Toyota Prius (2009)

The hybrid du jour is back and although prices have gone up, fuel economy is now officially pegged at 3.9L/100km.


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About The Author

CNET Editor

Derek loves nothing more than punching a remote location into a GPS, queuing up some music and heading out on a long drive, so it's a good thing he's in charge of CNET Australia's Car Tech channel.


Update: The new generation Prius has just been launched in Australia and we've updated this first take with relevant pricing and specification details.

Upside

While Honda has targeted affordability with its new Insight, Toyota focussed its energies on delivering improved fuel economy and oodles of new tech. Despite the company fitting the car with a larger 1.8-litre engine and upping the power output from the hybrid drivetrain to 100kW, the new Prius has achieved a fuel economy rating of 3.9L/100km in official testing — 3.7L/100km on the highway, 3.9L/100km in the city. By way of comparison the new Insight has achieved a combined rating of 5.9L/100km in the US.

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(Credit: Toyota)

To aid fuel efficiency in the real world, Toyota has moved the Energy Monitor — the large graphic that displays whether you're running on petrol or electric power or recharging the batteries — from the large sat-nav/radio LCD to the instrument-cum-information strip along the top of the dashboard. Various bar graphs showing current and past fuel economy can also be displayed along this strip although, at first glance, none of these seem to be as earth-shakingly intuitive as Honda's speedometer, which turns from blue to green the more efficiently you drive.

There's also three manually selectable driving modes: EV which allows the Prius to be driven up to 50km/h on battery power alone, Eco which reduces accelerator responsiveness and makes the air-con more parsimonious, and Power that sharpens throttle response.

Standard on all Prius models is Bluetooth hands-free, an auxiliary jack for MP3 players and a new Touch Tracer system that highlights the stereo-wheel mounted controls in the instrument panel whenever you touch or press those buttons.

Downside

To get the cutting edge tech goodies, as well as some old favourites, you'll have to stump up for the i-Tech model (AU$53,500), which includes LED headlights, radar cruise control, climate control air-conditioning, and seats and trim covered in dead cow. Also part of the i-Tech package is a roof-mounted solar panel array that powers the air-con when the car is parked; Toyota reasons that if the car is nice and cool when you set off on your trek, the petrol engine will spend less time powering the air-con when you're on the move.

A reversing camera and sat nav system — a DVD-based system still, alas — is included in the i-Tech spec, but is also available as a AU$5000 option pack on the base model.

Outlook

In Australia, unlike some overseas markets, like the US and Japan, the new Prius is more expensive than the outgoing model — the base and i-Tech models are up AU$2500 and AU$6600 respectively. Toyota counters that if you take features into account, the value has improved. Nonetheless, we can't wait to test out all of the Prius' funky new tech, as well as — dare we say it? — go on an economy run.



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Dave posted a comment   

The Good:Comfort

The Bad:Not so ugly

It's not the car, it's how you drive it! sd@basseini.eu

nik
9
Rating
 

nik posted a review   

The Good:hydrid heaven

The Bad:price in Australia much more than US

Can someone tell me why Prius in the US is US$22,000 base model but AU$39,000 in Australia.

 

Kev posted a comment   

The Good:Reliable, this is not a small car

The Bad:Price

I currently drive a Gen 2 Prius it is possibly the most reliable car i have ever owned. I am currently waiting for a Gen 3 to be delivered. Once you have driven a prius for a few months youll never go back to a non-hybrid car. I was hoping to get all the gadgets for the staggering $40,ooo price of a base medel. I wonder how much the hybrid camry will cost?

 

james kally posted a comment   

The Good:looks, better ride, comfort, technology

The Bad:price

Why so many idiots here trying to give a review on a car which they can never afford? Makes you wonder what kind of people made up cnet.com.au! Go to cnet.com instead. There at least you get some decent reviews and more civilised audience!

JonP
4
Rating
 

JonP posted a review   

The Good:Refinement, ride, interior space, economy

The Bad:Performance, cost, looks, NiMh battery(still)

I was really looking forward to driving the new Prius, better performance, better economy. But IMO the performance is no better than the old car, even in power mode it actually feels slower, the price (particularly in AU) is ridiculous and I don't even like the new looks much. On the plus side the ride is much improved over the old model, particularly for the back seat passengers and the HUD is a nice touch. The car feels better built too. But I don't think I'll be buying one just yet..and for the record its a 1.8L

hosiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiii
10
Rating
 

hosiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiii posted a review   

The Good:it is a very nice car it is a really smart idea to make such a fuel aficient car i would buy it it is perfect in all ways

The Bad:????????????????????????????????????

you can allways trust toyota beautiful car love it it is not ur lambo ferrari just my future car

Freddo
2
Rating
 

Freddo posted a review   

The Good:Nothing

The Bad:What a rip-off!

Derek, get your facts right, climate control is standard in both base and i-Tech.

 

ok posted a comment   

Wait, hold on. I thought they said that they were going to price it competitively. Who the heck are they attempting to compete against here???

 

ok posted a comment   

The Good:Clean, green, not bad looking.

The Bad:Price. More expensive than before. And before, it was heck expensive.

Are you sure that's the price?

 

Mungo posted a comment   

Why do they cost so much? Have you people got any idea how many billions of $ are spent on the R&D of a car? And the Prius is a low-volume, new-tech model, compared to a Corolla, which sells its **** off!
The biggest problem we have is that Governments around the world haven't subsidised hybrid electric cars heavily. Cheaper price points trasnslate to early adoption of the technology, which allows manufacturers to further develop things like plug in electric cars, without fear of going bankrupt.
Once they are selling large volumes of units, the technology will be cheaper.
SO... what to do in the meantime?


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