June 7, 2023

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Toyota Prius hybrid history lesson falls on deaf ears

Toyota Prius hybrid history lesson falls on deaf ears

My daughter frowned when she noticed me pull up at the substantial faculty parking whole lot. 

“Ugh, Dad, what is this?” She hardly achieved for the doorway. There was a nose wrinkle and eye judgment one move away from the vintage American teen eye roll. 

The topic of her disdain was a supersonic purple 2022 Toyota Prius XLE with all-wheel push that would be the sled for our 300-mile highway trip. As a 15-12 months-aged with a driver’s permit, and an knowledgeable if not spoiled point of view on new test cars and trucks, she considered she knew some thing if not almost everything. 

“It’s so…ugh. Will it even healthy my hockey gear?”

I honked. A nearby flock of teens elevated their beaks from their gadgets. She jumped in.

“It’s so unsightly,” she muttered.

“This car or truck is legend,” I begun, adopting her vernacular with all the cringe I could muster. “The Prius created efficiency cool and influenced what’s in this parking whole lot additional than any other auto in your life time.”

2001 Toyota Prius

2001 Toyota Prius

1st technology (2001-2003)

The world’s initially mass developed hybrid auto released in 1997 and was imported to the U.S. in 2000 for the 2001 product yr, “just in time for the 21st century,” in accordance to the marketing taglines, kinda like you, I informed her. 

Even while the Prius followed the Honda Insight into the American current market, it outlasted and endured, like VHS about Beta that designed no sense to my Gen Z daughter. This reference designed no perception to her. As opposed to the two-door Perception, Toyota designed the Prius to be extra than an urban commuter. With four doors and a hatch, it could handle family members suburban element, and at 41 mpg combined, it far more than doubled the average passenger car fuel economic climate at the time. 

“So? Do not the plug-in types not even need fuel?”

That’s the issue, I said. So considerably has improved in 20 several years, and the Prius proved there was a way forward in assembly gasoline overall economy standards. 

With that, I gained the full eye roll and we were being off.  

Even with no a energy tailgate, she in good shape the hockey goalie bag in the vast opening of the hatch, without having the sort of grunting problems she’s created in sedans. Two roller luggage also suit in the 27.4 cubic toes of room with the rear seats up. There was no pass-by means of in the 60/40-break up rear so we folded down the more compact portion for her stick, a cooler, snack bag, and backpack total of homework that would keep on being ignored. We could have suit a teammate and her hockey bag, if we required to. In the rearview mirror, the bag blocked the troublesome split-glass hatch, but there was nonetheless lots of outward eyesight. 

The interior area surprised me once again, as it does just about every time I get in a Prius, and the wide and tall home windows justified its oddball mouse-controller exterior shape. The expansive interior permitted for lots of rear legroom and headroom, and my passenger contented herself by reclining the entrance seat, ear-plugging in, and dad-dropping out of her history lesson. 

It was loud on the freeway, but not rough, and not as unrefined as its predecessors. She took for granted Bluetooth connectivity, and could not have realized it was exclusive when Toyota launched the next-generation Prius. 

2004 Toyota Prius

2004 Toyota Prius

Next-era Prius (2004-2009)

Sensing a strike, Toyota leaned into the futuristic elements with chopping-edge functions these types of as drive-button start, an interactive infotainment monitor, a new style and design, and an evolution of its hybrid procedure that boosted EPA fuel economic climate to 46 mpg blended. It served that gas rates peaked at $4.06 in the center of 2008, when you ended up just discovering how to scoot alongside down the hallways on a trike, I advised her. We handed highway indications for fuel that value the similar now, and I commented on it getting low-cost, but altering for inflation was a discussion for one more street vacation. 

