Although we were expecting a regular, boring, Toyota-like ride, we have to say that we were a bit surprised of how good the Prius handled in the "Open Road" section of our test drive. Whether it was the 17-inch wheels with low tire walls, the nice suspension setup or the low center of gravity (actually, more like all of these factors contributed), the end result was much better than expected. The steering wasn't half bad either when it comes to feel, especially considering it's electric, not hydraulic.
The combined power output of both the electrical engine and the ICE (internal combustion engine) is a somewhat adequate 136 horsepower. This translates into a naught to 100 km/h (62 mph) time of 10.4 seconds, which is pretty normal, while the top speed is a rather low 180 km/h (112 mph). We say low mainly because the Prius' top speed should also be helped by the amazing aerodynamic drag coefficient of only 0.25, but apparently it isn't.
Although the Prius also benefits from the ginormous torque of an electrical engine, its mid-range pull doesn't seem all that special. That is probably because the 400 Nm (295 lb ft) of "electrical" torque are only available from 0 to 1200 rpm, while the so-called transmission is behaving like a totally non-sporty CVT, delaying "shifts" as much as possible in order to improve fuel economy at the expense of acceleration.
So, on the whole, the Prius can be used just like a regular car on the highway or during longer trips, since the comfort it provides is more than adequate for long-distance cruising. Also, by setting the standard cruise control at a highway speed you can gently cruise along for hundreds of miles. The fuel consumption will be around four liters per 100 kilometers (US 58.8 mpg) at a steady speed of 130 km/h (81 mph).
What we didn't like was its total lack of oomph during highway passing and the way the "transmission" works. Overall, it's not as horrendous as to make you use it exclusively in the city, since its qualities also recommend it for long distance driving. Continue reading
Hold on, Mary would like to say something...
Yikes! I never knew environmentally-conscious celebrities had such poor taste in cars! This... Toyota looks absolutely disastrous! Who did they hire to draw such an atrocity, the guy who did the alien in... Alien (H.R. Giger, ed), or was it a futuristic washing machine designer?
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