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Toyota Prius (XW30)

The Toyota Prius is a compact liftback that has been produced by Toyota. Toyota debuted the third generation Prius (2010 US model year) at the January 2009 North American International Auto Show,[6] and sales began in Japan on May 18, 2009. Replacing the XW20 series, the XW30 represents the third generation of the Toyota Prius.[7] Its new body design is more aerodynamic, with a claimed drag coefficient of Cd=0.25. An underbody rear fin helps stabilize the vehicle at higher speeds. Since its launch in 2009, the third-generation model has sold about 1,688,000 units worldwide.[8]

Toyota Prius (XW30)
2010 Toyota Prius front.JPG
ProductionMarch 2009 – 2015
Model years2010–2015
Body and chassis
ClassCompact car
Body style5-door liftback
LayoutFront-engine, front-wheel-drive
PlatformToyota New MC platform
Transmission1-speed planetary gear
Battery1.3 kWh Nickel-metal hydride[5]
Wheelbase2,700 mm (106.3 in)
  • 2010-2011: 4,460 mm (175.6 in)
  • 2011–2015: 4,481 mm (176.4 in)
Width1,745 mm (68.7 in)
  • 2010-2011: 1,480 mm (58.3 in)
  • 2011–2015: 1,491 mm (58.7 in)
Curb weight1,379 kg (3,040.2 lb)
PredecessorToyota Prius (XW20)
SuccessorToyota Prius (XW50)


Toyota states that it filed 1000 patents during the development of the XW30 Prius.[9] The concept of the powertrain largely carried over from the previous XW20 model, although the engine displacement was increased to 1.8 litres and the transaxle was changed to the THS III. Disc brakes replaced the North American model's rear drum brakes.


For the Prius, Toyota used a new range of plant-derived ecological bioplastics made from the cellulose in wood or grass instead of petroleum. The two principal crops are kenaf (a member of the hibiscus family and related to cotton and okra) and ramie, commonly known as China grass and one of the strongest natural fibres, similar to flax in absorbency and density. Toyota says this is a particularly timely breakthrough for plant-based eco-plastics because 2009 is the United Nations' International Year of Natural Fibres, which covers kenaf and ramie.[10]

Many motoring reviewers praised the 3rd generation for its improved handling in corners and more supple ride over the previous generation.[11]

In August 2010, Toyota began sales of an onboard device designed to automatically emit a synthesized sound of an electric motor when the Prius is operating as an electric vehicle at speeds up to approximately 25 kilometres per hour (16 mph). The device will be available in Japan for retrofitting on the third-generation Prius at a price of ¥12,600 (~US$150) including the consumption tax. The alert rises and falls in pitch according to the vehicle's speed, thus helping indicate the vehicle's proximity and movement to nearby pedestrians. The device meets the Ministry of Land, Infrastructure, Transport and Tourism issued in January 2010 for hybrid and other near-silent vehicles.[12]



The 1.8-liter four-cylinder gasoline engine (previously 1.5 liters) generates 73 kW; 99 PS (98 hp), and with the added power of the electric motor 60 kW; 81 PS (80 hp), total horsepower is 100 kW (134 hp) (previously 110 hp). The larger engine displacement allows for increased torque, reducing engine speeds (rpm), which increases fuel economy at highway speeds. With an electric water pump, the Prius engine is the first production engine that requires no accessory belts, which also further improves fuel economy.[13] The electric motors and other components of the hybrid powertrain are also smaller and more efficient.[14] Toyota estimates the new inverter, motor and transaxle are 20 percent lighter. It has a 1.3 kWh nickel-metal hydride (NiMH) battery.[5]

ZVW35: plug-in versionEdit

Prius Plug-in Hybrid exhibited at the 2011 Frankfurt Motor Show
Prius Plug-in Hybrid

The Prius Plug-In Concept was shown at the October 2009 Tokyo Motor Show, the 2009 Frankfurt Motor Show, and the 2009 LA Auto Show. Toyota produced a limited number of Prius Plug-in Hybrids for a global demonstration program. The plug-in demonstration version is based on a third generation Toyota Prius outfitted with 5.2 kWh lithium-ion batteries,[15][16] with an all-electric range of 21 km (13 mi).[17] The global demonstration program involving 600 pre-production test cars began in late 2009 and took place in Japan, Europe, Canada, China, Australia, New Zealand and the United States.[18][19][20]

The production version of the Prius Plug-in Hybrid was unveiled at the 2011 Frankfurt Motor Show. Modifications from the demonstration vehicle to improve efficiency allow the production plug-in to achieve an all-electric range of 23 km (14.3 mi) with a smaller 4.4-kWh lithium-ion battery.[21] The Prius PHV was released in Japan in January 2012, deliveries in the United States began in late February 2012, and in the European market in June 2012.[22][23][24]


Euro NCAP test results
Toyota Prius 1.8VVT 'Sol', RHD (2009)[25]
Test Points %
Adult occupant: 32 88%
Child occupant: 40 82%
Pedestrian: 24 68%
Safety assist: 6 86%

