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Toyota Introduces Prius Performance Package

Mean and green?

by on Jun.30, 2011

With the introduction of the Prius Plus Performance Package Toyota aims to give a little "mean" to its familiar green machine.

Who says a green machine also has to be a stone pony?

A number of makers are out to prove that clean, high-mileage battery technology can also deliver surprising performance with products like the Audi etron concept and the Mercedes-Benz SLS e-Cell.  But now Toyota is weighing in, offering up the new Prius Plus Performance Package, an alliterative way of saying a more sporty version of the world’s best-selling hybrid-electric vehicle.

The limited-edition Prius was developed with the helping hand of Toyota’s performance and racing arm, TRD, which is an immediate sign that this is more than just an all-show-no-go offering.

“PLUS is an evolution of hybrid design, where fuel-efficiency co-exists with aggressive styling and performance handling,” the maker explains.

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In practical terms, the Prius Plus Performance Package – P4, if you’ll allow us to use shorthand – starts out where the already aerodynamic hybrid leaves off.  That means a seven-piece aero package including front and rear lower spoilers, side skirts and a rear diffuser that not only add a bit of aggressiveness to the base car’s insufferably smug appearance but also improve its drag coefficient.


First Drive: 2012 Toyota Prius v

Keeping it all in the family.

by on Jun.22, 2011

The 2012 Toyota Prius v is the first in an expanding family of Prius-badged hybrids.

There was a sense of déjà vu as we walked up to the new hybrid parked outside the Eagle Crest Conference Center.  But no wonder.  All similarities are purely intentional when it comes to the new 2012 Toyota Prius v, the first addition to what is soon to become an extended family of Prius-badged hybrids.

It’s been 11 years since the original Prius made its debut, promising an under-the-hood revolution that seems especially timely today with fuel prices nudging upwards towards record levels.  Surprisingly, though, that revolution never quite seems to take off.  Despite $4-a-gallon gas, hybrids today account for barely 3% of the total U.S. market and, all told, if you added them all up their collective sales didn’t match the May numbers for Detroit’s three most popular muscle cars, the Ford Mustang, Chevrolet Camaro and Dodge Challenger.

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Okay, maybe May wasn’t a great example, as Japanese makers like Toyota were still struggling with production cuts caused by the March 11 earthquake and tsunami in Japan.  Sales of the Prius alone were off as much as 40%, company officials lament, due to supply shortages.  Indeed, for the moment, there’s barely a 4-day supply of the original Prius in U.S. showrooms.  The fact is, while American motorists have yet to embrace hybrids, on the whole, they’re in love with the distinctive little Toyota, which now accounts for about 50% of the gas-electric models sold in the U.S. (For more, Click Here.)

So, is it any surprise that when Toyota decided to roll out an assortment of new standalone hybrid models, like the new Prius v, that they would share the familiar and popular badge – and maintain a very familial appearance?