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The Toyota Prious is still a leader

June 11, 2017
By Roger Rivero

Six years ago, I drove a Toyota Prius for the first time. I remember two uneven emotions. Joy for the fuel economy, and anguish, for driving a car that, apparently, pulled backwards when a stoplight turned red. The Prius has changed over the years, and Toyota has invested a few million dollars to let us know (or believe) that the new Prius is different, that it’s even capable of carrying four bank robbers in an endless race, where they outsmart an intense police persecution.

The message of the ad is that the new generation of the Toyota Prius is faster, reaching 60 mph in 9.6 seconds.

Driving in “power” mode, you will undoubtedly feel no remorse when leaving a traffic light. On the contrary, the Prius does it with agility and elegance. With a driving mode selector — Eco, Normal and Power — it’s easy to adapt to the necessary driving conditions, although during my week of test, I was always assaulted by the same doubt: Why drive a Prius in “power” mode, when the reason for a car like this is fuel economy?

What Toyota’s commercials are not saying is that this new generation of the Prius is not only the most agile and dynamic on the road, but also the most economical. This, thanks to the use of Toyota’s new modular platform -TNGA- that allows a lower center of gravity, as well as aerodynamic agility and driving rigidity. Efficiency has also been achieved by reducing weight in electric engines and batteries, which are now denser. In every new generation of Prius, Toyota has achieved a 10 percent improvement in the economy of these vehicles, an achievement that deserves praise for the manufacturer.

Some versions of the new Prius — there are several to choose from — reach up to 58 miles per gallon in the city and 53 on the highway, making it the most economical car on our roads, discounting those that need electric charging.

The changes of the Prius have not only been technical, but also in design, with its exterior presenting a more angular look with vertical cuts. Changes, too, has been made to its interior. Newer quality materials are softer to the touch. It has more plastic in the center console and wheel. The use of hard plastics is nothing new in this type of car, but its color combination has been unfortunate in the case of the Prius. The bright white plastic inside the Prius is disproportionate, and causes, according to people’s comments, a certain momentary aversion, which I imagine, would pass with time. I remember trying a Kia Soul last year with similar plastic inserts, but it had a very harmonious choice of colors, which were pleasant and warm to the eye.

Over the years, Toyota has been enriching and varying the alignment of its Prius. There are currently six basic configurations, which differ in price from $24,000 for a Prius Two to $30,000 for a Four Touring. In the middle are the Two Eco, Three, Three Touring and the Prius Four. The cheapest Prius — Two — has reverse camera, keyless entry, Bluetooth, iPhone integration, USB ports and voice command recognition, not bad for a car at that price. At the other end of the spectrum, we have the Prius Four Touring, like the one we tested, a car full of comfort and safety features, including details such as heated seats, JBL audio system, parking assistance and “head-up display” or a projection screen for the driver, just to mention a few.

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