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Toyota cuts Prius pricing – again

Price chop: The Toyota Prius hybrid gets another price cut, with the range now kicking off at $33,990 plus on-roads.

Prius price down another $1000 as Toyota ushers in midlife facelift for hybrid icon

27 Mar 2012

TOYOTA has cut another $1000 from its Prius price, as part of a midlife makeover that brings a range of extra standard features as well as cosmetic and mechanical upgrades to its third-generation hybrid icon.

Pricing for the 2012 Prius now opens at $33,990 plus on-road costs – $3000 less than the larger Australian-made Camry Hybrid’s starting price and $6000 less than the $39,990 pricetag of the original Prius launched more than a decade ago in October 2001.

The $1000 cut is the second Prius price reduction in less than a year, following a substantial $5000 entry-level rollback to $34,990 – and an even larger $7510 price cut for the flagship Prius i-Tech – last April, when Toyota’s luxury brand launched the mechanically similar Lexus CT200h hybrid hatch at $39,990.

Despite the latest Prius price slide, the world’s oldest and best-selling hybrid still costs $4000 more than Honda’s direct rival, the Insight hybrid (from $29,990), as well as $10,000 more than Toyota’s smaller new Prius C hybrid hatch (from $23,990) and at least $12,000 more than most conventional petrol-powered small cars, including the closely related Corolla (from $20,990).

The move follows a disastrous year of Prius sales in Australia last year, when sales were down by some 49 per cent to just 822 (for a monthly average of only 68.5) – less than 20 per cent of the 4500 annual sales Toyota forecast for 2010 when the MkIII Prius was launched here in July 2009.

8 center imageSales of the Melbourne-made Camry Hybrid have also fallen well short of expectations, but Toyota says it remains committed to hybrid technology, which remains a vital part of the company’s DNA.

“Toyota and Prius are the pioneers of hybrid technology, which will play an increasingly important role in reducing petrol usage and cutting carbon emissions,” said Toyota Australia’s executive director sales and marketing Matthew Callachor.

“Prius continues to embrace the spirit of innovation while reaffirming Toyota’s commitment to providing excellent environmental performance and fuel efficiency.

“This ground-breaking technology is the future of cars, and more hybrids are heading to Australia – both from Toyota and other manufacturers.

“Prius has laid the groundwork for hybrid cars to be immersed into the mainstream and the latest improvements make it an even stronger proposition.”More than 2.5 million Prius vehicles have been sold globally, including over 17,000 in Australia, and Toyota’s hybrid model family will be expanded by this month’s compact Prius C city-car, followed in May by the Prius V – the world’s first full-hybrid seven-seater.

As we reported last September, when the facelifted Prius made its global debut at the Frankfurt motor show a few days before going on sale in the US, the 2012 Prius brings fresh frontal styling and a range of technical changes to improve ride quality, steering feel, handling dynamics and standard equipment levels, but no increase in efficiency.

Most noticeably, all Prius variants now feature a new front bumper with LED daytime-running lamps, larger trapezoidal lower grille and repositioned foglights, plus new tail-lights and the addition of two exterior paint colours – Dynamic Blue and Scarlet – bringing the total to eight.

While the styling changes make the Prius 20mm longer overall (but do not change its outstanding aerodynamic drag coefficient of just 0.25Cd), Toyota says all Prius models also benefit from a stiffer body and changes to the suspension and steering column, improving ride comfort, handling and steering feel.

In addition to a host of interior revisions, the entry-level version scores a reversing camera with 6.1-inch EGA colour display, new-design 15-inch alloy wheels with covers, power retractable mirrors and an eight-speaker JBL ‘Green Edge’ sound system.

The top-shelf Prius i-Tech, pricing for which remains unchanged at $45,990, gains 17-inch alloy wheels, a solar moonroof, eight-way power driver’s seat, seven-inch VGA colour screen, hard-drive satellite-navigation, digital radio and new leather-accented interior trim.

Both Prius models also offer more supportive new front seats, a centre console cup-holder, softer-touch interior surfaces to improve perceived quality, darker new materials throughout and silver inserts on the centre console and air-vents, while the hybrid system start button is now blue and the 12V/USB/AUX terminal has been moved to the front of the console for easier access.

Other changes include a sharper image resolution for the multi-information display, with new functions including a monthly fuel consumption record, a rolling archive of five months’ data and a savings calculator, which records fuel consumption and running cost savings based on economy targets and fuel prices nominated by the driver.

Mechanically, Toyota says the Prius body has been made stiffer by increasing the number of welding spots and reinforcements, allowing for a softer suspension tune that improves ride comfort “without diminishing the car’s dynamic abilities”.

More rigid steering column bracing is said to improve steering feel and additional sound-proofing aims to reduce cabin noise, vibration and harshness levels.

Standard features continue to include seven airbags, stability control, ABS brakes, active front head restraints, a head-up display and the Toyota ‘touch tracer’ system that duplicates steering wheel audio and information control displays on the instrument panel.

There are no changes to the petrol-electric drive system, which continues to deliver maximum power of 100kW from its 74kW 1.8-litre Atkinson Cycle petrol engine, 650-volt electric motor/generator and – like the smaller Prius C and larger Prius V five-seater, but not the Prius V seven-seater, which employs more advanced lithium-ion battery technology – a nickel-metal hydride traction battery.

There is no sign yet of the Prius Plug-in for Australia, but the regular Prius continues to offer a low-speed full-EV driving mode, in which the vehicle can operate at up to about 50km/h for one or two kilometres, depending on the state of charge.

Combined fuel consumption and CO2 emissions figures of 3.9 litres per 100km (4.0L/100km with 17-inch wheels) and 89 grams per kilometre therefore also remain the same.

Toyota continues to offer fixed-price servicing for (non-government and rental) Prius customers for the first three years or 60,000km of ownership, capped at $130 for each standard service.

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