Back before the Prius broke out into different size models and plug-in offerings you had just the core Toyota hybrid that’s gone on to sell over 1.5 million vehicles in the United States alone since 2000. The 2014 offering of the leader of the hybrid market segment is getting ready to hit Toyota showrooms, and there’s some stuff to note before you go out and buy one, though most of it is nothing new to really report on.
Most notably, as in years past, are the gas mileage ratings. For the 2014 Prius model year, Toyota said its hybrid has ratings of 51 MPG city / 48 MPG highway / 50 MPG combined. The Japanese automaker has evolved its technology in these vehicles over the years, thus representing, for example, that the combined figure is nearly a 25-percent higher estimate than for the smaller first-generation Prius.
As for the hybrid drivetrain in the Prius, Toyota said of it that it
combines the output of a 1.8-liter Atkinson-cycle, four-cylinder engine with and electric motor. The combined 134 net system horsepower feels even stronger to the driver due to the unique way the system combines the power of the gasoline engine and electric motor.
A full hybrid, the Prius can run on the gasoline engine alone, battery alone, or a combination of both. The driver can select from among four driving modes, “Normal,” “POWER,” ECO” and “EV.” The EV Mode allows driving on battery power alone at low speeds for about a mile, if conditions permit. POWER Mode increases sensitivity to throttle input for a sportier feel; ECO Mode helps drivers enhance fuel economy by adjusting throttle input and climate control. A standard Multi-information Display panel monitors the vehicle’s fuel and battery energy, and includes a display that helps the driver adopt economical driving habits.
Prius uses an electric water pump and electric power steering and uses no accessory drive belts. As a result, efficiency is enhanced and maintenance costs are potentially reduced. Regenerative braking helps to recapture electrical energy under deceleration, which helps to reduce fuel consumption.
Four model trims are being offered for 2014, with models Three and Four having an optional “sliding glass moonroof packaged with solar panels, located over the rear seating area. These power a ventilation system that helps reduce the interior air temperature when the car is parked in the sun. The available remote air conditioning system allows remote operation, enabling the driver to lower the interior temperature for comfort before getting into the car.”
Also of optional interest is a factory installed accessory package to give the car a “sporty look and sharper handling.” It includes a seven-piece aerodynamic ground effects kit for a lower-profile stance that also helps maintain fuel efficiency; 17-inch forged alloy wheels with a custom offset to increase track width; track-tuned springs that lower the vehicle “to enhance steering response and cornering performance” and a rear stabilizer bar that helps reduce body lean for flatter cornering.