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William Maley

2012 Toyota Prius Four

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By William Maley

Staff Writer - CheersandGears.com

January 9, 2013

Ask someone to say the first thing that comes to their mind when you mention the word hybrid, and more often than not they will say the Toyota Prius. Despite not being the first hybrid on sale in the U.S. (that honor falls to the 1999 Honda Insight, which went on sale a full two years before the Prius in the U.S.), the Prius became a sales success and symbol for the hybrid vehicle. Why? The Prius offered the right mix of unheard fuel economy, features, and practicality in one package.

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Now in its third-generation, the unassuming hybrid hatchback falls into two polar opposite camps of thought. Those who love its efficiency and reliability and those who think the Pruis is an anathema to everything held dear by car enthusiasts.

I'm an auto enthusiast, so when I recently spent a week in a 2012 Toyota Prius, I naturally approached the car with skepticism. Is it as good as the high fuel economy fans claim? Is it kryptonite to automotive enthusiasts? Read on to find out.

Encounters of the Hybrid Kind

The third-generation Prius is very much like the previous-generation model with its alien spaceship look. The third-generation model carries on the oval-esque shape with some aerodynamic tweaks including a smoother front end, squared-off corners on the rear end, and a new rear spoiler. These design changes help drop the drag coefficient from 0.26 cd to 0.25 cd.

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Other items of note include a set of LED taillights and an optional solar panel (part of a $3,820.00 Deluxe Solar Roof package) that power fans to cool down the vehicle’s interior without turning on the vehicle. I didn't get chance to try it since the average temperature here in Detroit was in the mid-thirties during my time and I rather enter a warm, not cold Prius. What would make this optional solar panel even better is the ability to charge the battery when the Prius is parked and keep the Prius warm in winter.

Inside, the alien spaceship design theme continues with a floating center stack, a uniquely-styled shift knob, and a digital gauge cluster sitting on top and in the middle of the dashboard. The placement of gauge cluster does make it somewhat harder to make a quick glance while on the move. My test Prius did come with a heads-up display which had a speedometer and a power gauge letting you know how much power you’re drawing from the hybrid system. I do want to talk to the person who decided to hide the buttons for the heated seats underneath the center stack. The only way you know where they’re hiding is when you enter or exit the Prius. Did no one at Toyota bring this up during one of the design meetings? Seating was decent for both front and rear passengers with enough head and legroom.

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Materials are what you would find in current Toyota models; hard plastics and very synthetic-feeling leather. This would be ok if the price tag of this Prius wasn’t $33,118.00. The only real positive to the interior is that build quality is very good throughout the interior.

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As I mentioned earlier, this Prius was equipped with the $3,820.00 Deluxe Solar Roof package. Besides the solar roof, the package includes a seven-inch touch screen, navigation, Toyota’s Entune System, Bluetooth, an eight-speaker JBL system, and Toyota’s safety connect which provides emergency assistance services. The touchscreen was very responsive when pressed and provided the right amount brightness whether it was day or night. The eight-speaker JBL system provided ok sound, but I found that I had to turn it up when driving the Prius on the highway as there was too much road noise. As for Entune, I didn't get chance to try it since I didn't have the application on my iPhone to utilize the system. Yes, you need the Entune application on either your iPhone or Android phone to use it.

Under the Skin, It’s a Prius Alright

Pop the hood of the Prius and right before your eyes is one part of Toyota’s Hybrid Synergy Drive; a 1.8L Atkinson cycle four-cylinder engine producing 98 horsepower (@ 5,200 rpm) and 105 lb-ft of torque (@ 4,000 rpm), and a electric motor producing 80 horsepower and 153 lb-ft of torque. Total power output is rated at 134 horsepower. The other part of Toyota’s Hybrid Synergy Drive is a Nickel-Metal Hydride battery pack sitting in the back of the Prius. Your only transmission is a CVT.

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The Prius’ powertrain gets the job done. It will take a few seconds longer to get up to the speed on the road. Not much noise from either the engine or CVT enters the cabin when you accelerate normally. If you need to get a move on because there is a larger vehicle bearing down onto you or need to merge onto the highway, the drone of the engine and CVT are very apparent. Thankfully, the hybrid system seamlessly transitions electric power.

The center stack has three buttons that can change the behavior of the hybrid system. The first is an EV mode which allows the Prius to travel a short distance on electric power alone below 25 MPH. The hybrid system will turn if you go above 25 or press further down on the pedal. With a light foot, I was able to go about a mile on electric power alone. Next is Eco mode which reduces throttle response in an emphasis to get better fuel economy numbers. This is ok if you don’t have a lot of traffic behind you or in a hurry to move along. If you don’t meet either or the criteria, leave Eco mode off. Finally there is Power mode which is the opposite of Eco mode. This mode noticeably increases throttle response to help you in certain situations like merging onto a highway.

Fuel economy is very impressive for this small car. The EPA rates the Prius at 51 City/48 Highway/50 Combined. During my week with the Prius, I averaged 47.9 MPG with mostly suburban driving and sticking my foot into it.

Ride and handling is taken care with a pair of MacPherson struts with a stabilizer bar up front and a torsion beam setup in the rear. While the setup isn’t technologically advanced like the rest of the Prius, it provides a somewhat comfortable ride. I did wish for some more damping when driving over craters that are called potholes in the Detroit area.

