The Toyota Prius is carried over from the previous model with respect to both styling and powertrain. The first Toyota hybrid underwent a total redesign for 2004, and a new model will appear in 2009. Seat-side and side-curtain airbags have been added as standard safety features. Toyota has also introduced a new Touring trim, which offers more of a sporting demeanor.
Standard features are commensurate with the price. All models include steering wheel audio and climate controls, a six speaker CD sound system, a trip computer, cruise control, power windows, keyless entry, and automatic climate control. The base model can also be equipped with a DVD-based navigation system with voice-activation, Bluetooth, SmartKey, and a nine speaker JBL audio system with an in-dash CD changer.
All Prius models are 4 doors with a hatchback-style trunk. The car was restyled in 2004, perhaps to address the jeers about its awkward looks. The hybrid has also been criticized more its very modest power supply and acceleration. However, most drivers have found its smoothness and efficiency beyond reproach. The Hybrid Synergy Drive system is composed of a 1.5 liter inline four engine, working with two electric motors. The first motor functions as a power generator, for engine startup and battery recharging. The second electric motor drives the front wheels, along with the engine. The total power output is 110 horsepower. This power plant is mated to Toyota's unique continuously variable transmission.
The gasoline engine is almost unnecessary at low speeds and the second electric motor will power the car on its own. The result is higher city gas mileage. The EPA estimate for the Prius is 60/51 mpg.