2010 Toyota Prius
Typical Price: $27,270.00
CNET Editors' Rating: 4.0 / 5
The good: Getting around 50 mpg on average, the 2010 Toyota Prius is a stellar car for fuel economy, and you can choose accelerator sensitivity. Traffic reports are integrated with the navigation system.
The bad: The Prius isn't designed for handling. There isn't full iPod or USB drive integration for the stereo. The DVD-based navigation system reacts slowly.
The bottom line: The 2010 Toyota Prius is a better car than its predecessor, although there are some areas, especially in the cabin, where we would have liked to see more improvement.
Design, Features & Performance (out of 10)
After the success of its predecessor, the advent of the 2010 Toyota Prius created a lot of expectations. But instead of incorporating sought-after features such as a lithium ion battery pack or plug-in capability, Toyota opted for incremental changes, tweaking the power train to get more power and better fuel economy.
On the cabin tech side, we expected big advances, as competitors have stepped up the game with such options as external data sources, which provide useful location information, and better compatibility with electronic devices. In this area, the 2010 Prius takes a few steps forward, but not as many as we hoped.
The new Prius model can be had in four trim levels, which Toyota dubs II, III, IV, and V, apparently preferring simple Roman numerals to arcane combinations of S, E, and L. Our test model was the Prius IV, which included navigation, upgraded JBL audio system, Bluetooth phone system, a back-up camera, and, most interestingly, the solar-roof option.
From the outside, the 2010 Prius shows some subtle, but smart, body changes. When spotting the new Prius in the wild, you will want to look for the notched back, a horizontal rear crease that lets the hatchback lip stretch out a little, creating a spoiler effect. Less obvious will be the roofline change, which moves the peak back a few inches for better aero efficiency and to add a little headroom for rear passengers.
Looking inside, Toyota adopted the floating console that Volvo started using a few years ago, creating an airy feeling in the cabin and a little storage space. Strangely, Toyota chose to put the Prius' seat heater controls in that open space, so you'll have to reach down in cold weather. Otherwise, the dashboard is still bare of analog gauges, retaining the monochrome digital strip just below the windshield. The steering wheel has a slightly flattened bottom, something more commonly seen on sports cars.
As with the previous version, the 2010 Prius starts out under electric power, creeping forward silently at low speeds and with light acceleration. And light acceleration is all you get with even half throttle applied--the Prius doesn't feel like it wants to move at all, which is one way to save gas. It takes almost full pressure on the accelerator to feel some pull from the front wheel drive, but that also takes the Prius out of electric drive. We found a constant tension while driving the 2010 Prius between playing the maximum mileage game and actually trying to get to a destination.
Initial acceleration may be unsatisfying, but Toyota gave Prius drivers options with the 2010 model in the form of three buttons labeled EV, Eco, and Power. While driving city streets, we tried the EV button, a program designed to maximize the use of the electric drive. The first time, a message on the car's display said our speed, 27 mph, was too high. The second time we tried it, a similar message gave the excuse that the battery was too low. We wondered if the car would cite a headache as the next excuse.
As we expect, Eco mode makes that slow acceleration even worse. But Power mode is tolerable. These modes are merely throttle programs, so a light touch on the accelerator when in Power mode can still produce good mileage. Although we enjoy getting the Prius moving under electric power, in the real world, we found it necessary to stab the accelerator to get moving from a stoplight, engaging both gas engine and electric motor and working toward the peak hybrid system's 134 horsepower. Once up to speed, easing back on the accelerator lets the Prius cruise at speeds of 25 to 30 mph under electric power.
Before getting on the freeway, the navigation system shows us the traffic conditions, a new feature for the 2010 Prius. But this unit is still DVD-based, and searching through the points-of-interest database to find a destination takes some lengthy pauses to retrieve information. New, nice-looking graphics indicate the different means of destination entry through the touch-screen LCD, but most of these are locked out while under way.
