Most Economical Car

Economical car data by country & car type

2010 Prius - The family sized most efficient car

The most efficient cars are tiny things that barely fit two people and one suitcase. If you need more room than that the Toyota Prius is the most efficient car that also has a decent amount of space. In fact it would do quite nicely as a family car. The Prius has been super successful since its launch back in 2004. Its hard to believe this legendary car has been around that long. Five years on and many car manufacturers still have their hybrids on the drawing board. The unique aerodynamics of the Prius was a defining feature for it and Toyota has largely kept the shape the same for the latest 2010 version.

The Prius power source is a hybrid system consisting of a 1.8 liter 73 kW gas engine coupled to a 60kW electric motor. Performance is pretty much comparable to most other family hatchbacks. Its no sports car but its not designed to be one. The Prius has amazing fuel efficiency. This most efficient car returns fuel mileage figures of 51 miles per gallon around town and 48 mpg on the open road. No other family car of similar size with a traditional internal combustion engine can come close to this vehicle for fuel efficiency. Tailpipe emissions are very low also at just 89g of CO2 per km.

Since this is a Toyota, build quality on the Prius is excellent. Mechanically its very robust, is made of quality parts and is well put together. This car shouldn't break down on you. In fact, I drive 15,000 miles a year, and in the last 5 years since it was launched, I can't remember seeing any Prius on the side of the road broken down.

The Prius has a range of features at the forefront of car technology. The best features are saved for the optional Advanced Technology Package. Radar cruise control alters the speed of the Prius depending on traffic conditions ahead. The driver doesn't have to brake or accelerate as the traffic slows or speeds up ahead. The radar detects you're getting closer to the vehicle in front, brakes, and then accelerates again once there is enough room to do so. Auto lane keeping is also a feature of the Advanced Technology Package, and ensures the Prius doesn't wander from its lane on the freeway. Parking assist performs a reverse parallel park for you once you have lined up the car next to a space to park in. You just need to apply the brakes once the Prius has steered the car into the space. A head up display on the car means you don't need to take your eyes off the road to look at the instruments on this most efficient car.

Another optional feature of the 2010 Prius is the Solar Roof Package. A solar panel on the top of the vehicle powers a fan inside the car. When the car is parked this fan will ventilate the interior of the car. When you return to the car it should be cooler than otherwise. The Solar Roof Package also includes remote air conditioning which cools the cabin for a few minutes before you get in. Other options on this vehicle include an ionizing cabin air cleaner, voice activated GPS, LED headlights, rear reversing camera and leather heated seats. The base model Prius starts out pretty spartan but the more expensive models are well equipped (comparable to luxury cars) and the price increase reflects this. Toyota wanted to create a fairly cheap base model to open their hybrid car up to a larger audience.

The Prius has taken on huge environmental responsibility, so I'm surprised that Toyota would choose to include a remote air conditioner that runs when there's nobody in the car. Air conditioners use a lot of energy and this just seems like an unnecessary waste of electricity that at the end of the day will require the usage of more gas. Similarly, I don't think the Prius should be incorporating heaters in their seats! These use even more electricity than the air conditioner. If Toyota are as serious as they say about the Prius being an environmentally friendly car then such features shouldn't be on it.

The Toyota Prius can fit 5 people quite comfortably and has a decent amount of luggage space. The cabin is also a very pleasant place to be. For the driver the controls are laid out logically. A large screen shows the power transfer map between the petrol engine and electric motor, displays climate information, navigation system and reversing camera. There's lots of buttons on the steering wheel which sounds confusing but they're easy to use and allow you to control many functions hands free. Visibility forwards is great thanks to the large windows but rear visibility is more restricted. The cars ride quality is very smooth and the car is virtually silent until the petrol engine starts up at 25 mph.

As well as being a most efficient car its a very safe one too. The Prius gained five stars in crash tests, has seven airbags and has antilock brakes as standard. Stability control is an option. Add to this the incredible safety technology included if you pay extra for the Advanced Technology Package and you have one very safe vehicle.

After 5 years, the Toyota Prius still leads the way in hybrid family cars. Toyota keep on improving the car with every release and the latest Prius is definitely the best yet - its the most economical, the safest, the most practical and the most technologically advanced. You won't be disappointed if you buy this car.