RSS icon Home icon
  • 2018 Toyota Prius Touring

    Posted on October 10th, 2018 ninarussin

    Hybrid raises the eco-friendly bar

    By Nina Russin

    Toyota Prius Four Touring

    The Toyota Prius has always been a polarizing vehicle, and seems to become more-so with each new model. Aficionados love the Prius for its exceptional fuel economy, durability, versatility and eco-friendly focus. Nay-sayers seem to be just as passionate, because certain driving dynamics (e.g. horsepower) must by necessity take a backseat to gas mileage.

    The fact that the fourth-generation Prius averages 52 miles-per-gallon is astonishing, considering its ability to live in the real world of stop-and-go traffic, rain, snow, heat and cold. Even more amazing is its ability to last, quite a long time if one observes the number of Prius taxi cabs on the road.

    The current model is based on Toyota’s new Global Architecture, and hence is the first to feature an independent rear suspension. This is a big deal, because the torsion bar on former models had to support the weight of the battery pack above it, making for a rather clunky arrangement. Improved torsional stiffness in the new chassis translates to a noticeable bump in steering response.

    Base price for the upscale Touring grade is $30,565 excluding the $895 destination charge. Options include a premium package that upgrades the audio system, adds navigation and a higher level of Entune infotainment, Bluetooth streaming audio, Siri Eyes Free, real-time traffic and weather updates and more. Other options include an active safety package with park assist, special exterior color, rear bumper protector and carpeted floor and cargo mats. Final MSRP is $33,395.

    Test drive in Southern Arizona

    Toyota Prius Four Touring

    Thanks to the third wettest October in Arizona history, I had the chance to drive the Prius in some heavy rain. Although Phoenix will never compete with the upper Midwest for ‘wrath of God’ weather, the rain was an opportunity to get a better picture of what it might be like to live with the Prius in a locale where sunshine doesn’t necessarily rule the day.

    The fact that the Prius can live in places where weather is a limiting factor is its true magic. It’s easy to achieve 52 mile-per-gallon fuel economy when the only objective is minimizing rolling friction: much harder to achieve that number when traction and safety become factors. The only limit to the car’s mobility in this part of the country is depth of standing water during flash floods, when traditional gas-powered cars are up against the same barriers.

    While the Prius isn’t known to be a ‘driver’s car,’ ride and handling for the current model are considerably better than for previous generations. The electric power steering system provides much better response at high speeds, and the new suspension design gives second-row passengers a more comfortable ride.

    Toyota Prius Four Touring

    The current model also includes more active safety features, including Toyota’s Safety Sense with Pedestrian Detection: pre-collision warning, autonomous braking, adaptive cruise control and blind spot monitoring with cross-traffic alert. The severely-raked rear window continues to limit visibility as do the large rear pillars, but a standard rearview camera eliminates the problem when the driver shifts into reverse, making it safer and easier to back out of parking spots or scan the driveway for kids who might be playing in the vicinity.

    Because the Prius’ electric motors develop peak torque at extremely low speeds, acceleration off the line is robust, and drivers will have no problems merging into highway traffic from entrance ramps. Net horsepower for the hybrid system is 121; 95 HP for the Atkinson-cycle four-cylinder engine without the electric motor generators.

    Toyota Prius Four Touring

    With the 17-inch rims on the upscale model, the Prius turning radius is 35.4-inches, making it easy to slip in and out of parking spots on the street. For those who aren’t confident in their ability to parallel park, the new Intelligent Parking Assist will do the job for them. Four-wheel disc brakes provide firm, linear stopping power.

    To reduce noise intrusion to the interior, engineers added an acoustic glass windshield. Unlike previous generations, there is very little noise intrusion from the low-profile tires.

    At night, LED headlamps do a good job of lighting the path ahead, providing beams close in intensity to daylight with very little drain on the battery.

    Versatile interior

    Toyota Prius Four Interior

    Because of its liftback design, the Prius can function quite well for buyers with active lifestyles. The battery pack (either lithium-ion or nickel metal hydride depending on the model), is packaged under the second-row seats so they can fold flat, making the car bicycle friendly.

    Keyless entry and start saves the driver from having to fumble for the key fob. I found the power driver’s seat easy to adjust for both a clear forward view and good lower lumbar support. Both the gauge cluster and center stack screen are easy to read in a variety of lighting conditions.

    Toyota continues to use the same gearshift mechanism on the instrument panel as with previous models, including a separate Park mode control. At this point it should be intuitive for most drivers.

    One of the biggest add-ons in terms of infotainment is standard Qi wireless charging, so drivers with compatible phones simply need to rest them in a cradle in the center stack, and don’t have to remember a charging cord.

    Standard safety

    The Toyota Prius comes with eight airbags, antilock brakes, traction control, stability control, tire pressure monitoring, rain sensing wipers and electronic brake force distribution. The Prius received a five-star crash test rating from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA).

    Toyota builds the Prius at its Toyota, Aichi Japan assembly plant.

    Like: The most fuel efficient and safe Prius to date, with improved driving dynamics thanks to an independent rear suspension.

    Dislike: Limited visibility out the rear window.

    Make: Toyota
    Model: Prius Four Touring
    Year: 2018
    Base price: $30,565
    As tested: $33,395
    Horsepower: 121 Net
    Torque (gasoline engine only): 105 lbs.-ft. @ 3600 rpm
    Zero-to-sixty: N/A
    Antilock brakes: Standard
    Side curtain airbags: Standard
    First aid kit: N/A
    Bicycle friendly: Yes
    Off-road: No
    Towing: No
    Fuel economy: 54/50 mpg city/highway

    Comments are closed.