Toyota Prius i-Tech first look

The most recent model copies previous engine design and delivers just as good a fuel economy, but is it worth the expense?
 
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01.Introduction

Toyota Prius i-Tech
Price: $37,868-$50,286  (on test was the 2011 version, with only superficial changes in the 2012 version)

Contact: toyota.com.au 

3 1/2 stars out of 5

We've driven the Toyota Prius i-Tech recently, both in the city and on the highway, and although we found it has a good economy, some ride facets were disappointing.

ANCAP rating: 5 stars out of 5

Performance

  • The Toyota Prius i-Tech accelerates from 0km/h to 100km/h in a respectable 11 seconds. 
  • Its brakes are effective, stopping in 10.4m from 50km/h. 
  • The steering feels a bit removed from the road and the suspension is designed more for comfort than performance. It also loads up and becomes a little heavy when cornering, and the weight of the car really shows up at this point.
  • With the radar cruise control, driving on the motorway is pretty effortless.

Safety

The Prius has a number of safety systems that control traction, stability and braking. There is also a pre-collision system that will apply the brakes and tension the seatbelts if a collision is imminent. The i-Tech adds radar cruise control and parking assistance.

Comfort

  • The cabin is comfortable, though the dash and console are made of a hard, plant-based plastic that Toyota claims emits less CO2 than similar materials.
  • The instrument display is well laid out and a heads-up display can show speed and acceleration mode.
  • The steering wheel has controls for trip and fuel display, audio system and phone connection.

Savings

The claim is 3.9L/100km for both urban and highway driving. We measured about 4.6L/100km on both, about 18% more than claimed. 

At current petrol prices and using the claimed consumption for all vehicles, it would take more than 20 years to make up the difference between the Prius i-Tech purchase price and a Toyota Corolla. Even the basic Prius would take more than 10 years to break even.

CHOICE verdict

The Prius is very fuel-efficient and the technology in the engine, safety systems and features is remarkable, if somewhat distracting at the start. Its hybrid technology means it can happily travel the highway as well as city streets and you can feel happy about the reduced environmental impact – but there's no denying hybrid technology is expensive.

For more information about Green cars, see Cars.

 
 

 

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