Toyota celebrates 20 years since its innovative Prius Hybrid Special Edition 2020 launch. We look at how the Prius has evolved over the past two decades and where it is heading today.
The first “Tesla” was the Prius
Long before “fun mode” or “autopilot”, it signals to your neighbors that you care more about the environment than it means to drive a slow, fun Toyota hatchback. Over the years, the Prius has carried a lot of meaningful luggage, but there are a lot of first-rate hybrids of “holy of you” positions and slow acceleration.
Not only was the Prius a huge success, selling nearly 2 million units in the United States and more than 6 million units worldwide in its twenty years of production, it was also without the bells and whistles and no madness 0 to 60 times that of modern electric cars. . Instead, Prius has shown the world (and the automakers) what electricity can do in modern four-wheeled transportation with an emphasis on practicality.
A (new) Toyota Way
Toyota is not known for its daring actions. Instead, the company is built on the idea of taking a design and iterating that over and over, improving that design and the manufacturing processes that surround it endlessly (also known as keizen). This is how our current generation J200 Landcruiser is now in its thirteenth year without an overhaul.
Prius was the start for Toyota. It was a bold leap in the electrical business that aims to guide the company as it enters the 21st century. Looking back, the Prius may have had a greater impact on the rest of the auto industry, especially over the past decade, compared to Toyota, where the company’s culture is still hierarchical. But all major automakers, from Ford to Honda to Audi and beyond, now offer some kind of hybrid option in their lineups.
The first generation 1997-2003
The Prius spent its first three years in Japan, making its debut in North and South America, Australia, Europe and the rest of Asia in 2000. It was equipped with a 1.5-liter, 70-hp four-cylinder engine mated to a 44-hp electric motor. According to current EPA standards, the original Prius had 42 mpg city and 41 mpg highway. The original Prius was a compact car, smaller than the later Prius, and was the only generation to have been built as a sedan.
The second generation 2004-09
The Prius has received major changes with the 2004 model year. It gets a new hybrid system (Toyota Hybrid System II), more space (now 6 inches larger) and a new body style (now hatchback). upload). The engine was the same but with improved efficiency, giving the Prius 48 city and 45 mpg highway. The new “triangle” chassis pattern has also improved aerodynamics and thus fuel efficiency. Visually, it started the Prius as many of us know today.
Third generation 2010-15
The third generation Prius received a new, larger engine, now 1.8 liters. The powertrain has also been achieving efficiency gains, with an improvement in 51 mpg city and 48 mpg highway. The Prius also features new driving modes, an EV-only mode for low-speed driving, an Eco mode for optimum efficiency, and a Power mode, finally, for more power. The aerodynamics have also been improved, adding a double wave design to the roof.
In 2011, the Prius V and Prius C added new chassis options for the Prius. The Prius V was a larger sedan, somewhere between a wagon and a small crossover, and offered 50% more cargo capacity than the traditional Prius. The Prius C marked a return to the dimensions of the first-generation with a compact version, more than 19 inches shorter than the typical Prius. It was known as Prius Aqua in Japan.
Fourth generation 2016-present
For the fourth and current generation of Prius, Toyota built it on the new global architecture platform from Toyota at the time, and improvements in battery technology raised the combined fuel efficiency to 56 mpg. Offerings have also expanded to include a plug-in hybrid version, Prius Prime. The Prime offered 25 miles of electric-only range and a total range of 640 miles on a single gas tank.
In 2018, Prius received cosmetic updates for the first time, including new LED headlights, a new dual suspension system and a new all-wheel drive option.
To celebrate the twenty years since the Prius was launched in the United States, Toyota has announced the Prius ‘2020 Edition’. This special edition is based on the XLE FWD edition and will be available in Supersonic Red or Wind Chill Pearl. Toyota says the 2020 version will have a black interior, including a black gear shift knob and fumigated air-conditioning vents.
The exterior appearance of the 2020 edition will also be emphasized. The rear spoiler will be matched in color, and the headlights will have ‘dimming’ components and trim with B-pillars and mirror caps. The wheels will be of 17-inch alloy.
And if you want to remind your passengers that this is not just a Prius, there will be a “2020” badge on the key chain and floor mats. The 2020 version will be truly exclusive, and only 2020 is left.
Beyond the Prius
Although the popularity and sales of Prius have declined in recent years, its influence is being felt throughout the Toyota lineup and in the automotive world. More and more cars, crossovers and even pickups are now adopting electrification to increase fuel efficiency and increase horsepower. Toyota added three new hybrid options to its lineup this summer with a plug-in hybrid version of the Sienna, RAV4 Prime plug-in hybrid and the new Toyota Venza hybrid.
The Prius proved that companies could succeed with a relatively slow, and let’s be honest, oddly styled car so long as it made up the difference with stellar fuel economy and surprising practicality. It was a lesson that took the rest of the automotive world a few years to fully appreciate, but the bridge to a cleaner, more energy efficient future that current hybrids and EVs represent wouldn’t be nearly as far along if it wasn’t for the Toyota Prius.