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There's nothing mysterious about the midsize-car formula: four doors, room for five passengers, big trunk, decent power, good fuel economy, and up-to-date technology. Most mainstream family sedans start at around $24,000 and try to match each other feature for feature, making this one of the most competitive car segments you'll find. There are a number of good sedans out there, but these are our top picks.
The Prius is all about fuel economy and the base L Eco's 56 mpg combined EPA estimate is difficult to ignore. Unfortunately, the L is a little light on features. As such, we recommend getting the LE. It comes with some useful upgrades, such as blind-spot monitoring, a rear wiper and a traditional spare tire, while keeping the price reasonable. The LE is also available with the Prius' new all-wheel-drive system.
But the Prius AWD-e isn't quite like other all-wheel-drive vehicles. Instead of drawing from the engine to power the rear wheels, this new Prius uses a separate electric motor to enhance initial traction from 0 to 6 mph. If wheel slippage is detected, the motor will re-engage at speeds up to 43 mph. That means the rear wheels are only powered when needed, minimizing the detrimental effects that traditional all-wheel-drive systems have on fuel economy. Toyota estimates this new Prius AWD-e will achieve 50 mpg combined (52 city/48 highway), which is still very impressive. By comparison, the standard Prius gets an EPA-estimated 52 mpg combined, while the Prius L Eco earns 56 mpg combined.
High gasoline prices in the US, approaching US$4 a gallon by March 2012, contributed to record monthly sales of the Prius family vehicles. A total of 28,711 units were sold in the United States during March 2012, becoming the one-month record for Prius sales ever. The third-generation Prius liftback accounted for 18,008 units (62.7%); the Prius v accounted for 4,937 units (17.2%); the Prius c, for 4,875 units (17.0%); and the Prius Plug-in Hybrid, for 891 units (3.1%). Another record was set during the first-quarter of 2012, with Prius family sales of 60,859 units, it became the best selling quarter ever. Sales of Toyota Prius family vehicles in California represented 26% of all Prius purchases in the US during 2012. With 60,688 units sold during this year, the Prius became the best selling vehicle in California, ahead of the previous leader, the Honda Civic (57,124 units) and the third ranked, the Toyota Camry (50,250 units). The Prius nameplate was again in 2013 the best selling vehicle in California with 69,728 units sold in the state, ahead of the Honda Civic (66,982) and the Honda Accord (63,194).
Cumulative Prius sales in Europe reach 100,000 in 2008 and 200,000 units by mid-2010, after 10 years on that market. The UK is one of the leading European markets for Prius, accounting more than 20 percent of all Priuses sold in Europe. Toyota Prius became Japan's best selling vehicle in 2009 for the first time since its debut in 1997 as its sales almost tripled to 208,876 in 2009. In that year it overtook the Honda Fit, which was Japan's best-selling car in 2008 excluding Kei cars.
Toyota debuted the new Prius (2010 US model year) at the January 2009 North American International Auto Show, and sales began in Japan on May 18, 2009. Toyota cut the price of the Prius from ¥2.331 million to ¥2.05 million to better compete with the Honda Insight, leading some to wonder whether increased sales of the Prius might come at the expense of sales of other vehicles with higher margins. Competition from lower priced hybrids, such as the Honda Insight, also made it difficult for Toyota to capitalize on the Prius's success. As of June 2013, Toyota has sold about 1,688,000 third-generation Priuses worldwide.
Simply put, the Prius AWD-e is more sure-footed and capable on snow — precisely what the added mechanicals intended to deliver. We'd also like to point out that these vehicles were equipped with the standard low-rolling-resistance tires that are focused on fuel efficiency rather than traction. Switching to all-season or snow tires would likely yield even better results.
In 1995, Toyota debuted a hybrid concept car at the Tokyo Motor Show, with testing following a year later. The first Prius, model NHW10, went on sale on 10 December 1997. The first generation Prius (NHW10) was available only in Japan, though it has been imported privately to at least the United States, United Kingdom, Australia,[not in citation given][dubious – discuss] and New Zealand.
The Prius will be available with all-wheel drive — Toyota calls it AWD-e — in its midgrade trim levels. The hybrid system under the hood returns unchanged, but Toyota added another electric motor between the rear wheels. It provides additional traction upon initial acceleration and, when needed, up to 43 mph. In order to better cope with colder climates, Toyota also replaced the usual lithium-ion battery pack with a nickel-metal hydride unit on the AWD-e.
On the inside, Toyota has replaced the white plastic interior trim with black glossy and semi-glossy finishes. The Prius lineup has gone through a name change, too, dropping the numbered trims with a more traditional Toyota name lineup of L Eco, LE, XLE and Limited. Feature content remains largely unchanged, which unfortunately also means Apple CarPlay is not yet available. On the plus side, the Toyota Safety Sense P suite of advanced safety features is standard on all Prius trims.