However, the voice command system does an excellent job of recognizing our inputs, and offers feedback on the LCD showing which commands are available at each step. With route guidance active, the navigation system shows familiar graphics mapping out upcoming turns and which lanes to be in for freeway junctions. We also discover another new feature for the Prius' navigation: it does text-to-speech, reading out the names of streets.
While driving on city streets, we noticed the new Prius still had the wobbly feeling in turns from which its predecessor suffered. On the freeway, the Prius wanders in its lane as wind buffets it around. The steering feels solid, making it easy to control, but it doesn't have that stable road feeling offered by similar midsize cars.
At freeway speeds, we fight to keep the instantaneous fuel economy gauge above 50 mpg while maintaining reasonable freeway speeds of 65 to 70 mph. Toyota has migrated its various power and fuel economy displays to the monochrome instrument screen, from their former placement on the LCD. Although not as graphically rich, it's safer. We find ourselves settling on the Eco screen, which uses a horizontal bar to show how much throttle we are applying.
The Eco screen shows our average fuel economy, but doesn't show range to empty. We have to dig through a few other screens to find that information. You can't get average fuel economy and range to empty on the same screen--an annoyance. These screens are informative, and let you maximize mileage, but they are a far cry from the hybrid instrument display Ford uses in the Mercury Milan Hybrid.
Another instrument display feature in the new Prius is a graphic that mimics the steering wheel buttons when you press them; the idea being that you don't have to look down at the wheel when you press a button, keeping your eyes closer to a front view. In concept it's pretty cool, but in practice we find it unnecessary. After a few minutes of driving, we remember the button positioning, and don't bother to look at the instrument display feedback.
The freeway is a good spot to listen to the stereo characteristics. We were disappointed on getting into the 2010 Prius to find no iPod port, but Toyota built in stereo Bluetooth support for MP3 players. And, as luck would have it, the new OS for the iPhone includes stereo Bluetooth. We paired an iPhone to the car's Bluetooth phone system when we first got in, and were happy to see the car ingested the phone's contact list as well.
But using the iPhone as a music player meant we had to pair it again, this time to the stereo. You can't use the iPhone for music and phone at the same time with the 2010 Prius. We thought this lack of integration would be a real problem, but switching from Bluetooth music player to Bluetooth phone proves fairly easy, merely requiring a touch on the car's onscreen connect button. Still, if you were to get a call while using the phone as a music player, it wouldn't switch to the car's hands-free system. Also, the Bluetooth audio source screen in the car doesn't show what music is playing and offers no music browsing capability. You only get a play and a pause button. Toyota really should have put in true iPod support.
With the navigation option in our car, the disc changer goes from six slots to four, and is hidden behind the LCD. This arrangement is the same as is in the previous Prius model, and we would have expected some improvement here. That disc changer can, of course, read MP3 CDs. There is also satellite radio and a simple auxiliary input.
Our car includes the upgraded, eight-speaker JBL audio system, which sounds surprisingly good, especially considering what we are used to hearing in Toyota cars. Although lacking a subwoofer, this system puts out bass strong enough to feel, yet still retains well-modulated highs and mids. Instrument definition is good, making the different layers in a recording distinct. This is an above-average audio system.
Proceeding along our route, the navigation system pipes up, warning of slow traffic ahead. It doesn't offer a detour, but looking at the map, we see the freeway marked in yellow, indicating speeds of 20 to 40 mph. This navigation system is supposed to find a route around any red sections, which would mean traffic moving under 20 mph.
The art of braking
As in the previous model, using the brakes is an art in the 2010 Prius. Hit them too hard, and you use the actual pads and calipers. The trick is to anticipate stops and slowdowns and lightly apply the brakes well in advance, which uses the car's regenerative braking system only, thereby feeding the battery and saving wear and tear on the pads.
We employ this braking technique as we get off the freeway and approach our destination. Leaving the car in a parking lot on a hot day, we get to experience one of the more unique features of the Prius: the optional solar roof, which on our car powers a fan in the cabin, so when we get back to the car it's a little cooler than it would be otherwise. We also had a rearview camera on our car, but Toyota implemented a back-up beeping, similar to what you find on big trucks. This gets kind of annoying, although it's probably a pedestrian safety feature, as the Prius will usually be running under quiet electric power when it reverses.
