting that car. Considering on how innovative other concept cars are. Anyways, as it turns out, it is one of the most efficient car out there. The only question is that how many service stations are out there for this kind of technologies. Are all mechanics and gasoline stations equipped with knowledge for the maintenance and fixing of this car?

  (182) posted on 08.31.2009

The price is not bad if you are really serious about energy saving tips, then buying this car with its current price wouldn’t be that bad. But the Mitsu Evo Sportback is priced lower so I’d go for my old bet.

  (1022) posted on 08.27.2009

Scratch that. .26 was with the sunroof solar panel which was why they removed it.

  (1022) posted on 08.27.2009

Hm, I thought the drag coefficient was .26.

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