Around the world, its name is synonymous with “hybrid.” Almost two decades after the first Toyota Prius was introduced in the U.S., hybridization has become common, and the Prius still leads in North American hybrid sales. It’s also one of the world’s most fuel-efficient vehicles without a plug, with EPA-estimated 58 city / 53 highway / 56 combined MPG fuel economy ratings (Prius Two Eco). For the 2018 model year, Prius Four and Four Touring grades receive a new standard 11.6-inch high-definition multimedia display.
The tablet-like operation of the vertically-oriented screen provides drivers with easy access to major functions and allows navigation graphics to be brightly visible. Drivers and front passengers will find the pinch and zoom functionality familiar, speaking to the enhanced premium touch that the screen brings to these grades. Toyota offers the 2018 Prius in seven model grades, each one equipped as standard with Toyota Safety Sense P (TSS-P).
Using millimeter-wave radar and a monocular camera sensor to help detect a pedestrian, a vehicle, and lane markers in the surrounding area, TSS-P provides a comprehensive bundle of active safety features designed to help protect drivers and passengers from harm and includes: Pre-Collision System with Pedestrian Detection (PCS w/ PD), Lane Departure Alert with Steering Assist (LDA w/ SA), Automatic High Beams (AHB), and Full-Speed Range Dynamic Radar Cruise Control (DRCC). An available Prius Appearance Package adds additional flair with two-tone black and gunmetal front and rear bumpers, piano black side skirt rocker panels, and 17-inch 5-spoke alloy wheels with gunmetal inserts on the Three and Four Touring grades. Common among all Prius models is a premium interior with a wrap-around dash design, form-hugging seats, easy-to-use controls and exemplary visibility. With up to 65.5 cubic feet of cargo space, Prius provides flexibility in the gear on board. Whether it’s farmer’s market finds, sports gear or supermarket hauls, Prius has it covered.
Most Efficient Prius Ever:
Every generation of the Prius has one key element in common: it exceeded the fuel efficiency of the previous generation. The latest version of its Hybrid Synergy Drive combines the output of a 1.8-liter 4-cylinder gasoline engine and two motor/generators through an electronically controlled planetary-type continuously variable transmission (CVT). Shift-by-wire technology, which uses electric signals to transmit shift operations, offers light, fingertip operation from the dash-mounted shifter. The regenerative brake system switches the motor into a generator to recover the wheels’ kinetic energy as electrical power, storing it in the hybrid battery. The fourth-generation Prius uses smaller, lighter hybrid components than before, including a lithium-ion hybrid battery that replaced the nickel-metal hydride battery (excluding the Prius One and Two standard grade). The battery’s smaller size and lower profile allow it to be packaged under the rear seat, rather than beneath the luggage area, yielding more cargo space. The Prius Two Eco grade provides the highest fuel efficiency thanks to its lighter weight and further optimized aerodynamics.
Fuel Economy Factors:
The electric motors and battery don’t get all the credit for the high fuel economy in the Prius. The internal combustion engine (I.C.E.) does its part, too. The 2ZR-FXE 1.8-liter 4-cylinder gasoline engine achieves more than 40 percent thermal efficiency, thanks to reduced internal friction and improved combustion. It’s also quieter than the previous generation’s engine. Toyota found extra efficiency by cooling the Exhaust Gas Recirculation (EGR) system, and by using exhaust heat recirculation to quickly bring engine coolant up to optimal temperature. Because the Prius, under certain circumstances, can operate in battery mode alone, it incorporates a Vehicle Proximity Notification System (VPNS) to help alert pedestrians and cyclists. A small in-vehicle speaker emits a low but noticeable warning tone when traveling below approximately 15 mph, and the sound changes with vehicle speed.
Beating the Wind:
The newest-generation Prius cheats the wind without cheating passengers out of room. The vehicle’s sleek body yields a 0.24 coefficient of drag (Cd), among the lowest of current production passenger cars. Aerodynamic efficiency is supported by such details as an automatic grille shutter that reduces drag by closing when airflow to the radiator is not needed. Aero stabilizing fins on the underfloor covers, front quarter window garnish and tail lamps likewise keep air moving in a smooth pattern.