2009 Toyota Prius

2009 Toyota Prius

The quirky style and design of the 2nd-gen Prius aided performance as well, with a windshield that appeared to slope suitable up from the front bumper, forming a triangular higher level higher than the driver’s head like a sail, apart from smoothed out to appear like the mouse controller on wheels that cemented it in that preferred creativeness. It didn’t damage that young Hollywood stars ranging from Miley Cyrus to Gwenyth Paltrow and Leonardo DiCaprio built star-studded appearances in their Priuses to raise eco-awareness. 

“You know Leo?”

She glanced around her shoulder at me with gentle irritation, her whole body contorted into an “as if, duh” retort. 

The 2010 Toyota Prius

The 2010 Toyota Prius

3rd-era Prius (2010-2015)

The Prius matured for its third act, having more time, roomier, a lot more loved ones friendly, and a little much more powerful with a 1.8-liter inline-4 that paired with the motor to make 134 hp. It also overachieved at 50 mpg combined. Toyota commenced rolling out other models, together with the greater Prius V, the smaller, eco-optimized Prius C, and the start of a plug-in hybrid model in 2012 that would grow to be the Key. Right after a decade of dominance, Toyota sensed the hybrid occasions had been changing. 

The recognition of the Prius peaked in 2012 and 2013, when the financial state started to get better and fuel and oil became comparatively cheap. Getting the chief meant fending off the competition, specifically with extra hybrids coming to current market and a nascent electric automobile current market acquiring a cost late in 2010 with the Nissan Leaf and the Chevy Volt plug-in hybrid. The Prius went from being Mr. Popular to currently being the person who graduated superior college several years earlier but still confirmed up to substantial college functions. Remain absent from the Prius at the occasion. But you are not likely to get-togethers as a freshman, right? I asked.

Her cold shoulder remained.  

2020 Toyota Prius

2020 Toyota Prius

Fourth generation (2016-2022)

Toyota tried using injecting some youthful spunk into its growing old star, but all the sharp angles and Botoxed bumpers could not prevail over that extra hybrids were getting packaged in additional preferred compact crossovers, this sort of as the Toyota RAV4. Then there was Toyota’s one-time spouse, Tesla, disrupting the automotive landscape on a much larger sized scale than the Prius ever did. With all the productive hybrid crossovers, as effectively as dozens of plug-in hybrid solutions, the Toyota Prius felt previous.

Kind of remarkable how marketplace acceptance of a hybrid, and how eco-conscious transportation was made awesome on the humped back of the Prius? It paved the way for electric powered cars and trucks. 

No response. 

I persisted. Nevertheless, there was not a a lot more economical and more effective automobile on the sector with no a plug. By 2018, the V was gone, and by 2019 Toyota tried out to forestall the shift to hybrid crossovers with an all-wheel-generate version that we push proper now. There is no car or crossover without having a plug that can occur in close proximity to the EPA rated 51 mpg town, 47 freeway, 49 put together. Glimpse, 49.8 mpg at 75 mph in excess of 200 miles! With a 10.6-gallon tank, and a variety of 519 miles, that signifies we do not have to end unless you make me!

She shifted in her seat or shrugged, the latter remaining so difficult to tell from so numerous comparable dismissive teenager human body motions. 

“What do you make of all that?” I stated, my direct espresso injection operating on all four cylinders. 

“What?” she claimed at last, sitting down up groggy or bored or teenager. She pulled her hair back again and popped out an ear bud. “Did you say something?”

She experienced buds in, Father out the total time. 

I claimed practically nothing. She’ll be in the sector soon sufficient, and I marvel if she’ll identify the new wedgy 2023 Toyota Prius, if she’ll recognize how considerably the fifth era has come from all individuals Priuses that preceded it. 

2023 Toyota Prius

2023 Toyota Prius


2022 Toyota Prius XLE AWD-e

Foundation cost: $30,600 like $1,025 vacation spot

Selling price as tested: $32,084

Drivetrain: 1.8-liter inline-4 with two motors and all-wheel push

EPA gasoline economy: 51/47/49 mpg 

The hits: Performance, versatility, huge room in compact footprint

The misses: Aged appears to be, dated tech, invisible to a new era