Other tech options available at the V trim level include adaptive cruise control, lane departure warning, and an automatic parking system. We had the opportunity to try these features in a different Prius earlier. The cruise control and lane departure work well, similar to what we've seen in much more expensive cars. The parking system is hit or miss: it does an excellent job of guiding you into well-marked parking spaces, but requires too much adjustment for others.
Driving in the city and on the freeway, we see our average fuel economy range between 48 and 52 mpg, in keeping with the EPA's rating for the 2010 Prius of 51 mpg city and 48 mpg highway. Where the previous model had a 1.5-liter engine, Toyota bumped the displacement up to 1.8 in the 2010 Prius, and also made some refinements in the electric drive system. Toyota claims the larger engine actually gets better fuel economy in some circumstances than the smaller one.
We can't say that we really enjoy driving the 2010 Toyota Prius, but as an economical means of transportation, it's hard to beat. Fuel economy is its major virtue, and we give it a high performance rating for showing an average of around 50 mpg. For cabin tech, Toyota has made a few improvements, but the lack of good MP3 player support is an oversight. Live traffic reports and the JBL audio system are worthwhile improvements. It gets a high score for design, partly because of its body style, which makes it stand out in the crowd while giving it an extremely low drag coefficient. Design also benefits from the nice graphic treatment for the navigation system.
|Model||2010 Toyota Prius|
|Power train||1.8-liter inline 4-cylinder with hybrid system|
|EPA fuel economy||51 mpg city/48 mpg highway|
|Observed fuel economy||50 mpg|
|Navigation||Optional DVD-based with live traffic|
|Bluetooth phone support||Standard|
|Disc player||Four-disc CD changer, MP3 CD support|
|MP3 player support||Bluetooth streaming, auxiliary input|
|Other digital audio||Satellite radio|
|Audio system||Standard JBL, eight speakers|
|Driver aids||Rearview camera|
|Price as tested||$30,709|
|Connection for portable MP3 sound system||Standard|
Average User Rating: 4.0 / 5
User Rating Breakdown
5 Star: 22
4 Star: 11
3 Star: 4
2 Star: 1
1 Star: 4
2010 Prius is a hybrid most people can enjoy
Rating: 5 / 5
on June 21, 2009
8 out of 10 users found this review helpful
Pros: High MPG, Very Roomy inside, no engine belt to replace, quiet, tons of options, solar vent system, lots of safety features, much improve styling over the 2009, sonar cruise control, really nice JBL stereo system upgrade, different engine modes
Cons: Can't get the nice rims from rims off the Prius V onto an other level of Prius, the heated seats buttons are in a odd spot, the plastic dash material shows finger prints, the self park system is not ready for most situations,
Summary: I drove an Insight and each one of the 2010 Prius levels and I find the Insight feels like a classic cramped econo car, while the Prius feels like a nice mid-size sedan. The Honda Insight maybe a couple of grand cheaper, but the driving experience feels cheaper. If you drive the Insight in Eco mode, the AC cooling stops when your vehicle is not in motion. If you are stop and go traffic or at a stop light, you can feel the air getting warmer the longer you sit. I did not have the issue in the Prius. The back seats are cramped in the Insight, interior noise is higher, and the ride is on the stiffer side. The Prius feels roomy and it is a very quiet ride. It gives a feeling of being a solid built car.
There is engine belt to replace or power steering fluid to worry about. I like how the full electric mode last until 25 mph.
The self parking option is a feature for those who want the latest bells and whistles, but for most people I doubt it will have much value. The "lane keep assist" seems to work very well. You just have to get use to the car moving the steering wheel from time to time.
I love the rims on the Prius V, it is a mistake not to offer those on all Prius trim levels.
The Solar Vent system runs when the vehicle is parked. It keeps the interior cooler when you are away and will allow you to run the AC for up to three minutes before getting into the vehicle. Very cool feature, but it costs a pretty penny because it is packaged with the navigation/JBL upgraded stereo.