The Prius Plug-in Hybrid (ZVW35) is based on the conventional third generation (ZVW30) with a 4.4-kWh lithium-ion battery that allows an all-electric range of 23 km (14.3 mi). A global demonstration program involving 600 pre-production test cars began in late 2009 and took place in Japan, Europe, Canada, China, Australia, New Zealand and the United States.
Although midsize sedans make up one of the largest car segments in production, most models follow a familiar recipe of features and offerings. In general, you can expect to find a base four-cylinder engine with an optional performance upgrade. At the luxury level, virtually every entrant offers all-wheel drive to entice buyers in harsher climates. A roomy cabin and a rear seat that's comfortable for large adults are common characteristics. Most midsize sedans will offer sizable trunks with 16 to 18 cubic feet of cargo space, but some trunks are on the smaller side, especially those in hybrid models.
The hatchback body style of the Prius means there's plenty of room for cargo behind the back seat, although it's not the most spacious vehicle in this competitive set. Its dash-mounted shifter frees up room for storage cubbies in the front seat; rear cubby storage is limited to two unusually small door pockets and the small cupholders found in the center-seat pull-down armrest.
Unlike its predecessor, the Prime runs entirely on electricity in charge-depleting mode (EV mode). Toyota targeted the fuel economy in hybrid mode to be equal or better than regular fourth generation Prius liftback. The Prius Prime has an EPA-rated combined fuel economy in hybrid mode of 54 mpg‑US (4.4 L/100 km; 65 mpg‑imp), 55 mpg‑US (4.3 L/100 km; 66 mpg‑imp) in city driving, and 53 mpg‑US (4.4 L/100 km; 64 mpg‑imp) in highway. Only the Prius Eco has a higher EPA-rated fuel economy rating in hybrid mode. The 2017 model year Prime has a different exterior design than the fourth generation Prius. The interior design is also different. The Prime has a four-seat cabin layout, as Toyota decided to improve the car's efficiency to achieve its design goals.
Despite the newly available all-wheel-drive system, we'd stick with the standard front-drive Prius. Still, those who live where there are more winter months than summer months may appreciate the improved all-weather capability. We prefer the eco-friendliest Prius, which is the entry-level L Eco. It lacks the fanciest options and creature comforts found on more expensive versions, but it has higher fuel-economy estimates from the EPA and solid standard features. These include two USB ports for the back seat, push-button start, passive entry on the driver's door, and numerous driver assists such as adaptive cruise control, automated emergency braking, and automatic high-beam headlights.
The AWD-e system adds a stand-alone electric motor, packaged within the rear multi-link suspension such that it does not intrude on the car's cabin or luggage compartment. The only connection between this compact, 7-hp motor and the standard 121-hp front-drive powertrain is electronic; there is no physical driveshaft. Toyota claims the system adds roughly 150 pounds, bringing curb weight to about 3300 pounds and dropping fuel economy a bit, to 50 mpg combined versus the front-drive variant's 52 to 56 mpg (depending on trim level). The only other significant change to the Prius that comes with adding all-wheel drive is in battery chemistry: All-wheel-drive cars use nickel-metal-hydride battery packs rather than lithium-ion, as NiMH performs better in cold weather.
In constructing the Prius, Toyota used a new range of plant-derived ecological bioplastics, made out of cellulose derived from wood or grass instead of petroleum. The two principal crops used are kenaf and ramie. Kenaf is a member of the hibiscus family, a relative to cotton and okra; ramie, commonly known as China grass, is a member of the nettle family and one of the strongest natural fibres, with a density and absorbency comparable to flax. Toyota says this is a particularly timely breakthrough for plant-based eco-plastics because 2009 is the United Nations' International Year of Natural Fibres, which spotlights kenaf and ramie among others.
Once the premier name in American sedans, Cadillac is a latecomer to the modern luxury-sedan world. It hasn't taken long for the fabled brand to reassert itself, though. The midsize CTS stands apart thanks to its distinctive design, sporty performance and advanced technology features. The standard four- and six-cylinder engine options don't overwhelm with power, but the optional turbo V6 is the equal of almost any rival. On a winding road, the CTS is easily one of the most engaging cars in its class, even alongside the 5 Series. The downside is a stiff ride quality that may give buyers pause, as well as an iffy control layout that incorporates Cadillac's sometimes-frustrating CUE infotainment system. Perhaps it's no surprise to learn that this year's CTS may be the last. See the CTS in our Sedan rankings
There are so many options within the 5 series, but experts suggest getting the 540i if you’re looking for a powerful sedan, though it is more expensive than the 530i ($53,400). Like other BMWs, the 540i comes with a dizzying array of options, including all-wheel drive and a hybrid version, not to mention numerous tiers and packages you can add — consumers who prefer (and can afford) customization may well swerve toward the BMW.
