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Monday, January 12, 2009

2010 Toyota Prius At the Auto Show

2010 Toyota Prius at 2009 Detroit Auto Show

Competes with: Honda Insight, Ford Fusion Hybrid
Looks like: You might get noticed driving a new one — maybe
Drivetrain: 98-hp, 1.8-liter four-cylinder and 80-hp electric motor
Hits dealerships: Late spring
Don’t let the looks full you — this all-new Prius has been radically altered underneath the hood and inside. The most important spec for any hybrid is mileage, and Toyota has delivered with a combined mileage rating of 50 mpg. That beats the current Prius’ 46 mpg combined rating. City and highway mileage has not been released.The entire powertrain has been revised for maximum efficiency, and the Prius now features a full electric mode that drivers can choose to turn on. The car will run on electric power alone for up to a mile under very careful driving conditions, like in a parking lot. There are also settings for sportier driving and for optimum efficiency. 15-inch wheels are standard, with 17-inch wheels optional.The battery is still a nickel-metal hydride, which has fallen out of favor in next-generation hybrids, like the upcoming plug-ins. But it sure doesn’t seem to damage the new Prius’ top mileage.And the rumors are true: The new Prius will have an optional moonroof with solar cells embedded into it. However, the solar cells will only power a ventilation system that keeps the car cool when parked and turned off. The theory is that it takes exponentially more power to cool down a car for every degree hotter it gets, so this should cut down on those gas-sucking A/C blasts on a sunny day. Inside, the interior has been completely redesigned, with more rear legroom and cargo room. We’ll have an up-close look at the interior later today with more details, but Toyota’s photos are below.The 2010 Toyota Prius goes on sale in late spring and will likely be priced slightly higher than the current model’s $22,000 price tag.