Steering for the Prius comes in the form of an electric power-assisted rack-and-pinion system. The steering has some heft and some feel, something the old Prius lacked. That doesn’t make it a driver’s car since the Prius’ suspension is more tuned for comfort and the standard low-rolling resistance tires don’t provide enough grip.

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The Prius is a quiet vehicle when driven below 50 MPH. Go above that and you’ll notice an abundance of road and wind noise. I’m hoping with the next-generation Prius, Toyota puts in some more sound deadening material. Visibility is very good for the front and side. Rear visibility takes a hit due to the rear hatch shape and the large spoiler sitting in the middle of the hatch. Thankfully, the Prius did come equipped with a standard rear view camera.

The Prius truly delivers on its promise of greenness with some impressive fuel economy numbers, clever technologies to make every use up every last drop of gas, unique design, and comfortable ride. However, the Prius has some faults. The road and wind noise while going above 50 MPH tops my list followed by the interior materials.

That said the Toyota Prius is the perfect vehicle for someone who commutes in town and wants to tell everyone that they’re saving the planet. For me, I’ll pass on the Prius.

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Cheers

Fuel Economy

Technology

Exterior Looks

Somewhat Comfortable Ride

Jeers

Wind and Road Noise at Speed

Engine and CVT During Hard Acceleration

Materials Used in the Cabin

Disclaimer: Toyota provided the vehicle, insurance, and one tank of gasoline.

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Album: 2012 Toyota Prius Four

18 images

0 comments

Year - 2012

Make – Toyota

Model – Prius

Trim – Four

Engine – 1.8L Atkinson cycle four-cylinder, Electric Motor

Driveline – Front-Wheel Drive, Electronically Controlled continuously Variable Transmission

Horsepower @ RPM – (Gas) 98 HP (@ 5,200 RPM), (Electric) 80 HP (N/A), (Combined) 134 HP

Torque @ RPM – (Gas) 105 lb-ft (@ 4,000 RPM), (Electric) 153 HP (N/A), (Combined) N/A

Fuel Economy: City/Highway/Combined - 51/48/50

Curb Weight – 3,042 lbs

Location of Manufacture – Tsutsumi, Japan

Base Price - $28,235.00

As Tested Price - $33,118.00 (Includes $760.00 Destination Charge)

Options

  • Deluxe Solar Roof Package: $3,820.00
  • Carpet Floor Mats & Cargo Mat: $225.00
  • Cargo Net: $49.00
  • First Aid Kit: $29.00

William Maley is a staff writer for Cheers & Gears. He can be reached at william.maley@cheersandgears.com or you can follow him on twitter at @realmudmonster.

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Nice write up Mud!

I will have to say when a person mentions hybrid the following comes to mind.

Sardines, Coffin, Cramped, Sterile.

Based on the pictures above, it would seem Toyota has done nothing to change my sentiment.

I would love you guys to get a Volt and do a review on it and then comparison to the Prius. :)

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One of my favorite cars. Nice that you weren't overly harsh. I find the Prius to be pretty spacious. Materials are budget-oriented. I like the SofTex synthetic leather seats. I don't find the Volt to drive any better than the Prius. The Volt drives like an economy car to me.

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I found the volt quite nice as far as power output went. I wish I had been able to take it farther than around in circles at the dealership - but It certainly seemed to have more spunk and was far more visually appealing than the Prius.

Also, the 80's are over - why doesnt Toyota split up their letters in badging?.. the attachment bars between each letter look cheap.

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One of my favorite cars. Nice that you weren't overly harsh. I find the Prius to be pretty spacious. Materials are budget-oriented. I like the SofTex synthetic leather seats. I don't find the Volt to drive any better than the Prius. The Volt drives like an economy car to me.

You must be in the 5'8" tall group as the Prius is with all the rest of compact cars being cramped. This is a commuter car at best and nothing more. The VOLT on the other hand can do road trips in comfort.

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Nice write up Mud!

I will have to say when a person mentions hybrid the following comes to mind.

Sardines, Coffin, Cramped, Sterile.

Based on the pictures above, it would seem Toyota has done nothing to change my sentiment.

I would love you guys to get a Volt and do a review on it and then comparison to the Prius. :)

Volt is way more sardine and coffin-like than Prius. One of the reasons why Prius sells so well -- and why vehicles like the Insight do not -- is that it functions as a perfectly useful midsized family hatchback AND gets 50 mpg combined. Ford is seeing similar sales success with the launch of C-MAX, which is also very functional.

Having driven both, I would say that Volt is smoother and more rewarding, simply because you get seamless, linear, and immediate power delivery. But Prius makes a better family car; it's arguably one of the best out there.

