2003 New York Auto Show: Toyota Prius

Hybrids were much talked about at New York, but only Toyota showed a second generation of a production gasoline-electric hybrid, the 2004 Prius, which aims to move hybrid vehicles from the green fringe to the mainstream. Riding on a new platform that is about six inches longer, with a commensurate increase in wheelbase, the Prius‘s new hatchback body offers mid-size accommodations (110 cubic feet of interior space). A new hybrid system teams the familiar 1.5-liter in-line four (with minor increases in power and torque) and a significantly more powerful electric motor (which jumps from 273 to 500 volts). The brawnier electric motor allows the Prius to spend more time running solely on electric power-as does a new, electric-inverter air conditioning system, which works without the aid of the gasoline engine. City/highway combined fuel economy should be in the mid 50-mpg range (up from the high 40s), while the 0-to-60-mph time drops by 2 seconds to the mid 10s. The new car goes on sale this fall, priced close to the current model. Toyota is expecting annual sales to double, to 36,000.

Comments

Buying Guide

2004 Toyota Prius

Fair Market Price $5,660 Base Sedan

0-60 MPH:

9.8 SECS

EPA MPG:

48 City / 45 Hwy

Safety (IIHS):

Good