All New 2017 Prius Four The Original Hybrid is Still The Best

 

In 2003, I was on the Motor Trend jury that selected the 2004 second generation Prius as the 2004 Motor Trend Car Of The Year.  I will always remember that it was a heated contest between the “rally twins” the Mitsubishi Evo and Subaru WRX STi and hybrid Toyota.  But in the end, it was a bold move to choose the hybrid game changer. Today, is not such a big deal but going back more than deacde it was a big deal.

Fast forward to 2017 recently I had the opportunity to sample the all new 4th generation Prius for the first time.  The’s 2017 Prius hybrid embodies the original car’s same basic concept, that being an internal-combustion engine coupled to an electric motor, the latest version is both stylistically and technologically leaps and bounds better. The latest Prius now has lots of competition, but it remains the segment’s fuel-economy leader and is bolstered by a new model, the Prius Prime plug-in hybrid. Able to travel up to 25 miles solely on electric power, the Prime offers one more Prius competitor to challenge Ford’s C-Max Energi and Chevy’s Volt. With its slick new styling, refined interior, improved chassis and new standard suite of driver-assist technologies, the 2017 Toyota Prius remains the gold standard in hybrid automobiles.

Despite its small size and lightweight frame, Toyota’s 2017 Prius hybrid is amazingly rigid. A rigid chassis allows for a better suspension, which endows the Prius with surprising agility. Body roll in the corners is kept to a minimum and the steering, although not on par with the Mazda3 or Honda Civic, is light and precise.  I found the overalll driving experience to best to date of any Prius model to date.  .  A couple of minor egonormic areas of improvement include giving some adjstablibilty to height of the heads up color sisplay, and changing the location of the frony heated seat switches which now are located  too far ahead in the center console for my liking/

The Prius’ brakes are strong and capable and despite the skinny fel economy friendly tires hauled the Pruis down from speeds much better than anticapated. .. On the highway, the 2017 Prius hybrid delivers a smooth ride and a quiet cabin with very little wind or road noise evident. One downside is the Prius’ front seats that sit low to the floor, making entry and exit somewhat of a challenge for some drivers..

Although the shape seems familiar, with the same wedgy design theme, there’s more drama in the 2017 Toyota Prius compared to previous generations, which looked a little boring by comparison. Longer, lower and wider than its predecessors, with more character creases in the bodyside panels, the 4th-generation Prius has a strong curbside presence, as well as a distinctive going-away view. The lower hoodline contributes to improved aerodynamics the coefficient of drag (Cd) goes from 0.25 to 0.24and also enhances the driver’s forward sight lines.  That is amazing exotic sports car like Cd number.  I not a huge fan of the face of the vehicle but all other styling angles are grearly improved.

Some folks don’t care for the rear tailight treatment I myself like it and thinks it works quite well with the theme of the overall car.

The feature list for the basic Prius Two makes it clear that “basic” does not mean “stripper” for this car. Dual 4.2-inch customizable color information displays, 6.2-inch color touch screen, 6-speaker AM/FM/CD Entune audio, 2.0 USB port, Bluetooth streaming, Siri eyes-free, hands-free phone link, voice recognition, 3-mode driver pre-sets (EV, ECO, Power), cruise control, tilt/telescope steering column, cargo area tonneau cover, rearview camera, stability control, traction control and eight airbags. Toyota’s Safety Sense P includes full-speed dynamic cruise control, capable of bringing the car to a complete stop.

The interior on Toyota’s Prius Hybrid for 2017 employs two 4.2-inch color info screens with primary instrumentation parked atop the dashboard. Higher trims also include a color head-up display, as well as pedestrian detection. The instrument screens ride the center of the dashboard, reducing eye redirection, according to Toyota, though some think otherwise. Interior materials including the new synthetic leather was extra comfortable looking and feels quite rich. A low center-console height gives the front compartment a more open feeling, and the rear compartment feels roomier despite a very small reduction in interior volume and lower roofline compared to the previous generation.  Yes as always it has that funky dash monted transmission selector I hold out hope that genaration five will change that feature

My Prius Four model had the Advanced Technology package adds a power tilt/slide moon roof with a sliding sunshade, and the color head-up display. The Premium Convenience Package includes a 7-inch touch screen, navigation, Entune 10-speaker JBL audio, advanced voice recognition, as well as the standard Prius Two and Three features, and a good many others. Premium Convenience is limited to Prius Four and Prius Four Touring trims.

Toyota’s Hybrid Synergy Drive has been adapted to a number of the company’s vehicles. It’s also been licensed to other carmakers. The latest electric motor is rated at 71 horsepower and 120 lb-ft of torque. Combined system output is down 13 horsepower at 121 horsepower compared to generation three, but efficiency is up. On all but the base trim, the electrical side of the powertrain is supported by a lithium-ion battery pack.