The touch tracer buttons on the steering wheel is one of those simple ideas that I wish every automotive company would use. It is just one of the many touches that makes you feel like Toyota really thought through the vehicle.
I am not sure who thought of putting the heated seats buttons in such an odd place and why do not they not have a USB connection for the an iPod or other devices is beyond me. I want to be able to control my iPod via the vehicle I am driving.
I think it is great that Toyota does offer a simple Prius for those who just want the basic while offering a ton features for those willing to shell out the cash. The Insight does not have leather seats or much tech beyond a navigation system.
I noticed if you don't want to pay for the upgraded stereo system found in a Prius III to get the bluetooth handsfree option, you can get a Prius II and have a stand alone bluetooth option installed by the dealer for a few hundred.
In my opinion, if you are looking at an Insight, go drive a Prius. It maybe a couple of grand more, but it feels like a much better vehicle. If you are going to be stuck with a car for many years, you will enjoy being stuck with a Prius much more than an Insight.
Updated on Jul 15, 2009
51 MPG, and Drive better than 2009
Rating: 5 / 5
on August 3, 2009
4 out of 4 users found this review helpful
Pros: Consistent 50 MPG. Handling, ride show major improvement over the poor generation 2.
Cons: Dashboard tracer display is worthless. Only tells you that you which function of the dashboard (on steering wheel) you selected rather than the levels (fan, volume, temperature, etc.) EVO mode worthless.
Summary: Generation 3 now uses the Corolla/Matrix chasis which is stiffer, translating to much more solid handling. The electric steering assist has been lessened, making for much better road feel. Rear visibilty is slightly improved. Power ain't bad really, but if you lend it to someone, tell them about the ECO mode accelerator dampening before they pull out in traffic. Four tanks and I'm getting over 50 every time, whether city or highway. Holds two bicycles inside, too.
Love our 2010 Pruis
Rating: 5 / 5
on July 11, 2009
4 out of 4 users found this review helpful
Pros: Actually got 58.8 mpg - ave. speed 65 mph. Almost always get over 53 and even on freeway at 75 over MT-ID passes still averaged 50.9
Cons: No cons at this time!
Summary: The gas mileage is wonderful. Don't understand the comments on handling. We think it does a great job on corners - because we have not owned it through a winter season we don't know about slick roads. We have now driven the car 5000 miles through all kinds of terrain - It will overtake anyone going up steep grades. Can't say as we use the ECO and or PWR buttons, we have tried them, but haven't seen that they make any difference. The GPS works good - I say who cares that the buttons for the seat warmers are not right is plain sight, they are easily reach and of course the weather is warm so have had no need to use them so far. The car has plenty of room for what we need. It fits the big man well. Really like the adjustable driver seat as I am not a very big person and most cars don't fit me, but with the adjustable seat can be adjusted to the just for me position. We have been driving toyota's for 15 years and have had great service with low maintenance from all of them and we are expecting that the Pruis will be even better. Sad to say we drove GM cars up until that time (1960 - 1994), but when our last GM started giving us trouble in less than 50,000 miles, we switched to toyota and never looked back.
Prius hands me $120/mo in cash compared to Camry
Rating: 3 / 5
on April 17, 2010
3 out of 3 users found this review helpful
Pros: Gas mileage, cool tech features, makes me smile all the time. I feel great driving this car.
Cons: Being a Camry owner for 20 years I'm used to a plush, comfortable ride. 2010 Prius is much better than its '09 predecessor in ride quality, butmuch choppier than Camry (new or old). Not awful. I would say - average choppiness for most average cars.
Summary: Mixed feelings. I do not think I will ever go back to a regular (non-hybrid) car again. Trade-offs: -- ride quality compared to better cars. But it is such a pleasure to see when you are driving on a highway on a small decline that you are not using a drip of gas! :) :) I do miss Camry's seats, Camry quietness on a highway. I am very happy that I go to the gas station less frequently and spend $25 instead of $45 with Camry.