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      PLUG-IN HYBRID POWERTRAIN
      Although the Sonata Plug-in Hybrid is very technologically advanced, it drives similarly to the regular Sonata Hybrid, but with the additional benefit of extended all-electric range. A 9.8 kWh lithium-ion polymer battery pack, more than five times larger than the Sonata Hybrid’s battery, gives the Sonata Plug-in Hybrid an EPA-estimated all-electric range of up to 27 miles, and it can recharge in less than three hours with a level-two charger. It offers the best of both worlds by providing the power delivery of a hybrid gasoline engine, perfect for long trips, with the additional benefit of environmentally-friendly all-electric range for commuting. As a result, many consumers will be able to complete their daily commute without using a single drop of fuel, and total estimated range is an impressive 590 miles.
      The Sonata Plug-in Hybrid uses a six-speed automatic transmission with Hyundai’s Transmission-Mounted Electrical Device (TMED), a 50 kW electric motor, in place of a torque converter. The 50 kW electric motor is 32 percent more powerful than the motor used in Sonata Hybrid and allows EV operation at higher engine load and speed. A 2.0-liter Nu four-cylinder GDI engine coupled with the electric motor allows the Sonata Plug-in Hybrid to operate just like the Sonata Hybrid once the onboard battery charge is depleted. The Sonata Plug-in Nu engine produces 154 horsepower and 140 lb. ft. of torque and the total system output is 202 horsepower at 6,000 rpm.
      SAFETY FEATURES
      2018 Sonata Hybrid and Plug-in come standard with seven airbags, including a driver’s knee airbag. Electronic Stability Control, Vehicle Stability Management, Traction Control, ABS and a Tire Pressure Monitoring System with individual tire pressure display and a rearview camera are also standard. LED headlamps are optional and LED taillights and DRLs are standard.
      Hyundai engineers implemented many active safety technologies for the Sonata Hybrid and Plug-in to assist drivers and help prevent accidents. No longer reserved for luxury cars, advanced safety technologies, such as Blind Spot Detection with Rear Cross Traffic Alert is standard. Available advanced safety features include Automatic Emergency Braking, Lane Keep Assist and Automatic High Beam Assist.
      The Sonata Hybrid and Plug-in advanced Blind Spot Detection system is designed to alert drivers of an approaching vehicle in the next lane if the turn signal is activated. Drivers are first alerted of a vehicle in the blind spot by warning lights in the side mirrors. When the turn signal is activated, the Lane Change Assist system determines the closing speed of any vehicle in the adjacent lane to determine if the lane change is safe. If the system determines the vehicle in the other lane is closing too quickly, it sounds an audible alarm to warn the driver that the lane change is unsafe. The Lane Keep Assist uses a forward-facing camera to recognize lane markers. If the system detects the vehicle is headed outside the lane markers, a warning on the instrument cluster illuminates and an audible sound alerts the driver.
      Rear Cross-traffic Alert (RCTA) is another standard feature that uses advanced technologies from the Blind Spot Detection system. RCTA scans the areas to each side of the Sonata when drivers are backing out of parking spaces. If the system detects another vehicle is approaching from the side, the Sonata driver is given an audible alert. This system is another tool that helps Sonata drivers benefit from active safety technologies.
      CONVENIENCE FEATURES
      The Sonata Hybrid delivers the convenience technology one would expect in a luxury vehicle in an incredibly efficient mid-size hybrid sedan. Hyundai’s Hands-free Smart Trunk is available as well as an electronic parking brake with automatic vehicle hold, an Integrated Memory System for driver’s seat and side mirrors, segment-exclusive rear window sunshades, ventilated front seats, power front seats with adjustable driver lumbar support and Smart Cruise Control featuring stop/start capability.
      MULTIMEDIA TECHNOLOGY
      Sonata Hybrid and Plug-in offer an eight-inch color touchscreen navigation system with Apple CarPlay® and Android Auto® smartphone integration, iPod®/USB and auxiliary inputs, SiriusXM® satellite radio and Bluetooth® phone connectivity with phonebook transfer and voice-recognition. Available upgrades include a nine-speaker Infinity premium audio system with subwoofer and external Infinity® amplifier.
      The available eight-inch navigation system offers a map and music split-screen display and the ability to record SiriusXM presets one to six. For 2018, this navigation system also adds Bird’s Eye View map perspective capability. Switching to a preset station in the middle of your favorite song won’t be an annoyance any longer; simply rewind up to 22 minutes to listen to the full song or catch up on sports broadcasts. SiriusXM Travel Link® provides access to traffic information, sports scores, weather, stock prices, fuel prices and local movie times.

      AERODYNAMICS
      Sonata Hybrid and Plug-in use the same functional design cues to improve the drag coefficient to an industry-leading 0.24 Cd.

      NEXT-GENERATION BLUE LINK® CONNECTED CAR SYSTEM
      Sonata Hybrid and Plug-in Blue Link-equipped models include three years of complimentary Blue Link services, with enhanced safety, diagnostic, remote and voice navigation services. Blue Link brings connectivity directly into the car with technologies like Remote Start with Climate Control, Remote Door Lock/Unlock, Car Finder, Enhanced Roadside Assistance, and Stolen Vehicle Recovery. Blue Link features can be accessed via buttons on the rearview mirror, the MyHyundai.com web portal, the MyHyundai with Blue Link smartphone app, the Amazon® Alexa Blue Link skill, and the Blue Link Google Assistant app. Some features can also be controlled via Android Wear™ and Apple Watch™ smartwatch apps. The latest release of the Blue Link smartphone app includes:
      Widgets for easy access to remote features
      Ability to send Point-of-Interest data to vehicle navigation system (if so equipped)
      Access to Blue Link notification settings
      More details on specific Blue Link-equipped vehicles available at www.hyundaibluelink.com.

