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Toyota Prius Named “Greenest” Vehicle

by on Jan.16, 2013

The Toyota Prius C is hailed as America's "Greenest" car.

The Toyota Prius C, the newest member of Toyota Prius “family,” has been named the nation’s “Greenest” vehicle by the American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy.  At the other end of the spectrum, the ACEEE tarred the Ford F-350 as the “Meanest,” or dirtiest vehicle on the road.

The organization, which describes itself as a “catalyst to advance energy efficiency,” hailed the growing number of hybrids, plug-ins, pure battery-electric vehicles and other environmental friendly vehicles now coming to market and noted that new products dominated the dozen models on its “Greenest” vehicle list.

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“The vehicles at the top of this year’s rankings are proof that automakers are really ramping up their offerings,” said ACEEE lead vehicle analyst Shruti Vaidyanathan. “There are more hybrid and electric options on the market this year than ever before and the race for a spot on the Greenest list is increasingly competitive. Automakers have revamped their offerings to meet the growing demand for efficient vehicles and new fuel economy standards.”

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Ford, Toyota, Mazda and Dodge Square off for Green Car Honors

Hybrids face challenge from conventional gas technology.

by on Oct.25, 2012

Green car organizers note the new Ford Fusion shows how conventional and battery tech are both able to meet greener targets.

While hybrids and electric vehicles may be the very definition of “green” technology to the average American motorist, the organizers and judges of the Green Car of the Year award have a somewhat different take.

As their latest list of finalists for the annual honor underscores, there are plenty of high-mileage, low-emissions alternatives vying for consumer awareness.

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“This is an exciting time” for those looking for greener technology, suggested Ron Cogan, publisher of Green Car Journal. The magazine has run the Green Car of the Year program for eight years in conjunction with the LA Auto Show. The award will be presented this year on November 29th.

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2012 Prius c Impresses, Even Out of its Element

Baby Prius finds sweet spot on price, fuel economy.

by on Sep.12, 2012

Even though long-distance cruising isn't what it does best, the Toyota Prius c returned 46 mpg on a 1,150 trip.

When planning a bladder-busting road trip, deciding which car to bring is a key decision.

Let’s consider the contenders. In this corner, we have a 2013 Toyota Prius c, the new baby in the four-member Prius family of hybrids. The challenger: a 2008 Dodge Grand Caravan.

The trip was a follow-up to visit to our new freshman at Michigan Technological University in Houghton, a 530-mile drive. Our cavernous challenger would provide extra space for stuff that our young student forgot in the first go round. But at 23 mpg on the freeway, a loan might be necessary to pay for the fuel.

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So the kid will have to live without his snowboard until Thanksgiving (this is Houghton; snow before Thanksgiving is not out of the question).

That’s because of the critical number for the Prius c: 46. That’s the average fuel economy for our trip, which totaled 1,150 miles.

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2013 Toyota Prius v Can Really Haul

Space isn’t the only thing that’s big about this new member of the Prius family.

by on Aug.24, 2012

Toyota's Prius v is the biggest in the newly expanded three-car Prius family.

You just couldn’t do this in a regular Toyota Prius. Toyota’s new Prius v, a larger version of Toyota’s hyper-mileage halo car, showed up during moving week, as we moved 20 miles west to be closer to work and school.

We repeatedly stuffed the v – essentially a wagon version of the Prius hatchback – with boxes, bags and whatnot for multiple trips to the new house. While it couldn’t match the pair of minivans that were also making multiple trips, those giant draft horses don’t come close to matching the mileage return from the biggest of what is now a three-member Prius hybrid family. The third model, the Prius C slots in as the baby bear option in the Prius clan. Even doing moving van duty, the Prius returned better than 42 mpg, mostly spent on a rural two-lane.

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While the original Prius’ back end slopes for a more aerodynamic shape, the v’s back end is squared off. That bigger tail gives the Prius v more than 36 cubic feet of space for your junk, compared to 21.6 cubes for the regular Prius.

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Consumer Reports Trash Talks Toyota, Honda

Call Prius C, Civic “Cars to Avoid.”

by on Aug.07, 2012

The latest Honda Civic takes some more hits from Consumer Reports magazine.

If the well-regarded Consumer Reports has taken some criticism, over the years, it’s for being too import friendly, but you’d be hard-pressed to tell from the non-profit publication’s latest issue – where it takes the Toyota Prius C and Honda Civic to task as two of “Five Popular Cars to Avoid.”

That could be bad news for the two makers as CR does, indeed carry significant weight among more affluent, import-oriented buyers.  The Civic is a critical model in the Honda line-up but has already taken sharp criticism since its 2011 redesign, while the Prius C is the newest member of Toyota’s expanded hybrid family.

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“Just because a car generates a lot of buzz or is a best seller doesn’t mean that it’s a good choice for you,” warns the magazine.

The two Japanese makers aren’t the only ones coming under fire in the September 2012 issue of Consumer Reports, however.  The magazine also targets three domestic models: (more…)

Ford Claims New C-Max Tops Prius V Mileage

Battle of the hybrid people-movers.

by on Jul.09, 2012

The 2013 Ford C-Max Hybrid and C-Max Energi plug-in hybrid models.