An improved but expensive hybrid
Rating: 3.5 / 5
on July 8, 2009
3 out of 4 users found this review helpful
Pros: Looks a lot better than the older dated Prius. Very quiet, smooth ride. Roomy interior. At highway speeds the bigger engine is quieter. Can now maintain speeds on hills.
Cons: Still too expensive. Really slow in ECO mode, bearable in Power mode. Air conditioning is mediocre. Handling while better, is poor, steering feel is awful. The 15" wheels and tires, should be replaced with 16" or 17" wheels as standard.
Summary: The new Prius is an evolutionary upgrade to the earlier model. While there are a lot of improvements, it just does not seem far reaching enough.
The bigger 1.8 liter engine runs quieter at speed because it runs at lower RPMs compared to the previous 1.5 liter. I wish there was a better improvement in acceleration, as the 2010 is almost as slow as the earlier model. ECO mode is painfully slow, Power mode feels a lot crisper, like a normal Corolla. The 1.8 liter engine is very quiet at speed unless hard pressed, but even then, it is quieter than most other 4-cylinder cars. I live up in the hills which is about a four mile drive. I can average only 42MPG because of the long steep slope which forces me to use Power mode (my previous car, a 2003 Passat GLX with a 2.8 liter V6 averaged 27MPG if the a/c was off, 23MPG on).
The car suffers from a lot of lean (needs bigger stabilizer bars) when cornering and the stability control is very aggressive, preventing quick handling changes. The steering feel is non-existent. You have no sensation of where the car is going while turning the wheel. The slow turning of 4.4 turns from lock to lock is an exercise compared to the the Prius V's 3.3.
The interior is a bit nicer, but the center console takes too much room. The dash display is easily washed out when the sun is overhead. I wish the car had a dash that was in front of the driver iso in the center. The nav display is useless when you wear polarized sunglasses. The air conditioner is mediocre, takes awhile to cool down the car, even when in Power mode (ECO mode reduces the a/c's power). The new seats are a lot more comfortable than the earlier models but still not perfect. I wish Toyota would use handbrakes iso footbrakes on the car.
The headlights now use halogen projector beams which are quite bright. I don't know how much better the LED headlights would be. The new body design retains the familiar Prius shape but is different enough to be recognized. The body crease improves the looks a lot. The front end is a lot cleaner looking. The back end is much like the older style. I did notice that the rear plastic spoiler looks cheaply implemented as it is very flexible and looks like it will break off the car if slammed hard.
I would have preferred that the Prius give up some gas mileage if there was a bit more power for acceleration. 0-60 in 8.5 seconds would have been ideal iso 10 seconds.
My Prius IV was $30,000 out the door with the NAV package as the only option. That's very expensive for a small car. The Camry Hybrid was only $500 more, with a lot more room and better acceleration, but the large 2.4 liter 4-cylinder engine was very rough running. I could also get a Camry SE for $28,000 fully loaded with a regular V6.
Right now, the 2010 Prius has a 90-120 day wait in Hawaii. If you want one with the solar sunroof, it would be a 180 day wait.
Overall, the Prius would be a no-brainer if I did not have to contend with the long hill home. But prospective buyers ought to drive it home to see if the lack of power is something you can live with.
Updated on Aug 31, 2009
The 2010 Prius (model IV) is not a driver's car... It is designed as a economical transportation vehicle. Once you get that into your head and accept it, you will love the car...
The car has adequate power for normal driving situations, but one cannot expect it to be a sporty car with only 134hp, once you are moving, acceleration is not bad. The car is very roomy, entry and egress is very good compared to the Honda Insight. The JBL sound system is very clear with a well balanced sound. Excellent gas mileage, getting 47MPG, driving mostly in hilly highway areas. Smooth and quiet ride.
Seats are uncomfortable on long drives, expect backaches. Test car on long drives to see if that is the case for you. Lumbar support on IV & V is of some help but not a cure all. Auto-dimming mirror is useless. You really need the NAV package to get decent view when reversing. NAV screen is useless when wearing sunglasses.
|Manufacturer Suggested Retail Price From Edmunds.com||$27,270.00|