TORRANCE, Calif. --- Toyota said its Prius offers a more engaging driving experience for 2007 with the availability of a new Touring Edition model. In addition, the 2007 Prius gains standard driver and front passenger seat-mounted side airbags and front and rear side curtain airbags, which were previously optional. Toyota said the 2007 Prius Touring Edition provides more spirited driving responses due to its European-tuned suspension and 16-inch alloy wheels. The Prius Touring Edition is distinguished externally by the new wheels, a larger rear spoiler, High Intensity Discharge (HID) headlamps and integrated fog lamps. For 2007, a new Camry Hybrid joins the Prius and Highlander Hybrid SUV in the Toyota lineup. Last year, Toyota boosted Prius production to keep up with demand. "Prius was already the most successful hybrid car in the market, and the rising gasoline prices seen in 2006 have only added to its appeal," said Jim Lentz, Toyota Motor Sales, U.S.A. executive vice president. Prius provides the best fuel efficiency ratings of any midsize car sold in America, with estimated EPA ratings of 60 mpg in city driving, 51 mpg on the highway and 55 mpg in combined driving. The current Prius was the first Toyota product to employ Hybrid Synergy Drive, the company’s third-generation gas-electric hybrid powertrain technology. Hybrid Synergy Drive is defined as a "full hybrid system," which means it is capable of operating in gas or electric modes, as well as a mode that combines the power of the gas engine and electric motor. In the Prius, Hybrid Synergy Drive combines a 1.5-liter four-cylinder Atkinson Cycle gasoline engine and an electric drive motor. The gasoline engine produces 76 horsepower and 82 lb.-ft. of torque. As on all other Toyota passenger car engines, Variable Valve Timing with intelligence (VVT-i) helps to optimize power delivery across the engine speed range. The permanent-magnet electric drive motor produces its maximum power of 50 kW (67 horsepower) from 1,200-1,540 RPM, and peak torque of 295 lb.-ft. from 0-1,200 RPM. The Prius produces 110 combined horsepower with its gas engine and electric motor. The electronically controlled planetary gear-type continuously variable transmission does not have fixed gear ratios, but rather provides infinitely variable ratios in response to driving conditions. A regenerative braking system further boosts system efficiency: when the Prius is coasting or the brakes are applied, the electric motor functions as a generator, capturing kinetic energy that would normally be lost as heat through the brakes and transforming it into useable electricity to recharge the batteries. The computer-controlled powertrain seamlessly blends power from the gasoline engine, the electric drive motor and the generator. The driver typically does not feel the vehicle changing operational modes. The Prius uses an electronically controlled "by-wire" throttle. A by-wire shift control replaces the traditional gearshift lever and allows tap-of-the-finger shifting using a small joystick mounted on the dash. The Prius driver can monitor electric-gas power distribution through the Hybrid Synergy Drive system on the standard seven-inch touch-panel display monitor. This screen also displays navigation information on vehicles equipped with the optional navigation system. The Prius produces over 70 percent fewer smog-forming emissions than the average new vehicle. The Prius has been certified as a Super Ultra Low Emission Vehicle (SULEV) in California and those states adopting California standards. In the rest of the country, Prius is certified as Tier 2, Bin 3. In addition, in California and states adopting the California rules, Prius is certified as an Advanced Technology Partial Zero Emissions Vehicle (AT-PZEV). The AT-PZEV certification requires the SULEV exhaust standard linked with the ability to meet a zero-fuel-evaporative standard, a 150,000-mile durability demonstration, extended emissions system warranty, and technology deemed by the California Air Resources Board (CARB) to advance future fuel cell vehicles.

Originally posted on Fleet Financials