A Green Future For Getaway Cars?

 

If you watched the super bowl, you probably saw the 2016 Prius commercial. If you missed it because you had to refill the chips and onion dip, here it is for your viewing pleasure.

Besides the fact that this commercial was entertaining with its tongue-in-cheek approach, it also does a great job of giving the new Prius the personality it deserves while spotlighting its recent improvements. 

 

HIGHLIGHTS FROM THE COMMERCIAL

 

“Is this a Prius? It’s very spacious.”

Apparently the robber was so distracted by the interior of the 2016 Prius that he momentarily forgot he was on the lam. Even though the car’s overall height has been reduced by 20mm and the high point of the roof has been moved 170mm forward (which adds to its new, sportier look) there has been no cost to space inside. Compared to previous models, an innovative ceiling design has increased headroom. The Prius 2016 is also 2.4 inches longer, 0.6 inches wider and 0.8 inches lower than the 2015. These may seem like minor adjustments, but every fraction of an inch counts on a road trip when it comes to occupant and cargo space.

 

“How hard is it to catch a Prius? Over.”

“This thing is actually pretty fast. Over”

“Very funny.”

Even though the dispatch operator thought it was a joke, this new Prius is no lemon. No, it’s not really a race car or the best option for a getaway vehicle, but topping out at around 105 isn’t bad when you consider all the other perks and upgrades. (Who needs to go over 105mph anyway? That’s illegal…) The 2016 Prius also boasts a .24 drag coefficient which is pretty darn aerodynamic considering a Corvette has .27.

Have you heard of TNGA? Toyota New Global Architecture, highlighted in the commercial, gives the 2016 Prius the bragging rights of “impressive driving dynamics” which means this Prius will surprise you. It's got a lot more getup and go compared the previous year's model. (We took a test drive up a hill to compare.) But what does TNGA do in effect? Lots of things.  

With an increased body torsional rigidity of 60%, a new double wishbone rear suspension, lower center of gravity and a 16% increase in high-tensile strength steel, you’re possibly seeing the beginning of the evolution of a fuel-efficient Race car.

Yes, those terms are very contradictory; I said “possibly”.

 

 “Unit 12, I’m out of gas on the highway.”

Aww. Poor policeman ran out of gas during the chase, but that Prius is still in flight mode! The Prius 4 gets about 10 % better fuel economy than its predecessor, which ends up being about 55 miles per gallon. It also has a newly developed lithium-ion battery available. What does THAT mean? I googled it for you.

Lithium-ion technology sounds familiar, right? It is. Most newer phones have a Lithium-ion battery. Toyota has taken the technology up a notch by increasing its energy density, meaning more power from a smaller battery. Because of its reduced size, it can now be found, get this… under the rear seat. The smaller, and coincidentally, lighter, battery also reduces the weight of the car which in turn adds to that attractive 55mpg.

Fuel efficiency is also boosted by improvements to heating performance. An active grille shutter has been added to open and close the grille as necessary in response to outside temperatures. The exhaust heat recirculation system has also been improved and made more compact. This recycles exhaust heat from the engine into the coolant to be reused in the heaters and to warm the engine. Cold weather fuel efficiency has also been improved by introducing an engine coolant selector valve and adding a new system which accelerates engine heating. But lithium-ion batteries offer several benefits that NiMH units can’t match. Chief among them is weight savings: Lithium-ion batteries can store more energy in a smaller area than NiMH batteries. That means automakers who use lithium-ion technology can save weight and boost gas mileage.
— http://toyotanews.pressroom.toyota.com/releases/2016+toyota+prius+technology.htm

“A PRIus!! OOOOooooo.”

No, the birthday boy opening the model car of a Prius wasn’t mistaking it for a transformer. He was responding to the Prius’ new, sporty look. (Though I could see how the child might think a Prius could be a transformer at first glance.)

The new design is geared towards getting your motor running and your heart racing. Drawing inspiration from a “runner at the blocks” with its tilt and defined, muscular looking exterior, it’s no wonder that little boy was excited about his new toy. Its strong lines running from the rear spoiler to the edges of the bumper give a chiseled, aerodynamic appearance that says this new model means business. Its athletic look represented by the long, lean lines fits right in with Prius’ name which means “to go before”. It’s a healthy looking car.

 

“Brake!”

It’s a good thing that Prius alerted the getaway driver to break or else he would have run straight into those cops sleeping in their cars. (I am positive that Toyota was in no way saying you could fall asleep driving a Prius and still be safe.)

Toyota has always taken safety seriously and the 2016 model is no different. With sturdier construction and a more rigid frame, the new Prius can better endure impact and redistribute the force of that impact which lessens the damage and provides better occupant protection.

The pre-collision breaking, as demonstrated in the commercial, is part of the Toyota Safety Sense (TSS). Along with this braking sensor, the TSS also provides Pedestrian Detection, Lane Departure Alert with Steering Assist, Full-Speed Dynamic Radar Cruise Control and Automated High beams.

The Prius is and has been the best, eco-friendly car sans plug on the market since its introduction into society; not to mention, every other brand of hybrid car has been modeled after this trendsetter. Take all that and combine its fresh, athletic look, increased fuel efficiency, massively upgraded safety features, and redesigned chassis for road-hugging capabilities and you’ve not only got a sporty and sensible vehicle currently at your fingertips, but also a glimpse into the green, fun future of automobiles. 

 

Ryan ParkerComment