First of all, a HUGE thank you to Toyota of Long Beach20 minutes ago
The Wall Street Journal reported in February 2007 on concerns that quiet cars like the Prius may pose a safety risk to those who rely on engine noise to sense the presence or location of moving vehicles. Blind pedestrians are a primary concern, and the National Federation of the Blind advocates audio emitters on hybrid vehicles, but it has been argued that increased risks may also affect sighted pedestrians or bicyclists who are accustomed to aural cues from vehicles. However, silent vehicles are already relatively common, and there is also a lack of aural cues from vehicles that have a conventional internal combustion engine where engine noise has been reduced by noise-absorbing materials in the engine bay and noise-canceling muffler systems. In July 2007, a spokesman for Toyota said the company is aware of the issue and is studying options.
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.
The Prius first went on sale in Japan and other countries in 1997, and was available at all four Toyota Japan dealership chains, making it the first mass-produced hybrid vehicle. It was subsequently introduced worldwide in 2000. The Prius is sold in over 90 markets, with Japan and the United States being its largest markets. Global cumulative Prius liftback sales reached the milestone 1 million vehicle mark in May 2008, 2 million in September 2010, and passed the 3 million mark in June 2013. Cumulative sales of one million were achieved in the U.S. by early April 2011, and Japan reached the 1 million mark in August 2011. As of January 2017, the Prius liftback is the world's top selling hybrid car with almost 4 million units sold.
Rising oil prices caused by the Arab Spring led to increased sales of the Prius in the first quarter of 2011, but the 2011 Tōhoku earthquake and tsunami led to a production stoppage. Production restarted several days later, but output was hindered due to shortages from parts suppliers. Nevertheless, during the 2011 Japanese fiscal year (1 April 2011 through 31 March 2012), the Prius family sold 310,484 units, including sales of the Prius α, launched in May 2011, and the Toyota Aqua, launched in December, allowing the Prius brand to become the best-selling vehicle in Japan for the third-consecutive year.
Toyota sold 223,905 Priuses among the various HEV family members in the US in 2012, representing together a market share of 51.5% of all hybrid sold in the country that year. In addition, a total of 12,750 Prius PHVs were sold in 2012, allowing the plug-in hybrid to rank as the second top selling plug-in electric car in the US after the Chevrolet Volt, and surpassing the Nissan Leaf. The Toyota Prius liftback, with 147,503 units sold, was the best selling hybrid in 2012, the Prius v ranked third with 40,669 units, and the Prius c was fourth with 35,733 units. Toyota USA estimated that sales of its hybrids models in 2012 would represent 14% of total Toyota sales in the country. Since their inception in 1999, a total of 1.5 million Prius family members have been sold in the US by mid October 2013, representing a 50.1% market share of total hybrid sales in the country. Of these, 1,356,318 are conventional Prius liftbacks sold through September 2013.
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Debuting in the U.S. as a compact sedan, the Prius had a 1.5-liter four-cylinder engine making 70 hp, paired with a 44-hp electric motor with nickel metal hydride batteries. It was rated 52/45 mpg city/highway on the old EPA rating system, later revised to 42/41. The first Prius was criticized for its nonlinear brake feel, abnormal tire wear and subpar safety ratings.
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In August 2013, Toyota Managing Officer Satoshi Ogiso, who was chief engineer for the Prius line, announced some of the improvements and key features of the next generation Prius. This was the first generation of the Prius to use the Toyota New Global Architecture (TNGA) modular platform, which provides a lower center of gravity and increased structural rigidity. Ogiso also explained that the next-generation Prius plug-in hybrid, the Prius Prime, was developed in parallel with the standard Prius model.
Its new body design is more aerodynamic, with a reduced drag coefficient of Cd=0.25. This figure is disputed by General Motors which found the value for the model with 17-inch wheels to be around 0.30 based on tests in GM, Ford, and Chrysler wind tunnels. Car & Driver measured the third generation Prius at 0.26 in a privately arranged five-way wind-tunnel test of comparable cars. An underbody rear fin helps stabilize the vehicle at higher speeds.
The Prius offers little in the way of driving enjoyment and refinement. Still, the steering effort is pleasingly weighted, and responses to your inputs are accurate—making the handling feel almost lively. Feedback from the road is non-existent, though, and feels numb on-center. Braking is a common gremlin for hybrid vehicles, which use a mix of regenerative and friction braking. Inconsistent or numb feedback from the pedal, as we experienced in the Prius, is often the trade-off and, combined with the low-rolling-resistance tires that most hybrids wear, can make for longer braking distances in our testing than we would expect from other similar-size non-hybrid vehicles.
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.