Now in its fifth year since a major redesign, the Toyota Prius is still the only dedicated hybrid model in America and remains the most fuel-efficient car. It is powered by Toyota's Hybrid Synergy Drive, in which an electric motor and gasoline engine work in concert to achieve maximum efficiency.
The electric motor powers the Prius until it reaches about 12 mph. Then the gasoline engine takes over in a virtually seamless transition. The electric motor kicks in when needed to furnish additional power. When the car is stopped or coasting, the gasoline engine turns itself off; the battery pack recharges during braking.
The Prius is available in the base and Touring trims; its competition is the Honda Civic Hybrid.
New for 2009
There are no significant changes on the 2009 Toyota Prius.
The Prius is only available as a four-door hatchback. This hybrid is one of the most aerodynamic cars available. The Prius is 175 inches long and 67.9 inches wide, about the same size as the Civic Hybrid.
- Available 15- or 16-inch alloy wheels
- Standard body-colored handles and mirrors
- Standard rear-window wiper and defroster
- Optional heated mirrors (standard on Touring)
- Optional high-intensity headlamps (standard on Touring)
Up to five people can fit inside the Prius; passenger volume is 96 cubic feet — roomy for a compact car. There's a standard 60/40-split rear bench; trunk space is 14.4 cubic feet.
- Available cloth and leather seating surfaces
- Standard power locks and windows
- Standard air conditioning
- Standard push-button start and remote keyless entry
- Optional cruise control (standard on Touring)
- Optional JBL audio system with Bluetooth phone connectivity
- Optional voice-activated DVD-navigation system
Under the Hood
The Prius seeks efficiency, averaging 46 mpg in combined city and highway driving. Even so, its 0-60 acceleration is average for a compact.
- 76-horsepower, 1.5-liter four-cylinder with 82 pounds-feet of torque
- 50-kilowatt, 500-volt electric motor with 295 pounds-feet of torque
- Continuously variable automatic transmission
- Tuned suspension (on Touring model)
Safety features include:
- Standard side-impact airbags
- Standard side curtain airbags
- Standard antilock brakes and traction control
- Optional electronic stability system
- Optional security system
- Optional backup camera