First of all, a HUGE thank you to Toyota of Long Beach20 minutes ago
In Latin prius is the neuter singular of the comparative form (prior, prior, prius) of an adjective with only comparative and superlative (the superlative being primus, prima, primum). As with all neuter words, the Latin plural is priora, but that brand name was used by the Lada Priora in 2007. Despite the "official" plural form used by Toyota USA, "Priuses" is widely used in English.
The automobile that defined this size in the United States was the Rambler Six that was introduced in 1956, although it was called a "compact" car at that time. Much smaller than any standard contemporary full-size cars, it was called a compact to distinguish it from the small imported cars that were being introduced into the marketplace. By the 1960s, the car was renamed the Rambler Classic and while it retained its basic dimensions, it was now competing with an array of new "intermediate" models from General Motors, Ford and Chrysler.
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.
Global sales of the Aqua/Prius c passed the 500,000 mark in August 2013. and the 1 million milestone during the first half of 2015. As of January 2017, with 1,380,100 units sold worldwide, the Aqua/Prius c is the second top selling TMC hybrid after the regular Prius. The top market is Japan with 1,154,500 Aquas sold, capturing 83.6% of global sales, followed by North America with 192,700 units.
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But it's the shift in consumer tastes toward compact crossovers that has most impacted the Prius. Toyota's own RAV4 Hybrid is neck-and-neck in sales this year, even with a base price that's almost $4000 higher and fuel economy numbers that start with 3s rather than 5s. If you're looking for an answer to the "Why all-wheel drive? Why now?" questions, this is it. It doesn't hurt that Toyota is already selling a nearly identical all-wheel-drive Prius in Japan, simplifying this marketing move.
The Prius's hybrid powertrain is not capable of delivering thrilling or even amusing acceleration. Its lethargy can't be given a free pass, as other competitors prove that acceptable performance need not be sacrificed in the pursuit of world-beating fuel economy. The all-wheel-drive versions feature an electric motor that functions separately from the hybrid system and powers the rear wheels.
The United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and California Air Resources Board (CARB) rate the Prius as among the cleanest vehicles sold in the United States, based on smog-forming emissions. The 2018 model year Prius Eco ranks as the second most fuel efficient gasoline-powered car available in the US without plug-in capability, following the Hyundai Ioniq "Blue".