The IIHS rated the 2010 Prius as Good except for side-impact "structure/safety cage", which was rated Acceptable.[26] In EuroNCAP testing, the Prius was given an overall rating of five out of five stars[25]


On February 9, 2010, Toyota announced a voluntary global recall of third generation 2010 Prius models manufactured from the current model's introduction through late January.[27][28] Affected models, including 133,000 Prius vehicles in the U.S. and 52,000 in Europe, are to receive an anti-lock brake software update to fix brake response over rough roads,[citation needed] following reports of delayed braking response on certain surface conditions.[29][30] Apple co-founder and Prius collector Steve Wozniak was also quoted by media outlets regarding a possible cruise control issue on one of his several Priuses, where the steps for "upping the speed" using the Dynamic Radar Cruise Control system allegedly caused unintended acceleration.[31] Wozniak later maintained that he was misquoted, but did have an individual vehicle and customer service issue,[31] while auto journalists and other Prius drivers suggested user error.[32][33] On March 8, 2010, a publicized incident of alleged Prius acceleration in San Diego was later suspected to be a hoax or not repeatable.[34][35][36] The manufacturer shared that 713,000 Prius in North America, 997,000 in Japan, another 130,000 in Europe and the rest in other regions are being recalled.[37]

On February 14, 2014, Toyota announced a global recall of third generation Prius. The recall is related to a software fault having been identified in the hybrid-control system which might cause the hybrid drive inverter transistors to overheat. This will cause the car to go into a limited performance mode (i.e. limp home mode) or may even stall the car entirely.[38] Owners will be notified with a letter to rectify the problem for free of charge or reimbursement for anyone who was charged to rectify the problem prior to recall.[39]

In October 2018, Toyota issued a worldwide safety recall for about 2.4 million Prius vehicles, including 807,000 U.S. cars. The recall applies to two models - 2010-2014 Prius and 2012-2014 Prius V - that, when experiencing system issues, might fail to enter the fail-safe mode, causing the vehicle to lose power and stall. While power steering and braking should continue to function, a stall at higher speeds could increase crash risk.[40][41]

Market and productionEdit

The Toyota Prius XW30 is built at their Tsutsumi, Japan plant,[1] as well as the Chachoengsao, Thailand plant .[citation needed] At the launch of the XW30, Toyota stated its goal of selling about 400,000 Prius units annually worldwide,[9] and 180,000 units in the U.S. by 2010.[42] As a result, in May 2009 production was increased to 50,000 units per month or 600,000 annual units to help meet higher than projected demand.[43]

In early 2010, Toyota considered adding a monthly production of 6,000 at the Motomachi factory, in central Japan, the plant that built the first-generation Prius in 1997.[citation needed] However, as customers' wait time in Japan shortened from eight months at launch to three months, and sales in the United States dropped 40 percent in February 2010 from October 2009 following concerns about Toyota vehicles' safety, Toyota had to reduce the monthly production by 10 percent to 45,000 units a month in March 2010.[44]

In China, Toyota originally planned to start producing the third generation Prius in 2010 (through its joint venture FAW-Toyota). However, due to lack of government incentives[45] and worries about losing tech secrets, this plan was abandoned.[46]


In Japan, it is reported that Toyota cut the price of the Prius from ¥2,331,000 to ¥2,050,000 to compete with the Honda Insight.[47]

The XW30 Prius was awarded the 2009 Japan Car of the Year.[48]

In South Korea, Toyota has marketed the Prius since 2014 as a hybrid taxi since Hyundai and Kia at the time did not manufacture or sell any hybrid taxis.[49] In 2019, it retailed at 26,000,000 (US$25,451 at the August 2019 exchange rate).[49] This is part of their strategy in entering the taxi industry, which is dominated by Korean car manufacturers.[50] It earned some good reception with taxi drivers due to its fuel economy.[51]


The official UK fuel consumption data, provided by the Department for Transport, rates the Prius as: 72.4 mpg‑imp (3.90 L/100 km; 60.3 mpg‑US) combined. Nineteen other car models match or exceed that figure as of February 2011.[52][53]

According to the UK Department for Transport in February 2011, the third-generation Prius launched in the UK in August 2009 emits 89 g/km CO2, the same as the Škoda Fabia (Hatch and Estate), the Volkswagen Polo and the Toyota Auris Hybrid, and less than all other cars except the Smart fortwo which emits 86 g/km.[54]

North AmericaEdit

In the US market, only the Prius Two, Three, Four and Five were offered. Among the new standard features of the 2010 Prius, Toyota introduced three optional user-selectable driving modes: EV mode for electric-only low-speed operation, Eco mode for best fuel efficiency, and Power mode for better performance.[55][56] The premium Prius Five model's Advanced Technology Package included the Premium HDD Navigation System, plus the Head-up Display, Dynamic Radar Cruise Control, Pre-Collision System and Lane Keep Assist. The Pre-Collision System retracted the front seatbelts and applies the brakes in certain conditions when it determines that a crash is unavoidable. Lane Keep Assist helped the driver stay within the lane.[57] The US 2012 model year included Toyota's Vehicle Proximity Notification System (VPNS), which emitted an artificial engine noise to alert pedestrians, the blind, and others of the vehicle's presence due to significant noise reduction typical of a hybrid vehicle traveling at low speeds in all-electric mode.[58]