Fuel economy was fanatstic, rated at 54 city and 50 mpg highway with a 52 MPG combined number which is quite impressive. This is the best Prius to date hands down. My well euqipeed test vehicle was priced at 32,216.00 making for a great value as well.

The Long Drive Rankings

Front Engine-FWD Automatic

Highlights

Value

Fuel Economy

Comfortable Front seats

Lowlights

A  little slow 0-60 mph

The Long Drive Rankings 1 Low 10 High

Exterior Styling 7
Interior styling and quality 7

Handling 5

Braking 6

Fuel Economy 10
Performance 5
Trunk-Cargo Capacity 8

Audio System 6

Value 10

 

The original Crossover Vehicle is still the Best…. Lexus RX-450H All New for 2016

By Bob Long

The Lexus RX is the crossover that started a whole new category of vehicle when first introduced in 1998.   The first generation RX 300 laid the ground work for one of hottest segments in the car buying world today the luxury crossover vehicle.

For the 2016 model year The Lexus RX is all-new.. Now in its 4th generation, this mid size luxury crossover features a bold new exterior design, revamped interior, and a bump in power over its predecessor. The vehicle has grown slightly and offers a lot of cool features.

Over the years the RX has become the Lexus brands best-selling vehicle and a benchmark for rivals such as the MDX from Acura, Mercedes GLE, Cadillac SRX  and the MKX from Lincoln.  My test vehicle of the week is a beautiful front wheel drive RX 450 H which combines a powerful  V-6 gasoline engine with electric hybrid drive for great fuel economy.

Styling wise Lexus calls the new  2016 RX as a “dramatic re-imagining”of the benchmark crossover.  In fact it is both bold and aggressive from many angles.  Keeping in step with the rest of Lexus lineup the RX wears the brands signature spindle” grille up front, fluid headlight housings with LED lights, a high belt line, and the 2016 RX’s most divisive element: a flowing, blacked-out C-pillar behind the rear windows. This element makes the Lexus’ roof appear to float. You’ll like it or you won’t. Personally I like the look of the new RX but admit some will find the RX face a bit polarizing.

There are many different favors of the RX but was great to sample the hybrid model for a week.  On the road the RX 450h hybrid model is super smooth and almost imperceptibly switches between gasoline and electric power.  The 450h hybrid pairs a 3.5-liter V6 with a battery-electric powertrain. Like a standard Prius, no plugging in is required, but premium unleaded gasoline is recommended. The 2016 RX 450h has total output of 308 horsepower and delivers great mpg numbers. The  gasoline engine alone cranks out 267 lb-ft of torque.  EPA  city mileage is rated at an impressive 31 MPG with a highway rating of 30 MPG.  Sticker price of my loaded RX450H model came to $60.359.00

Inside the all new RX-450H is great place to spend time.  Beautiful craftsmanship combined with is own unique style. One of the biggest changes for the new 2016 model is gear selector placement, which abandons its long-held position in the center dash to a more traditional spot in the console below. This opens space in the dash for easy-to-access climate and audio controls. The mouse controller just south of the gear selector is easier to operate. The seats are great, and there is plenty of legroom in back.  Cargo space is very impressive, with over 18 cubic feet behind the rear seats. That number expands to over 56 cubic feet with rear seats folded.

The Lexus RX has always been well-equipped, and the latest model is no different. My loaded 450H had the very cool huge 12.3-inch infotainment display, a heated steering wheel, heated/ventilated front seats, the touch-free tailgate, navigation, a treat for audiophiles like myself in the exquisite upgraded Mark Levinson audio system.  My vehicle also had a full color heads up display and the world first  Touch-Free Back Door option makes it go presto by merely placing a hand near the Lexus badge.

Driving the RX 450H is a real pleasure even if you are not hybrid fan. This is one of the best systems out there in the automotive world.  The RX-450H is smooth operator at all speeds much as they have been in previous generations.  The vehicle is: comfortable, quiet and confident. This is an SUV for those who long for a soft ride and serenity, vs. drivers who prefer blasts down twisty roads accompanied by a roaring exhaust note.  Lexus does offer an F Sport model for a more sporty flavor and sheer performance.

Bottom line if you are in the market for a five passenger high fuel economy luxury crossover SUV the all new 2018 Lexus RH-45oH is a grand slam home run.

The Long Drive Rankings

Front Engine-FWD 

 

Highlights

Styling

Luxury Features

Comfort

Fuel economy

 

Lowlights

60K may seem like a lot but is not in 2016

Bold Like it or not front grille

 

Scale 1 low-10 High

Exterior Styling 8

Interior styling and quality 9

Handling 7

Braking 6

Fuel Economy 10

Audio System 9

Performance 6

Trunk-Cargo Capacity 10

Navigation   8