      MYHYUNDAI with BLUE LINK® APP
      Owners can manage and monitor the Sonata Plug-In Hybrid remotely via the Blue Link smartphone app. With the app, owners can access real-time data from their Sonata Plug-in and perform specific commands like starting the engine and locking doors. Plus, users can search for points of interest using Google with voice or text and have the directions when they start their Sonata Plug-in.
      For Sonata Plug-in owners who will charge at their residence, one of the most useful features of the app is the ability to manage their Plug-in charging schedule. Owners are given vehicle charging options that they can select while in the car, but users can also manage them remotely via their smartphone. Immediate charge is the simplest option, as charging begins as soon as the Sonata Plug-in Hybrid is plugged-in.
      A distinctive instrument cluster provides Sonata Plug-in Hybrid drivers with additional information about the vehicle’s functions. A charge indicator is located on top of the dashboard to make it easy to see the state of charge from outside the vehicle.
      Individuals that have different electric rates at off-peak times may want to schedule the charge to reduce cost as well as reduce peak demand on the electricity grid. Users can do that with the new app based on time and date. For example, charging could be set to start at 10 p.m. on Wednesdays and Thursdays on a weekly basis.

      Connected Car Services:
      Remote Start with Climate Control and defroster Remote Lock/Unlock Vehicle Diagnostics/status Stolen Vehicle Recovery Car Finder Connected Plug-in Hybrid Charge Management Services:
      Start or stop charging Set-up charging schedule with days of the week and time Current battery level with real-time electric and fuel range Real-time fuel range Plug status (in/out) Charge status Time left until fully charged SONATA PLUG-IN AVAILABILITY AND TAX CREDITS
      The Sonata Plug-in Hybrid will be distributed in California, Connecticut, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Jersey, New York, Oregon, Rhode Island and Vermont, but customers in any of the other states can custom order the vehicle at their local Hyundai dealer. Sonata Plug-in Hybrid buyers are currently eligible for a $4,919 federal tax credit. These tax credits reduce the amount of federal tax the purchaser is liable for, making them much more valuable+ than tax deductions. In addition, the Sonata Plug-in Hybrid is eligible for HOV-lane access in certain states.

      View full article
    • By William Maley
      Following a few months after the debut of the refreshed Sonata, Hyundai used the Chicago Auto Show to debut the 2018 Sonata Hybrid and Plug-In Hybrid.
      Like the gas counterpart, the hybrid models feature new front and rear end styling, revised wheel designs (16 and 17-inches), and LED headlights. The interior is mostly the same as the standard model aside from a different instrument cluster and additional screens pertaining to hybrid system for the infotainment system. Qi wireless charging for smartphones is available as an option. 
      Under the hoods of the Sonata Hybrid and Plug-In Hybrid is a 2.0L direct-injected four-cylinder producing 154 horsepower and 140 pound-feet of torque. This is matched with an electric motor in the six-speed automatic transmission - 35kW for the hybrid and 50 kW for the plug-in. Total output stands at 193 horsepower for the hybrid and 202 hp for the plug-in. The Hybrid features a 1.76 kWh lithium-ion polymer battery pack, while the Plug-In boasts a larger 9.8 kWh lithium-ion polymer battery pack.
      Hyundai says the Sonata Hybrid SE is estimated to return 39 City/45 Highway/42 Combined and have a total range of more than 650 miles - about the length from Detroit to Chicago and back. The Plug-In has an estimated electric-only range of 27 miles and is able to be recharged in less than 3 hours when plugged into a level 2 charger.
      The Sonata Hybrid arrives sometime in the first quarter and the Plug-In will follow in the second quarter.
      Source: Hyundai
      Press Release is on Page 2


