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2010 Toyota Prius Driving Impressions

About.com Rating 4 Star Rating
User Rating 5 Star Rating (1 Review)


2010 Toyota Prius headlight

Prius with the available LED headlamps. Every little bit counts--the LEDs reduce power consumption by 17 percent over conventional halogen bulbs.

© Scott Gable

The Bottom Line

With the redesigned third-generation, Toyota has fixed almost every complaint that was ever lobbed at the Prius. It’s seriously good looking now while still maintaining that distinctive all-its-own look. And increased interior dimensions give a nice roomy occupant volume of 93.7 cubic feet. I only drove the car for a few short hours, but I do feel comfortable stating that save a small tweak here or there, it’s hard to imagine a Prius any better. But remember, we’re talking Toyota here, and they’re never satisfied. Fuel Economy mpg: 51 city/48 highway/50 combined. MSRP: $21,000 for Prius I. Release: May, 2009


  • Innovative styling with a triangular silhouette replaces the old "bubble look"
  • More total interior volume and crisp handling
  • More total vehicle power with better fuel economy
  • Even better Hybrid Synergy Drive
  • Transition from engine off/on/off almost completely undetectable


  • Over-the-shoulder rear visibility still a bit of a problem (use that camera)
  • Suspension damping a little weak on choppy roads


Guide Review - 2010 Toyota Prius Driving Impressions

To stave off the challenge from Honda’s brand new Insight, the trusty Prius has received a boat-load of upgrades and improvements. Yes, the face is prettier, the interior is roomier, but the meat of the enhancement is in the make-it-go hardware. Toyota’s engineers redeveloped more than 90 percent of the Hybrid Synergy Drive components. A brand new 1.8-liter engine replaces the old 1.5 for more low-end torque. The all-new transaxle is lighter and reduces torque losses by 20 percent. Both the NiMH battery and Power Control Unit are more compact and powerful, and finally, a set of three switches on the console lets the driver choose among EV (electric only at 25 mph for up to a mile), ECO and POWER modes to custom tailor the drivetrain’s response to changing driving conditions.

OK, so the hardware is better across-the-board, but what’s it like to get behind the wheel and hit some curves and hills? This car is just flat-out fun to drive. It’s not a pocket rocket by any means (nor is it intended to be), but handling is tight and predictable and straight-line stability (never a Prius hallmark) is much improved over previous generations. And finally, yes, four-wheel disc brakes--thank you Toyota! All of that under-body cladding and aero tweaking appears to help handling as much as does efficiency. Come to a steep grade where you need a little more umph and push the PWR MODE button. Instantly the 4-banger belts out extra mid-range torque. And when you crest that hill, go back to ECO MODE for thrifty driving.

I need my normal week of extended seat time to really get to know the third generation Prius. When it finally hits the press fleet later this spring I’ll give an in-depth test drive and review. For now, let's just say I am initially impressed and can't wait for my week-long-try-every-button-and-push-every-curve test drive.

User Reviews

Reviews for this section have been closed.

 5 out of 5
Just got a new 2010 Prius and are very happy!, Member XXXNoname

We just got a new 2010 Prius and so far, love a lot about it! Handles well and is a very smooth and quiet ride. It is a smaller car but comfortable. My husband loves the ""eco"" energy use displays which the driver can monitor without being too distracted from traffic. We also got the special terms just as advertised from Toyota with a minimum of the standard car dealer hassles. All in all, we are very pleased!

1 out of 1 people found this helpful.

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