Styling is a matter of personal taste, but we think the Mazda 6 is one of the sharpest-looking sedans in the class. Its swooping lines and creases may not suit everyone's taste, but an anonymous box the Mazda 6 is not. It also backs up its bold looks with outstanding performance. We're not talking about pure speed — although the available turbocharged engine has ample shove — but rather a complete package of taut handling, prompt transmission response, and precise steering that adds gusto to virtually any driving scenario. A cool, modern interior and a dial-controlled infotainment system cap off the Mazda 6's all-around excellence. The lack of all-wheel drive or a hybrid version will keep the Mazda 6 out of contention for some buyers, and its relatively small trunk won't endear it to more practical sedan shoppers. But for drivers seeking a racier edge to the family sedan experience, the Mazda 6 is among the best. See the 6 in our Sedan rankings
Toyota unveiled the Prius c concept at the January 2011 North American International Auto Show. The Prius c has a lower list price and is smaller than the previous Prius hatchback. The production version was unveiled at the 2011 Tokyo Motor Show as the Toyota Aqua, and was launched in Japan in December 2011. The Prius c was released in the US and Canada in March 2012, and in April 2012 in Australia and New Zealand. The Prius c is not available in Europe, where instead, Toyota is selling the Toyota Yaris Hybrid since June 2012. The Prius c and the Yaris Hybrid share the same powertrain. The Aqua ranked as the second best selling car in Japan in 2012 after the Prius brand, as Toyota reports together sales of the conventional Prius and the Prius α. When sales of these two Prius models are broken down, the Toyota Aqua ranked as the top selling model in Japan, including kei cars, with the Aqua leading monthly sales since February through December 2012. Thereafter, the Aqua has been the top selling new car in Japan for three years running, from 2013 to 2015, and it is considered the most successful nameplate launch in Japan in the last 20 years.
If you want the space and versatility of a family sedan along with extra power and refinement, a luxury midsize sedan makes for a refreshing alternative to the pullulating herd of luxury SUVs. These premium sedans provide more elegant cabin materials, more advanced technology, more engaging performance and, yes, more precious price tags. You won't find many hybrid options; in this group, only BMW and Lexus offer upscale hybrid motoring. But you will find some of the most satisfying driving experiences that today's market has to offer.
The Prius offers Toyota's in-house Entune software for smartphone integration. Setup requires a lengthy app download and account creation process. Entune's app support is meager and less intuitive than CarPlay or Android Auto (neither of which is offered). The Bluetooth menu offers better control and search functionality than most other Bluetooth systems.
There are two principal battery packs, the High Voltage (HV) battery, also known as the traction battery, and a 12 volt battery known as the Low Voltage (LV) battery. The traction battery of the first generation Prius update (2000 onwards) was a sealed 38-module nickel metal hydride (NiMH) battery pack providing 273.6 volt, 6.5 Ah capacity and weighing 53.3 kg (118 lb) and is supplied by Japan's Panasonic EV Energy Co. They are normally charged between 40–60% of maximum capacity to prolong battery life as well as allow headroom for regenerative braking. Each battery pack uses 10–15 kg (22–33 lb) of lanthanum, and each Prius electric motor contains 1 kg (2 lb) of neodymium; production of the car is described as "the biggest user of rare earths of any object in the world." The LV battery is essential to starting the car and providing initial power to the computer.
^ Jump up to: a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o "Worldwide Sales of Toyota Hybrids Surpass 10 Million Units" (Press release). Toyota City, Japan: Toyota. 14 January 2017. Retrieved 15 January 2017. This latest milestone of 10 million units was achieved just nine months after total sales reached 9 million units at the end of April 2016. The Prius family accounts for 61% of Toyota's total global cumulative hybrid car sales: 6.115 million units, consisting of Prius liftback: 3.9846 million; Aqua, Prius c: 1.3801 million; Prius α, Prius v, Prius +: 614,700; and Prius PHV: 79,300.
The HVAC system uses an AC induction motor to drive a sealed-system scroll compressor, a design principle not usually used in automotive applications. Using a scroll compressor increases the efficiency of the system, while driving it with an AC induction motor makes the system more flexible, so the AC can run while the engine is off. Because the oil used with the refrigerant gas also flows in the area of the high-voltage motor-windings, the fluid must be electrically insulating to avoid transmitting electric current to exposed metal parts of the system. Therefore, Toyota specifies a polyolester (POE) oil (designated ND11) is required for repairs. The system cannot be serviced with equipment normally employed for regular cars, which typically use polyalkylene glycol (PAG) oil, as the equipment would contaminate the ND11 oil with PAG oil. According to SAE J2843 the oil provided from maintenance equipment must contain less than 0.1% PAG when filling. One percent PAG oil may result in an electrical resistance drop by a factor of about 10.
Our state-of-the-art Service Department here at Toyota Universe will keep your new Toyota vehicle or used car in excellent condition. The diagnostic equipment operated by our expert mechanics will detect any issues that may be occurring in your vehicle so that our Toyota trained service technicians can fix the problem right the first time. We offer all the auto services, maintenance, and parts you need to keep your vehicle running like new, even if all you need is an oil change. Visit our Service Department page to schedule a service appointment, or our Parts Department page to order parts for your new Toyota, or for more information about any of the services offered by Toyota Universe.