      Hyundai Reveals 2018 Sonata Hybrid and Plug-in Hybrid Models at Chicago Auto Show
      Sonata Hybrid and Plug-in Hybrid models receive extensive exterior redesign New instrument panel center stack, steering and infotainment features
      wheel New available safety features include Automatic Emergency Braking and Lane Keep Assist Steering and suspension refined for improved ride and handling CHICAGO, Feb. 8, 2018 – Hyundai today unveiled its redesigned 2018 Sonata Hybrid and Plug-in Hybrid models at the Chicago Auto Show, the largest in the U.S.
      2018 Sonata Hybrid/Plug-in Hybrid Highlights
      New front/rear fascia design, grille, hood, front fenders, rear deck lid, headlights/taillights New 16-inch and 17-inch eco-spoke wheel designs New LED headlights with cornering Dynamic Bending Light (DBL) function New instrument panel center stack, steering wheel and available heated steering wheel New, stiffer front anti-roll bar and recalibrated steering assistance feel New, more rigid rear-trailing-arm design with retuned bushings for responsiveness Standard Blind-spot detection with Rear Cross-traffic Alert and Lane Change Assist Newly available Automatic Emergency Braking (AEB) and Lane Keep Assist New, upgraded audio/video navigation system with new Bird’s Eye View map perspective New HERE HD Traffic (Real-time Traffic Service – non-paid subscription) Qi wireless phone charging on navigation-equipped models New rear USB charging port New three-year complimentary Blue Link Connected Car, Remote and Guidance on Blue Link-equipped models (Guidance requires navigation) Repackaged standard and available content for outstanding customer value The new Sonata Hybrid and Plug-in Hybrid feature a comprehensive exterior and interior redesign, safety, suspension and new and improved infotainment and connectivity features. The 2018 Hybrid and Plug-in will be produced in Asan, Korea, with Hybrid availability in the first quarter of 2018 and Plug-in availability in the second quarter of 2018.
      “Our new 2018 Sonata Hybrid and Plug-in models add appeal in every area, from exterior to interior design, handling, steering, ride comfort, safety and infotainment,” said Mike O’Brien, vice president of Product, Corporate and Digital Planning at Hyundai Motor America. “When combined with Hyundai’s outstanding value and efficiency, the new Sonata Hybrid and Plug-in are sure to attract even more eco-focused buyers.”
      The new Sonata exterior design conveys a new appearance from every vantage point, including new wheel designs. On the inside, a new instrument panel center stack, steering wheel, available audio/video navigation system, wireless phone charging and rear USB charge port further enhance the interior experience.
      HYBRID POWERTRAIN
      The heart of the 2018 Sonata Hybrid is a 2.0-liter Nu GDI four-cylinder engine coupled with a six-speed automatic transmission that houses a powerful 38 kW electric motor and clutch where the torque converter would normally be found. Sonata Hybrid’s Transmission-Mounted Electrical Device (TMED) delivers the same responsive, engaging driving characteristics Sonata owners expect while improving fuel economy through the use of a larger electric motor.
      This innovative transmission uses an electric oil pump, which helps improve efficiency. It is possible for Sonata Hybrid to operate solely on electric power at speeds up to 75 mph by decoupling the gasoline engine from the rest of the drivetrain.
      Sonata Hybrid’s Nu engine produces 154 horsepower and 140 lb. ft. of torque. The electric motor produces 38 kW (51 horsepower) and 151 lb. ft. of torque. Hybrid system net power is 193 horsepower at 6,000 rpm. Sonata Hybrid SE has preliminary internal estimates of 39 mpg in the city, 45 mpg on the highway and 42 mpg combined. The Sonata Hybrid’s total range is estimated at more than 650 miles under typical driving conditions.
      The lithium-ion polymer battery pack capacity is 1.76 kWh and the battery pack fits under the trunk floor, which allows for a flat trunk floor as well as available 60/40 split-folding rear seats. Sonata Hybrid offers 13.3 cu. ft. of cargo volume, thanks to the compact battery pack dimensions and efficient design. Locating the battery pack beneath the trunk floor helps improve cargo volume and total interior volume with 106.1 cu. ft., the most in its segment.
      PLUG-IN HYBRID POWERTRAIN
      Although the Sonata Plug-in Hybrid is very technologically advanced, it drives similarly to the regular Sonata Hybrid, but with the additional benefit of extended all-electric range. A 9.8 kWh lithium-ion polymer battery pack, more than five times larger than the Sonata Hybrid’s battery, gives the Sonata Plug-in Hybrid an EPA-estimated all-electric range of up to 27 miles, and it can recharge in less than three hours with a level-two charger. It offers the best of both worlds by providing the power delivery of a hybrid gasoline engine, perfect for long trips, with the additional benefit of environmentally-friendly all-electric range for commuting. As a result, many consumers will be able to complete their daily commute without using a single drop of fuel, and total estimated range is an impressive 590 miles.
      The Sonata Plug-in Hybrid uses a six-speed automatic transmission with Hyundai’s Transmission-Mounted Electrical Device (TMED), a 50 kW electric motor, in place of a torque converter. The 50 kW electric motor is 32 percent more powerful than the motor used in Sonata Hybrid and allows EV operation at higher engine load and speed. A 2.0-liter Nu four-cylinder GDI engine coupled with the electric motor allows the Sonata Plug-in Hybrid to operate just like the Sonata Hybrid once the onboard battery charge is depleted. The Sonata Plug-in Nu engine produces 154 horsepower and 140 lb. ft. of torque and the total system output is 202 horsepower at 6,000 rpm.
      SAFETY FEATURES
      2018 Sonata Hybrid and Plug-in come standard with seven airbags, including a driver’s knee airbag. Electronic Stability Control, Vehicle Stability Management, Traction Control, ABS and a Tire Pressure Monitoring System with individual tire pressure display and a rearview camera are also standard. LED headlamps are optional and LED taillights and DRLs are standard.
      Hyundai engineers implemented many active safety technologies for the Sonata Hybrid and Plug-in to assist drivers and help prevent accidents. No longer reserved for luxury cars, advanced safety technologies, such as Blind Spot Detection with Rear Cross Traffic Alert is standard. Available advanced safety features include Automatic Emergency Braking, Lane Keep Assist and Automatic High Beam Assist.
      The Sonata Hybrid and Plug-in advanced Blind Spot Detection system is designed to alert drivers of an approaching vehicle in the next lane if the turn signal is activated. Drivers are first alerted of a vehicle in the blind spot by warning lights in the side mirrors. When the turn signal is activated, the Lane Change Assist system determines the closing speed of any vehicle in the adjacent lane to determine if the lane change is safe. If the system determines the vehicle in the other lane is closing too quickly, it sounds an audible alarm to warn the driver that the lane change is unsafe. The Lane Keep Assist uses a forward-facing camera to recognize lane markers. If the system detects the vehicle is headed outside the lane markers, a warning on the instrument cluster illuminates and an audible sound alerts the driver.
      Rear Cross-traffic Alert (RCTA) is another standard feature that uses advanced technologies from the Blind Spot Detection system. RCTA scans the areas to each side of the Sonata when drivers are backing out of parking spaces. If the system detects another vehicle is approaching from the side, the Sonata driver is given an audible alert. This system is another tool that helps Sonata drivers benefit from active safety technologies.
      CONVENIENCE FEATURES
      The Sonata Hybrid delivers the convenience technology one would expect in a luxury vehicle in an incredibly efficient mid-size hybrid sedan. Hyundai’s Hands-free Smart Trunk is available as well as an electronic parking brake with automatic vehicle hold, an Integrated Memory System for driver’s seat and side mirrors, segment-exclusive rear window sunshades, ventilated front seats, power front seats with adjustable driver lumbar support and Smart Cruise Control featuring stop/start capability.
      MULTIMEDIA TECHNOLOGY
      Sonata Hybrid and Plug-in offer an eight-inch color touchscreen navigation system with Apple CarPlay® and Android Auto® smartphone integration, iPod®/USB and auxiliary inputs, SiriusXM® satellite radio and Bluetooth® phone connectivity with phonebook transfer and voice-recognition. Available upgrades include a nine-speaker Infinity premium audio system with subwoofer and external Infinity® amplifier.
      The available eight-inch navigation system offers a map and music split-screen display and the ability to record SiriusXM presets one to six. For 2018, this navigation system also adds Bird’s Eye View map perspective capability. Switching to a preset station in the middle of your favorite song won’t be an annoyance any longer; simply rewind up to 22 minutes to listen to the full song or catch up on sports broadcasts. SiriusXM Travel Link® provides access to traffic information, sports scores, weather, stock prices, fuel prices and local movie times.

