2007 Toyota Prius Performance
The 2007 Prius is an adequate performer that offers a smooth ride, and its hybrid powertrain delivers higher fuel economy and lower emissions. However, many complain of poor acceleration at highway speeds. The Prius won't win any trophies at the race track, but that probably isn't why you'd consider buying one.
Where the Prius did when a trophy is in a head-to-head Motor Trend test with the Honda Civic Hybrid. Although both cars were considered exceptional, Motor Trend finds "Better acceleration, chart-topping sedan mileage, and handling that's better than its typical owners expect make the Prius a rare intersection of petrol miserliness and Tomorrowland fun. And in the welterweight division of our comparison, the winner by a technological knockout."
Other reviewers suggest that the hybrid technology takes a little getting used to for those used to standard gasoline engines. MSN says, "My first impression of the new Prius came from the electric steering, which gave a feeling of steering a scooter as I moved out of a parking space and made a quick U-turn." Automobile Magazine adds, "The lack of an exhaust note under acceleration is eerie at first, but your passengers will appreciate the calm inside. Just be careful of pedestrians -- they may not hear you coming, particularly in parking lots."
Acceleration and Power
The Prius is a front-wheel-drive vehicle that comes standard with a CVT automatic transmission. Its source of power is a conjoining of a gasoline engine and an electric motor, which Toyota calls the Hybrid Synergy Drive. This system is powered by a 76-horsepower, 1.5-liter four-cylinder engine and two electric motors, which produce 67-horsepower. The new 50-kilowatt electric motor operates at up to 500 volts, up from 274 in previous-year models. "This powertrain, along with other advanced features, allows the Prius to deliver higher fuel economy and lower emissions [The Prius is certified as a Super Ultra Low Emission Vehicle in California] compared to regular cars," explains Edmunds. "Under full acceleration, both power sources work together to provide maximum oomph, but under lighter load conditions, such as stop-and-go traffic, the Prius alternates between the two, oftentimes running on battery power alone."
Reviewers are generally pleased with how the system automatically runs on one or both of its power supplies to balance acceleration and fuel economy without having to charge the batteries. MSN says: "No electrical outlets are needed to recharge batteries, contrary to what Toyota says some people think. Rather, the Prius drive system constantly recharges itself."
Experts are mixed on the performance of the drivetrain. The Auto Channel says, "Get in, boot up, and drive. On the road, differences between the Prius and any regular car are minimal." Cars.com adds, "Acceleration from a standstill and for passing and merging is enthusiastic, though it's weaker at higher speeds." The Family Car notes, "The small 4-cylinder engine is noticeable whenever you accelerate, but is never obtrusive. You could hardly hear the engine at all during highway cruising." New Car Test Drive adds, "Standing on the accelerator produces a pleasant surprise. The Prius launches without hesitation thanks to the electric motor's 295 pound-feet of torque from almost a dead standstill." Moreover, "Merging and overtaking at freeways speeds are accomplished with little fuss." Motor Trend also commends the Prius' acceleration, comparing it to a fellow hybrid, the Honda Civic. "On paper, 0-to-60 times of 11.3 seconds for the Civic and 10.5 for the Prius read like the 100-meter results in an MIT/Caltech track meet," its writers note. "Nevertheless, the Toyota feels like the bullet of the two off the line, owing to the torque of a much bigger electric motor."
The fuel economy of the 2007 Toyota Prius pleases all of the reviewers, with most agreeing that it's the most fuel-efficient five-passenger car sold in America. Auto Mall USA says, "All you need to know is that it's a clean, highly fuel-efficient car." According to the EPA, the combo of the electric motors and gasoline engine gets an estimated 48 miles per gallon in the city and 45 miles per gallon on the highway.
"Driving a Prius takes some getting used to since it doesn't have a conventional transmission that shifts gears, but most owners grow to like the car's smooth power delivery," say the experts at Edmunds, after they test drove the sedan. Other reviewers, like those at The Family Car, agree that the automatic switching between power sources can feel odd at first. "In the beginning, while you're familiarizing yourself with the differences, it becomes a bit unnerving when you stop at a light and you notice the engine shut off leaving you in total silence." USA TODAY adds, "Don't believe talk of 'seamless integration' of the gas and electric powerplants. You notice when the gas engine shuts off or kicks in."
Reviewers feel the Prius operates best around town, as opposed to highway driving. Noting that its "frugal drivetrain and modest handling capability make it one of the most tepid midsize cars on the road," Edmunds says that while "the Toyota Prius is no speed demon (zero to 60 mph in about 10.4 seconds)," when "it comes to the kind of daily driving that most drivers encounter, there's more than enough power to get around."
Handling and Braking
Most reviewers find the 2007 Toyota Prius to be fairly agile. Edmunds reports, "Although the 2007 Toyota Prius would make a fine highway companion, the car really shines when driven in the city, where its light steering, tight turning radius and excellent visibility make it easy to park and maneuver through traffic." Road and Travel says the Prius "delivers a seamlessly smooth ride." The Prius "has quick steering, although it has a robotic feel," notes the Chicago Sun Times. Still, the "ride is comfortable and larger tires help provide sporty handling, if the car isn't pressed too hard."
The Prius has an independent MacPherson-strut suspension with a stabilizer bar in front, and a semi-independent torsion-beam suspension with a stabilzer bar in the rear, which The Auto Channel says provides "a comfortable, well-damped ride." Auto Mall USA notes, "Four adults seem to be about the limit for the car's rear suspension, compressing it to the point occupants will feel the bump stops on mildly rough pavement." The Touring model has independent MacPherson-strut suspension with a tuned stabilizer bar in the front, and semi-independent torsion-beam rear suspension, with springs, shock absorbers, and a stabilizer bar.
The Prius is stopped by anti-lock disc brakes with brake assist and traction control on the base model's 15-inch wheels, and 16-inch, 7-spoke alloy wheels on the Touring model. The Prius has a regenerative braking function, in which the electric motor operates as a generator when the car is coasting or the driver steps on the brakes. This motion collects kinetic energy and transforms it into electricity to recharge the batteries. Most experts feel the braking function on the 2007 Prius is an improvement over the previous version. "Toyota acknowledges too much regenerative braking resistance in the previous version, so that every casual halt felt like an emergency stop," explains USA TODAY. MSN says, "The brake pedal no longer is touchy, and stopping distances are OK." And, AutoMedia.com notes that "the regenerative braking may produce a slight jolt when approaching a stop, but it's not especially bothersome." Cars.com says that the braking system is "noticeable while driving," but suggests "it's not intrusive."