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Toyota Rolls Out a More Versatile Prius at Detroit Auto Show

The Prius brand is growing as Toyota rolls out the more versatile Prius v midsize that joins the third-generation Prius and a Prius Plug-in Hybrid Vehicle. A fourth Prius, the Prius c Concept, was also introduced at the Detroit Auto Show.

The timing is good for Toyota to start building a separate brand for Prius. Some experts are predicting gas prices could hit $5 a gallon either this year or next. Even if they don’t hit $5 a gallon, they will probably rise in the next few months. "This is a great time to emphasize the Prius brand as gas prices are likely to spike in the spring," said CEO Jeremy Anwyl. The Prius v will also assuage consumers who have concerns with the range viability of electric vehicles or want to get good fuel economy while being able to carry household items.

This new Prius has a hatchback look to it. That’s traditionally been a tough sell in the American market but it could prove popular among Prius buyers who typically are outside of the normal car-buying demographic.

The Prius v is all about delivering more space and maintaining strong fuel economy. Toyota says it will feature over 50-percent more interior cargo space than the current Prius but be built on the same platform and have the same hybrid synergy drive system. A low, wide-opening rear hatch reveals 34.3 cubic feet of cargo space behind the rear seats, making it the most spacious dedicated hybrid vehicle on the market and better than some compact SUVs.

The Prius v will deliver estimated EPA fuel economy ratings of 42 mpg city, 38 mpg highway and 40 mpg combined, the best fuel economy ratings of any SUV, crossover, or wagon on the market. It will also emit 66-percent fewer smog-forming emissions than the average new vehicle.

Comfortable seating for five is specifically designed for young families. The sliding second row seats allow for easier ingress and egress and rear-storage flexibility, with a 45-degree recline for greater comfort. The 60/40 split, folding rear seats present four different seat arrangements that provide usability for passengers and luggage, while a fold-flat front-passenger seat allows for extremely long cargo.

Also available, and a Toyota-first, is a resin Panoramic View moonroof with power retractable sun shades that provides an open atmosphere in the cabin with a 40-percent reduction in weight as compared to conventional glass roofs of the same size, and excellent heat insulation performance.

The Prius midsize liftback has accounted for more than 955,000 sales in the U.S. since it was introduced in 2000. The third-generation Prius, which reached dealerships in June 2009, has continued the hybrid’s heritage of exceptional fuel economy and low emissions, while becoming the third-best selling Toyota passenger car in the U.S.

The Prius v has four driving modes (Normal, Power, Eco and EV). A Smart Key System with Push Button Start, an electronic shift lever, Hill Start Assist Control (HAC), and a back-up camera are standard. Available options include energy-efficient LED headlamps, Dynamic Radar Cruise Control with a Pre-Collision System (PCS), and Advanced Parking Guidance System.

Prius v will be one of the first Toyotas with the Entune multimedia system. This new system leverages the mobile phone to provide a richer in-vehicle experience with fully integrated and wireless upgradeable navigation, entertainment and information services. Toyota Entune debuts the first-ever support for engaging mobile apps, such as Bing, OpenTable, and, along with accessing useful travel-related services, such as live weather, traffic, fuel information (location and price), stocks, news and sports.