Hoping to build demand for a new generation of dedicated battery cars, Ford says it expects its new C-Max hybrid to deliver about 3 miles per gallon better fuel economy than the similarly sized Toyota Prius V.

Tackling the Prius powerhouse is something a number of makers have so far tried – and failed to achieve.  The original Toyota hatchback has been the world’s best-selling hybrid and now the Japanese maker is trying to ride its own coattails with an assortment of other hybrids also sharing the Prius name.

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The largest of the offerings, the microvan-sized Prius V, has been gaining ground on the sales charts thanks to a mix of strong mileage – at 44 mpg in the EPA’S City cycle – and added room.

Ford plans to play it by the numbers, pitching the new C-Max as offering better mileage, more room, more power – and a lower price.

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“Eco” Models Aren’t Worth the Money, Finds Consumer Reports.

The Toyota Prius C “fuel efficient, but not a deal.”

by on May.31, 2012

Despite great mileage, Consumer Reports pans the new Toyota Prius C.

Hoping to squeeze every last mile out of a gallon of gas?  Automakers have been launching a flood of new “eco” models designed to do just that.  But a new report warns that the minimal extra mileage isn’t worth the hefty price tag – which in some cases would require as much as 38 years of driving to recover in terms of lower fuel costs.

The new study by Consumer Reports raises questions about a variety of conventionally powered Eco models, such as Ford Focus SFE, Chevrolet Cruze Eco and Honda Civic HF. But it was also skeptical of the benefits promised by some hybrid models, such as the new Toyota Prius C which, it declares, “is fuel efficient, but not a deal.”

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The problem is that the savings are offset by hefty initial premiums averaging between $500 and $800 above standard models.  But in some cases, the savings on fuel may be as little as $20 per year.  And, in some cases, consumers wind up sacrificing further in terms of cheaper interiors and poor road dynamics.

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Hybrid Helper: New EPA Website Calculates Fuel Savings, Payback Period

Changing the equation.

by on May.18, 2012

The calculator shows most drivers will need 5 years to recover the added cost of the Toyota Prius C.

The recent run-up in fuel prices led to a surge in demand for hybrids like the Toyota Prius, which has been selling at record levels. Yet sales of gas-electric vehicles still lag well behind what proponents keep forecasting, accounting for barely 3% of the overall U.S. new vehicle market.

Why?  Well, that’s a matter of some debate, but for many potential buyers the issue is one of cost.  While there are a few models that carry no premium for their advanced powertrains – such as the Lincoln MKZ – most hybrids are more expensive than comparable models using gas power alone.  In some cases, the premium can be substantial, $5,000 or more.

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And so, while those hybrids might quickly save you money on gas, it can take years to break even on your up-front investment – what industry types call the “payback period.”

Or will it? A new calculator created by the National Transportation Research Center at Oak Ridge National Laboratory is designed to make it easy to calculate your fuel savings – and determine the payback period.

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Sales Strong, Toyota Ramping Up Prius C Production

Maker moves 1,200 of the new hybrids in first 5 days.

by on Mar.21, 2012

Buoyed by near-record fuel prices, the new Toyota Prius C is exceeding initial sales expectations.

Toyota’s new Prius C is proving to be the little hybrid that could – and that’s leading the automaker to ramp up production of the newest member of its Prius “family.”

The C is a compact gas-electric model that went on sale earlier this month, joining the original Prius hatchback and the larger Prius V introduced last year – with a plug-in version of the original Prius to follow later this year.

With a base price of $19,710, the Prius C is the least-expensive full hybrid on the market and the only compact to share the familiar Prius badge.  That’s significant in a market that has – despite near-record fuel prices – so far been reluctant to embrace hybrids, the technology last year accounting for less than 3% of total U.S. new vehicle sales, but the Prius badge emblazoned on one of every two hybrids purchased in the country.

(Click Here for our Toyota Prius C  review.)

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The timing of the Prius C launch could not have been better, analysts say, and the new model generated 1,200 sales in just its first five days on the market – albeit many of those customers had placed orders some time back and were simply waiting for delivery.  While it remains to be seen if the momentum will be maintained, Toyota appears to be quite optimistic.

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Toyota Rolls Out new Prius C Hybrid and Reveals NS4 Concept Plug-In

The next three years critical to win consumer support for battery power.

by on Jan.10, 2012

The next few years will be critical if the auto industry hopes to win popular support for new battery-based powertrain technology – rather than just having it mandated by government fiat, said Jim Lentz, Toyota’s top U.S. executive.

Lentz spoke during a well-attended news conference where the Japanese automaker outlined its electrification strategy while also rolling out a pair of new battery-based vehicles.

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The new Toyota Prius C is the latest member of a growing family of conventional gas-electric models sharing the nameplate of the world’s most popular hybrid.  But Lentz also revealed a more advanced plug-in hybrid, the Toyota NS4 Concept, that could reach market later in the decade.

The new subcompact Prius C will come to market about a year after Toyota launched a midsize spin-off dubbed the Prius V.  “If the larger Prius V stands for versatility, the Prius C stands for City,” the executive explained.

Toyota reveals the new NS4 Concept, a dedicated plug-in hybrid prototype.

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