      AERODYNAMICS
      Sonata Hybrid and Plug-in use the same functional design cues to improve the drag coefficient to an industry-leading 0.24 Cd.

      NEXT-GENERATION BLUE LINK® CONNECTED CAR SYSTEM
      Sonata Hybrid and Plug-in Blue Link-equipped models include three years of complimentary Blue Link services, with enhanced safety, diagnostic, remote and voice navigation services. Blue Link brings connectivity directly into the car with technologies like Remote Start with Climate Control, Remote Door Lock/Unlock, Car Finder, Enhanced Roadside Assistance, and Stolen Vehicle Recovery. Blue Link features can be accessed via buttons on the rearview mirror, the MyHyundai.com web portal, the MyHyundai with Blue Link smartphone app, the Amazon® Alexa Blue Link skill, and the Blue Link Google Assistant app. Some features can also be controlled via Android Wear™ and Apple Watch™ smartwatch apps. The latest release of the Blue Link smartphone app includes:
      Widgets for easy access to remote features
      Ability to send Point-of-Interest data to vehicle navigation system (if so equipped)
      Access to Blue Link notification settings
      More details on specific Blue Link-equipped vehicles available at www.hyundaibluelink.com.

      MYHYUNDAI with BLUE LINK® APP
      Owners can manage and monitor the Sonata Plug-In Hybrid remotely via the Blue Link smartphone app. With the app, owners can access real-time data from their Sonata Plug-in and perform specific commands like starting the engine and locking doors. Plus, users can search for points of interest using Google with voice or text and have the directions when they start their Sonata Plug-in.
      For Sonata Plug-in owners who will charge at their residence, one of the most useful features of the app is the ability to manage their Plug-in charging schedule. Owners are given vehicle charging options that they can select while in the car, but users can also manage them remotely via their smartphone. Immediate charge is the simplest option, as charging begins as soon as the Sonata Plug-in Hybrid is plugged-in.
      A distinctive instrument cluster provides Sonata Plug-in Hybrid drivers with additional information about the vehicle’s functions. A charge indicator is located on top of the dashboard to make it easy to see the state of charge from outside the vehicle.
      Individuals that have different electric rates at off-peak times may want to schedule the charge to reduce cost as well as reduce peak demand on the electricity grid. Users can do that with the new app based on time and date. For example, charging could be set to start at 10 p.m. on Wednesdays and Thursdays on a weekly basis.

      Connected Car Services:
      Remote Start with Climate Control and defroster Remote Lock/Unlock Vehicle Diagnostics/status Stolen Vehicle Recovery Car Finder Connected Plug-in Hybrid Charge Management Services:
      Start or stop charging Set-up charging schedule with days of the week and time Current battery level with real-time electric and fuel range Real-time fuel range Plug status (in/out) Charge status Time left until fully charged SONATA PLUG-IN AVAILABILITY AND TAX CREDITS
      The Sonata Plug-in Hybrid will be distributed in California, Connecticut, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Jersey, New York, Oregon, Rhode Island and Vermont, but customers in any of the other states can custom order the vehicle at their local Hyundai dealer. Sonata Plug-in Hybrid buyers are currently eligible for a $4,919 federal tax credit. These tax credits reduce the amount of federal tax the purchaser is liable for, making them much more valuable+ than tax deductions. In addition, the Sonata Plug-in Hybrid is eligible for HOV-lane access in certain states.
    • By William Maley
      It seems we were right on the money with our guess concerning Toyota's Chicago Auto Show debuts. Today, the Japanese automaker introduced updated versions of the TRD Pro family, comprised of the 4Runner, Tacoma, and Tundra.
      The big story with the update deals with the suspension. All TRD Pro models now come with aluminum-bodied 2.5-inch TRD Fox Internal Bypass shocks. The shocks promise improved damping for on- and off-road situations, and each models gets their own specific tuning for the shocks. All models also get new front springs to improve ground clearance and provide a more comfortable ride. Each TRD Pro model gets their own setup in terms of the rear suspension,
      4Runner: TRD Coil Springs Tacoma: Progressive-Rate Off-Road Leaf Springs Tundra: Leaf Springs found on TRD Off-Road Trim Toyota has also made various changes in terms of exterior and features for each TRD Pro model.
      4Runner: 17-inch matte-black TRD alloy wheels, 1/4-inch front skid plate, and new roof rack Tacoma: 1-inch wider track for the front and rear, 16-inch TRD alloy wheels finished in black, thicker front skid plate, and optional TRD Desert Air Intake (also called a snorkel) Tundra: New LED head and foglights, grille, hood scoop, and 18-inch BBS forged-aluminum, five-spoke satin black wheels Pricing will be announced closer to the launch of the TRD Pro models, which is expected to happen this fall.
      Source: Toyota
      Press Release is on Page 2


