Prius's story begins in the late 1990s when Toyota embarked on a mission to create a vehicle that could minimise the environmental impact of a daily commute. Released in 1997 in Japan and in 2000 worldwide as the "car for the 21st century," Prius is the world's first mass-produced hybrid car, designed to run on both gasoline and electricity.
Over the years, Toyota continued to redesign and improve the Prius, with every generation boasting better fuel efficiency, more feature-packed interiors, and more advanced technology.
By 2015, Toyota unveiled the fourth generation XW50 Prius, which in many ways, continued the legacy of its predecessors while pushing the envelope of what a hybrid car could offer. In 2018, the fourth-generation Prius received a facelift.
We took the opportunity to test drive a 2019 XW50 Prius for a test drive, courtesy of AB Drive. Let's just say the car was not as boring as the petrolheads perceive it to be.
Although a fifth-generation Prius is already available globally, this fourth generation is undoubtedly the most successful model in the local market.
One of the most striking changes for the 2019 Prius was its design.
Toyota retained its aggressive and modern exterior design of the XW50 generation, which included sharp lines and angular dimensions. However, now it comes with new headlights and taillight housing. The design choices were probably taken to improve the Prius's aerodynamics, further contributing to its impressive fuel efficiency. The new shape reduced wind resistance and enhanced stability, which is reflected in its fuel economy. As per users, the Prius can easily do 15 kilometres per litre in the busy Dhaka streets with hypermiling economy ratings going up to 35 kilometres per litre!
Under the hood, the 2019 Prius features an updated version of Toyota's Hybrid Synergy Drive system. The same 1800cc four-cylinder 2ZR-FXE engine working alongside an electric motor, now has a newly adopted lithium-ion battery allowing for improved efficiency and quicker acceleration. Combined, the powertrain can deliver 121 horsepower and a smoother, quieter driving experience.
Initially, the car responds pretty well going up to 60 km/h using the electric motor only, unless the throttle is pressed hard enough for the engine to activate. After about 80km/h, the acceleration rate significantly drops as power is delivered completely from the engine. The electric motor gets activated again whenever the foot is removed from the accelerator or when the brakes are applied.
When it comes to handling, the Prius felt pretty stable at the front. However, my passengers had a different opinion. From the back, the photographer complained that the suspensions were on the softer side and he felt all the curves the road had, claiming it was not his most comfortable ride. Considering the road conditions in Bangladesh, perhaps the low-profile tires and large 17-inch rims of this 'S-Touring' package might not be the ideal setup. That being said, the fuel efficiency more than makes up for it.
Inside the cabin, the 2019 Prius definitely offers a more upscale and spacious environment than competitors at its price. The materials are of high quality and the improved design creates a comfortable and ergonomic interior. Toyota introduced a moderately sized 7-inch touchscreen for the infotainment system in most trims, offering features like navigation, smartphone integration and a suite of advanced safety technologies.
Speaking of safety, the Prius also included the Toyota Safety Sense P package as standard on all trims, which added features like adaptive cruise control, lane departure warning, and automatic emergency braking. These advanced safety technologies were a testament to Toyota's commitment to not only eco-friendly driving but also the well-being of its drivers and passengers.
Overall, the 2019 Toyota Prius continues its legacy of segment-leading fuel efficiency, reliability, and eco-friendliness, while introducing more captivating ergonomics and improved technology.
Indeed it turned out to be the icon of eco-friendly vehicles and has left a never-ending mark on the automotive industry. Born as the "car for the 21st century" out of growing environmental awareness and the need for more fuel-efficient vehicles, the Prius has not only changed the way we think about electric cars but also set an example for the development of hybrid technology.
Engine: 1800cc 2ZR-FXE
Power: 121 bhp
Torque: 142 Nm
Price: Tk30 Lakh