Not that long ago Toyota’s Prius was a lifestyle statement for nerds…
People who didn’t care much how frumpy and/or dorky they looked when they spruced up for a night on the town. Let alone how ungainly their fuel-sipping ride looked as they lumbered about saving the earth and promoting world peace.
Then came the 2010 model year…
Just like that the pabulumly Prius was transformed into a green machine that not only averaged 50 mpgs, actually looked halfway decent.
Add some custom wheels and window tinting to the mix and –voila! – you had a car even Leonardo DiCaprio needn’t apologize for. Maybe that’s an exaggeration, still today’s Prius makes a reasonably respectible fashion statement while retaining enough geeky charm to keep the Earth Shoe set happy.
But there’s something approaching a shakeup where the 2012 Toyota Prius is concerned…
For starters new Priuses come with a "spaceship sound." You heard it right, spaceship. But more George Jetson than Star Wars. The idea being the cars were too quiet when operating in golf cart mode. Dangerously so. Legistlation now requires electric cars and hybrids to add noisemakers so blind and clued out people won’t get run over because they didn’t hear the cars coming.
Kinda like backup beeps on trash trucks.
In trend speak, think of it as virtual noise. To bureaucrats they’re Vehicle Proximity Notification Systems. Call it what you like, greencarreports.com describes the new sound effect as "a cross between a spaceship and a car alarm."
Check it out for yourself on YouTube.
Speaking of youtube, autoblog calls Toyota’s new Prius TV spots "creepy." Green Car Reports labels them "disturbing." But why not? Halloween displays have been in grocery stores nearly a month and the timing is right. The spots combine actors, computer annimation and Kinks music to promote that the Prius has gone "plural" with four different models. Check it here.
Meanwhile back on Planet Earth a little known addition to the Prius option list – a PLUS Performance Package introduced this summer – is going mainstream, albeit in limited quantities. The package includes an aerodynamic ground effects body kit, 17 inch alloy wheels, "track-tuned" lowering springs, a rear sway bar and custom badging.
All for the low, low price of between $2,999 and $3,699 depending on which Prius is selected.
In short, Toyota’s taking the Prius mainstream for buyers with a yen for J-Lo ads and no-apologies-required, responsible automotive sex appeal.