Furthermore the Prius comes standard with 15-inch alloy wheels, Vehicle Stability Control and interior amenities including cruise control, 6-speaker audio, Toyota's keyless entry/ignition Smart Key System and a unique Touch Tracer Display designed to help the driver's eyes stay on the road when using the steering-wheel-mounted climate and audio controls. The US Prius offers several optional packages:

  • Navigation Package: that includes a voice-activated touch-screen DVD-based navigation system and an 8-speaker JBL audio system with XM satellite radio, MP3/WMA playback capability, Bluetooth and backup camera. The Prius in Japan is equipped with G-Book as of May 18, 2009.[59]
  • Solar Roof Package: includes the Navigation Package and adds a power tilt/slide moonroof along with a solar powered ventilation system that uses an electric fan to help keep the vehicle cooler when parked under the sun by venting the interior's heated air with the outdoors. The solar roof was originally intended to assist in charging the vehicle's battery, but the system was configured to only power ventilation when it was found that the battery-charging configuration created electromagnetic interference that affected the radio.[60] A new remote air-conditioning feature allows the driver to activate the air conditioner prior to entering the vehicle.
  • Advanced Technology Package: includes the Navigation Package while adding a Pre-Collision System, Dynamic Radar Cruise Control, Lane Keep Assist and Intelligent Parking Assist.
  • Plus Performance Package: announced in June 2011. This package includes a seven-piece body kit, 17-inch alloy wheels, special badging, and rear anti-sway bar. The car was also lowered by 28 mm (1.1 in) at the front and 33 mm (1.3 in) at the rear.[61]

Other options include Safety Connect, while LED headlamps come standard on the Prius V trim.[62]

In the U.S., the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) tested the XW30 based on the revised 2007 testing procedures, resulting in the following scores: 51 mpg‑US (4.6 L/100 km; 61 mpg‑imp) city driving, 48 mpg‑US (4.9 L/100 km; 58 mpg‑imp) highway driving, 50 mpg‑US (4.7 L/100 km; 60 mpg‑imp) combined.[63] The Prius XW30 was the most efficient car powered purely by liquid fuel available in the U.S., based on the official rating.[64][65] Only the discontinued first-generation Honda Insight attained higher fuel efficiency: 62 mpg‑US (3.8 L/100 km; 74 mpg‑imp) (for manual/no air conditioner option).

In the United States the EPA measures a vehicle's air-borne pollution based on hydrocarbons, nitrogen oxides, carbon monoxide, particulate matter and formaldehyde before assigning them a score.[66] In most states the XW30 Prius is rated Tier II Bin 3.[67]

In 2009, Toyota Prius experienced two consecutive year over year sales decrease to 139,682 units in the U.S., from 181,221 units in 2007.[68]

2011 faceliftEdit

In 2011 (for the 2012 model year), the third-generation Prius Liftback receives modest style and equipment changes. The exterior changes include updated headlamps, revised tail lamps, plus a distinctive front fascia and bumper. The Prius can be equipped with an updated infotainment system featuring the optional Toyota Entune suite of connectivity features. Other updates include a 6.1-inch touch-screen, AM/FM CD player unit, a USB port for iPod connectivity, auxiliary input jack, Bluetooth hands-free phone capability and streaming audio.[57]

For the U.S. market only the Prius Two, Three, Four and Five will be offered. The Prius Two gains new 15-inch wheel covers and standard LED Daytime Running Lights (DRL). The Prius Three adds a standard three-door Smart Key entry system, and the Prius Four features standard auto on/off headlamps. The Prius Four also provides enhanced comfort with new SofTex-trimmed seats and an eight-way power adjustable driver's seat. The premium Prius Five model's Advanced Technology Package includes the Premium HDD Navigation System, plus the Head-up Display, Dynamic Radar Cruise Control, Pre-Collision System and Lane Keep Assist. The Pre-Collision System retracts the front seatbelts and applies the brakes in certain conditions when it determines that a crash is unavoidable. Lane Keep Assist can help the driver stay within the lane.[57]

The U.S. 2012 model year includes Toyota's Vehicle Proximity Notification System (VPNS), which is designed to alert pedestrians, the blind, and others of the vehicle's presence due to significant noise reduction typical of a hybrid vehicle traveling at low speeds in all-electric mode. This type of warning device is mandated by the Pedestrian Safety Enhancement Act of 2010. The warning sound is generated by externally mounted speakers and it activates automatically only at speeds below about 24 km/h (15 mph).[58]

Pre-facelift styling

Post-facelift styling


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