      Game Changer: 2019 Toyota TRD Pros Typify Ultimate Off-Road Performance
      Next-Generation 4Runner and Tundra TRD Pro Feature All-New Fox shocks; Tacoma TRD Pro to Feature New TRD Desert Air Intake
      Fox 2.5-inch Internal Bypass Shocks Featured on Entire TRD Pro Lineup Tacoma TRD Pro Offers Available TRD Desert Air Intake New TRD Roof Rack on 4Runner TRD Pro Tundra TRD Pro Fitted with Rigid Fog Lights and BBS Wheels Three Colors Offered: Super White, Midnight Black Metallic, and Voodoo Blue (TRD Pro-Exclusive) CHICAGO (Feb. 8, 2018) – The pulse-pounding, heart-racing TRD Pro Series from Toyota returns for its next generation of off-road dominance. For 2019, Tundra, 4Runner and Tacoma will all feature Fox shocks and a host of impressive off-road equipment tuned and designed by the engineers at Toyota Racing Development (TRD).
       
      First unveiled in 2014, the TRD Pro lineup was born from Toyota’s rich racing and off-road heritage. All TRD Pro vehicles offer unique styling, as well as highly capable, tried and tested performance off-road equipment, specifically tailored for when the pavement runs out.
       
      The 2019 TRD Pro series will be available in fall of 2018, and each vehicle will be offered in three colors that include Super White, Midnight Black Metallic or Voodoo Blue (a TRD Pro exclusive color).
       
      Wanna go places? TRD Pro is the ultimate tool to get you there and back.
       
      Only as Good as Your Suspension
       
      As any seasoned adventurer knows, a true off-road vehicle is only as good as its suspension. For 2019, the entire TRD Pro family rides on 2.5-inch TRD Pro-exclusive Fox Internal Bypass shocks. Tuned specifically for each vehicle by the engineers at TRD, the aluminum-bodied Fox shocks offer impressive performance and supreme damping for a wide variety of driving situations. High-speed desert running, slow-speed rock crawling, or simply driving to and from work – drivers and passengers will be as comfortable as they are confident.
       
      Whereas off-road race vehicles traditionally have external bypass tubes on their shock bodies to fine-tune damping pressure, each high-tech Fox shock compactly incorporates bypass zones inside of the shock. These multiple bypass zones offer a cushioned, plush ride during typical operation but get progressively stiffer through the shock stroke to provide excellent bottoming resistance.
       
      The front shocks are paired with specially-tuned TRD springs designed for excellent ride comfort and to also produce additional lift, giving each TRD Pro an aggressive, heightened stance for improved trail-conquering capability. A combination of high-temperature shock fluid and nitrogen gas pressure are employed inside each Fox shock to improve bump compliance and to help maximize seal life.
       
      Every TRD Pro model features rear 2.5-inch Fox shocks that utilize a piggyback reservoir to house additional oil volume, which assists in maintaining peak damping performance during extreme use. Tundra relies on the beefy rear leaf springs also equipped on the TRD Off-Road grade, 4Runner utilizes the TRD Off-Road grade rear coil springs, while Tacoma features progressive-rate off-road leaf springs out back to allow more compression suspension travel to aid performance over rough terrain. TRD dust boots are utilized front and rear to offer added protection to help keep dust and dirt out, and 4Runner utilizes unique roost shields to help protect the inverted rear shock.
       
      Tacoma TRD Pro: Civilized Commuter or Trail-Tackling Specialist
       
      Based on the very trail-capable TRD Off-Road grade, Tacoma TRD Pro ups the ante with enhanced 2.5-inch Fox front shocks that use large 46mm pistons and feature 8 bypass zones (5 compression, 3 rebound). They are paired with TRD-tuned springs that provide an additional 1 inch of front lift. A larger front sway bar is employed to retain crisp steering and refined road manners. The Tacoma also features 2.5-inch rear shocks that use 11 bypass zones (7 compression, 4 rebound) and are paired with 2-inch piggyback reservoirs.
       
      A host of additional TRD equipment finds its way onto the new Tacoma TRD Pro, including an updated front skid plate with TRD red lettering, while the cat-back TRD exhaust is accented with a new Black Chrome tip.
       
      Inside, passengers are treated to standard Entune Premium JBL Audio with subwoofer amplifier and Integrated Navigation and App Suite. Tacoma is equipped with TRD Pro-branded floor mats and leather-trimmed seats with TRD Pro emblems on the front headrests. Distinguishing the exterior are unique TRD Pro badges, projector-beam headlights with black sport bezels and LED Daytime Running Lights (DRL), Rigid Industries LED fog lights, taillights with black sport bezels, and a black TOYOTA grille.
       
