DETROIT - The readers and editors of Automotive Engineering International (AEI) have selected the 2004 Toyota Prius as the "Best Engineered Vehicle of 2004." The announcement coincided with the opening of the SAE 2004 World Congress, March 8-11, in Detroit, Michigan.
The new Prius was selected because it blazes new trails in hybrid passenger car technology and engineering. It features significantly more power and performance than the previous model, as well as best-in-class fuel economy and emissions. This Prius represents Toyota's second-generation gasoline/electric hybrid technology and is the first hybrid to provide room, comfort, and features of a midsize sedan.
The vehicle's full hybrid system is capable of operating in gasoline or electric modes, or a combination of both, and produces more power from both the gasoline engine and the electric motor. In addition to enhanced power, the Prius yields better fuel efficiency, with combined U.S. EPA highway/city mileage of 55 mpg, compared to 48 mpg for the previous generation.
New to the Prius navigation system is Bluetooth technology for hands-free communication using any cellular phone with built-in compatibility. The car's new "smart entry and start" option, which allows hands-free keyless entry and startup, is a first-ever in a Toyota Division vehicle. Also, to give owners additional peace of mind, hybrid-related components are covered under warranty for 8 years/100,000 miles (160,000 km).
In this car, Toyota's engineers achieved a substantial weight reduction while increasing size and interior volume. The second-generation 2004 Prius is new in the truest meaning of the word: the five-door liftback (hatchback) sedan has moved from the EPA's compact to mid-size class.
This marks the second time that a Toyota Prius has received this honor: AEI's readers and editors also selected the 2001 Prius as the world's best engineered passenger vehicle in that year.
The SAE 2004 World Congress, the world's largest showplace of automotive engineering technology, continues through Thursday, March 11th, at Cobo Center in Detroit. For more information, log onto the World Congress web site at www.sae.org/congress .
(March 8, 2004)