The 2010 Prius: A Glimpse Into The Future
Ask the average consumer what comes to mind when you think of a fuel-efficient car that's good for the environment, and the Prius is almost always the answer you'll receive. The success of previous iterations of the Prius has led to massive expectations of improvement and innovation with each passing year, and 2010 is no different. Economic conditions and other factors, however, have led Toyota to make more incremental changes to their hybrid powerhouse.
If you were expecting a lithium ion battery in the 2010 Prius, you will undoubtedly be disappointed to hear that Toyota wasn't ready to send their lithium technology main stream, although much like previous models you'll still start out under electric power. When accelerating at low speeds you'll find your Prius creeping along silently, which can be a boon or a curse depending on whether you're looking to save gas or speed up onto a highway.
Of course you do have other options in this vein. The 2010 model offers three different buttons that will modify how much power you'll need in exchange for mileage. You can go with EV, which maximizes electrical use (but only functions at low speeds), Eco which provides a balance, and Power, which gives your Prius some extra pepper but guzzles a little more gas.New Technology
Aside from the improved mileage, the Prius has a number of toys usually reserved for the more high-end Lexus brand. You'll find LED headlights and fog lights as well as 17 inch alloy wheels (or 15, depending on the model). You will also have the option for Toyota's Safety Connect assistance system. In addition you can also buy your Prius equipped with a solar roof panel that can help to power a fan used for venting your car in the heat as well as electrically powered A/C that will keep your car cool for a few minutes even before you get in.Handling and Riding
If the new 2010 Prius has one major drawback, it would have to be accelerating. Getting your Prius off to a start can feel a bit jerky and weak. Once you get up to cruising speed, however, the ride is much smoother. Utilizing the power button helps to alleviate this somewhat, but you just won't get the same juice as other larger cars with more engine power.
If you can splurge for the V model, it might be a good idea, as the 17-inch tires go a long way when it comes to steering and breaking even if they are a bit noisier on the highway. You'll still have a fairly quiet ride regardless of your model, but the V boasts superior handling.To Summarize
In short, the 2010 Prius comes loaded with all sorts of interesting gadgets, but remains fundamentally the same as previous models. Modest mileage increases up the ante somewhat, but I imagine many consumers are holding out for the lithium ion and plugin prius versions that are expected down the line.