First of all, a HUGE thank you to Toyota of Long Beach20 minutes ago
With all the tech built into Prius, you’re not lost—you're exploring. Boost your journeys with the available 11.6-in. HD multimedia display, and discover a soundtrack for each outing with Entune™ Premium JBL® Audio. The available color Head-Up Display (HUD) projects important information right on the windshield to take your driving experience to the next level.
We sampled both the standard front-wheel-drive Prius and the Prius AWD-e on a snow-covered course in Wisconsin to experience the differences firsthand. On a rather conservative uphill grade, the front-drive Prius was unable to find the traction to climb. The AWD-e, in contrast, was able to get up the hill. Its front wheels struggled briefly to pull the car upward until the rear wheels gave it the nudge they needed. There was a slight lateral creep when the front wheels spun freely, but the Prius never felt as though it would veer off the intended path.
The Prime has an EPA-rated all-electric range of 25 mi (40 km), over twice the range of the first generation model, and an EPA rated fuel economy of 133 mpg‑e (25.9 kW⋅h/100 mi) in all-electric mode (EV mode), the highest MPGe rating in EV mode of any vehicle rated by EPA with an internal combustion engine. Among all-electric cars, only the Hyundai Ioniq Electric has a higher energy efficiency, rated at 136 mpg‑e (25.3 kW⋅h/100 mi; 15.7 kW⋅h/100 km).
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.
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.
All of our picks are roomy, all can carry five passengers in comfort, and all offer advanced safety aids. Among our mainstream selections, pricing is another common thread, as only a few thousand dollars separate the starting prices of the main rivals. (The Buick Regal Sportback is an outlier here; it's more expensive than mainstream models, but not quite nice enough to join the luxury models.)
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.
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.
If the vehicle is traveling at a low speed and the camera-based system detects that a front-end collision is imminent while following a detected vehicle and the driver has not already applied the system can automatically apply the brakes to potentially help reduce the collision’s severity. The system may even help avoid the collision at very low speeds.
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