      Thanks to the offset of the 16-inch TRD Pro black alloy wheels, Tacoma has a 1-inch wider track both front and rear for added stability. Trail and pavement traction comes in the form of P265/70R16 Goodyear Wrangler Kevlar All-Terrain tires.
       
      TRD Desert Air Intake: Clearing Tacoma’s Sinuses, No Prescription Needed
       
      The most eye-catching of the Tacoma upgrades, no doubt, is the available all-new TRD Desert Air Intake. Designed to sustain consistent off-road performance no matter how silty or dirty the terrain gets, the TRD Desert Air Intake takes the 278-horsepower 3.5L V6 engine’s air intake away from dust that hovers inside the wheel well (where traditional air intakes are located) during off-road operation. This allows for air ingestion to occur in a cleaner space above the windshield, therefore, helping to benefit filter longevity and, ultimately, engine health.
       
      Tundra TRD Pro: Boastful New Additions
       
      Tundra TRD Pro also gets its fair share of new features for 2019. Of course, Tundra is equipped with new Fox 2.5-inch front shocks that boast beefy 46 mm pistons. The TRD-tuned springs provide an additional 2 inches of front lift, and front wheel travel is increased more than 1.5 inches. The front shocks feature 11 bypass zones (7 compression, 4 bypass) to fine-tune damping performance for off-road romps while retaining composed on-road manners. The Tundra also employs 2.5-inch rear Fox shocks that feature an impressive 12 bypass zones (8 compression, 4 bypass). The rear shocks feature 2.5-inch piggyback reservoirs, and wheel travel is increased by more than 2 inches in the rear.  
       
      Taking a cue from little brother, big bro Tundra gets new Rigid Industries LED fog lights for improved visibility on and off the highway, in a variety of weather conditions. Tundra also features LED headlights with LED accent lights and a unique black treatment. A new TOYOTA grille plus new hood scoop add style to Tundra’s brawny front end. Out back, TRD Pro stamping is found on the bed’s rear quarter panels.
       
      New 18-inch BBS forged-aluminum, five-spoke satin black wheels are featured on Tundra, which reduce un-sprung mass 3.35 lbs. per wheel (13.4 lbs. total) to improve cornering response and overall ride quality. The new wheels are wrapped in Michelin P275/65R18 all-terrain tires to provide a sure footing in dirt and on pavement.
       
      Inside, TRD Pro logos garnish the driver and front passenger leather-trimmed seats, while red stitching accents the dash, seats and armrests. TRD Pro floor mats, shift knob and a center-console emblem help complete the distinctive look. Providing added growl on the highway and the trail is a dual TRD Pro exhaust, which is fitted with new Black Chrome exhaust tips. A TRD Pro 1/4-inch skid plate sporting signature red Toyota lettering is found underneath the front end. Tundra TRD Pro will offer an available moonroof.
       
      4Runner TRD Pro: The Legend Grows
       
      4Runner needs no introduction. The iconic SUV is one of the most legendary off-road vehicles in Toyota’s history. For 2019, TRD Pro takes 4Runner’s world-renowned trail capability to the next level.
       
      4Runner’s Fox shocks not only enhance its off-road performance but, paired with the TRD-tuned front springs, the package lifts its front 1 inch compared to other grades, while also providing nearly 1 inch of additional wheel travel. The 2.5-inch front shocks employ 46 mm pistons and include 7 bypass zones (4 compression, 3 rebound). In the rear, the 2.5-inch Fox shocks feature 11 bypass zones (7 compression, 4 rebound) to fine-tune the low- and high-speed compression, and 2-inch piggyback reservoirs house additional oil to retain damping performance when it’s needed most. A unique TRD roost shield offers additional protection for the inverted shock design in the rear.
       
      4Runner adds a new roof rack for stashing additional gear outside of the cabin (say, dirty gear or laundry after a weekend camping trip).The 1/4-inch-thick front skid plate also sports new red TRD lettering. 4Runner features 17-inch matte-black TRD alloy wheels with an offset change to provide it with nearly a 1-inch wider track front and rear for added stability. Nitto Terra Grappler P265/70R17 A/T tires provide all-terrain performance for whatever the situation demands.
       
      Like Tacoma, 4Runner TRD Pro passengers can jam to tunes from a new-for-2019 standard Entune Premium JBL Audio with Integrated Navigation and App Suite. Other interior appointments include TRD Pro floor mats, TRD shift knob, and red-stitched Softex seats with red TRD logos on the front headrests. Additional TRD Pro exterior features include LED fog lights, blacked-out TOYOTA grille, and projector-beam headlights with smoked trim.
       
      Even on the Most Capable, Safety is Paramount
       
      Even though capability and toughness are at the core of the TRD Pro Series, safety is still the utmost priority. All three TRD Pro models feature the Star Safety System, which includes Vehicle Stability Control (VSC), Traction Control (TRAC), Anti-lock Brake System (ABS), Electronic Brake-force Distribution (EBD), Brake Assist (BA) and Smart Stop Technology (SST).
       
      Tundra and Tacoma come standard with Toyota Safety Sense P (TSS-P), which features Pre-Collision System with Pedestrian Detection (PCS w/PD), Lane Departure Alert (LDA) with Sway Warning System (SWS), Automatic High Beams (AHB) and high-speed Dynamic Radar Cruise Control (DRCC).

      View full article
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