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Driven: The 70-MPG 2010 Toyota Prius

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01_2010_toyota_prius_realorrender_450op.

What happens when you unleash a pack of automotive journalists on the newest hybrid on the block--and challenge them to beat the chief engineer's best fuel economy?

If you plan it right--set a low bogey--you'll let journalists write the best story on the 2010 Toyota Prius from behind the wheel. The fuel economy story. That's exactly what Toyota did at the Napa unveiling of the new Prius, where car writers far and wide topped the engineer's 62.9 mpg by as much as 12 mpg.

On a total loop of 33.2 miles, I logged in at 69.5 miles per gallon, without even really trying--just coasting to stops, accelerating very gradually and using the Prius' EV mode to coast into our host hotel. It's 70-mpg performance, if you're only counting two sig figs--and even that was strictly mid-pack. One pair of drivers hit 75.3 miles per gallon under vaguely real-world driving conditions.

Fuel economy is what the 2010 Toyota Prius is all about. Even today, with gas back under $2 a gallon and hybrids selling way more slowly than in 2008, the Prius is still the sales champ of the gas-electric category. No other car even comes close, and no other car is so closely identified with greener driving. The news of the 51-mpg city rating for the Prius, and our mind-blowing economy ratings, simultaneously takes some air out of the lower-mileage 2010 Honda Insight and 2010 Ford Fusion Hybrid, while also also making us wonder why anyone would really need a plug-in Prius.

The 2010 Prius is significantly improved over the prior car (confession: I'm an owner of a 2004 model) in dozens of small ways. Along with exceptional fuel economy, it benefits from a taller, more airy cabin and improved driving feel. It's also a more upscale effort in general, likely because of its close family relationship to the new 2010 Lexus HS 250h.

At the same time, the new Prius is still a hybrid, in driving feel and in appearance. Some of the upgrades have cut down on utility, like the nicer center stack between driver and front passenger that reduces knee room. The biggest concern right now is price: exactly how much will the new Prius cost, and will top versions break the $30,000 barrier?

Pricing comes later, as the Prius goes on sale in a few weeks. Until then, our Bottom Line on the 2010 Toyota Prius is that it ups the ante in the hybrid world with 51-mpg city fuel economy and a finer style.

Get our hands-on road test on our 2010 Toyota Prius page, along with dozens of high-resolution photos.

http://blogs.thecarconnection.com/marty-bl...10-toyota-priusTheCarConnections

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With gas being under $2 for most of the country (it's $2.09 for regular self-serve here), I can't help but wonder why people would buy something SO ugly?! I know they want to make a statement, but seriously, if I'm going to spend 25-30 grand on a car, I want it to look much nicer.

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(confession: I'm an owner of a 2004 model)

Well there you have it. I guess it takes one of those types of people to say the new Prius has "finer styling". That front end is a disaster.

I guess it's just a big circle-jerk with Prius owners. "Look at how awesome we are!"

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I know they want to make a statement, but seriously, if I'm going to spend 25-30 grand on a car, I want it to look much nicer.

And when the Lexus 250h comes out, they'll be wanting 35-40 grand for a Prius with somehow uglier styling and an "L" on the hood. But at least you get a normal dash layout.

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With gas being under $2 for most of the country (it's $2.09 for regular self-serve here), I can't help but wonder why people would buy something SO ugly?! I know they want to make a statement, but seriously, if I'm going to spend 25-30 grand on a car, I want it to look much nicer.

Fear.

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Fear.

Right....

I'm going to go with "Oh I'm image conscious and want to look like I'm saving the world."

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Honestly if this weren't a Toyota Prius, I'd seriously consider one.

It's an affordable, practical, midsized family hatchback - now with decent performance and comfort - that happens to be the most efficient car I can buy.

But because of my innate stubbornness, I won't.

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Volkswagen TDI?

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'93 Geo Metro?

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I'll stick with the simplicity of internal combustion, thanks. And I do not want to look like a DORK.
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Too late, Mr. Cobalt Driver.

I dont like that nose, but the rest of it is acceptable.

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What do you mean "too late"? The Prius is driven exclusively by dorks, that fact is well documented. Cobalt drivers merely go about their bizness quietly while supporting their country.
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I drive a Cobalt, even tho it's my girls and will never look like a dork.

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Horrible...it's sad what's become of the auto industry. This abomination will be snatched up like it was made of gold.

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I personally don't care...as long as there is choice and I can choose either a frugal car or a performance car more power to them.

That said, I think it's ugly and prefer the Insight or the Volt.

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What do you mean "too late"? The Prius is driven exclusively by dorks, that fact is well documented. Cobalt drivers merely go about their bizness quietly while supporting their country.

Hardly...I know plenty of normal people that drive Priuses, so please keep your innaccurate perceptions to yourself.

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The Prius, all generations, can be called at best "quirky" and at worst "hideous" but not really dorky. The Cobalt, on the other hand, looks like the car that spends Friday nights in its parents' basement playing D&D. I'm pretty sure they all come standard with these (sorority girls) or these (everyone else).

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The Prius, all generations, can be called at best "quirky" and at worst "hideous" but not really dorky.

Yeah, and the Prius has buyer demographics any car maker would envy..besides celebs and assorted environmentalists, it has a lot of interest from people in my world--well educated, well paid computer professionals.. I know a lot of people that bought Priuses for the high tech angle. It will be interesting to see if the Insight and Volt gain traction with this market as well..

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Yeah, and the Prius has buyer demographics any car maker would envy..besides celebs and assorted environmentalists, it has a lot of interest from people in my world--well educated, well paid computer professionals.. I know a lot of people that bought Priuses for the high tech angle. It will be interesting to see if the Insight and Volt gain traction with this market as well..

I've seen a good deal of Priuses with McCain-Palin stickers as well - some people just want to use as little oil as possible, whether for national security or air quality reasons, and the Prius just happens to have the highest MPG of any car.

Edited by empowah
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To each his own, but the Prius is the nastiest thing on 4 wheels in my eyes and will remain so.

Contast it with the impressive Tesla, and it really looks bad.

At a more affordable level, the Volt smacks it silly.

I hate everything about the Prius, and each time I see one that feeling is stronger.

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