Prius gets a minivan, a hot hatchback, and a plug-in

Toyota shows off three new Prius models at the 2011 Detroit auto show.

Toyota Prius V
The Toyota Prius V has a higher roofline than the current Prius, meaning more cargo space. Josh Miller/CNET

DETROIT--Toyota fulfilled its promise to expand the Prius lineup at the 2011 Detroit auto show, turning the once single model name into a whole set of hybrid cars. Joining the Prius lineup is the mini-minivan-sized Prius V, a plug-in version running a lithium ion battery pack, and a new compact concept.

Prius C concept

We saw a version of this concept previously at the 2010 Detroit auto show, dubbed the FT-CH. This sporty-looking little hybrid hatchback is Toyota's effort to design a Prius for young, urban buyers. Its size should make parking easy in cities and its looks will appeal to image-conscious buyers.

Prius V

Without increasing length much, Toyota raised the roof with the Prius V to create a larger cargo area. The result is a Prius hybrid that offers more flexibility for families. This car uses the same power train as the current Prius, but loses some fuel economy due to its larger size. Toyota plans to release the Prius V late this summer.

Prius Plug-in

Egged on by an enthusiastic user base and even a modification community, Toyota has finally announced firm details on a plug-in Prius. This car swaps out the standard nickel metal hydride battery pack for a lithium ion version, which can handle plug-in charging better. The Prius Plug-in can drive 13 miles under electric power alone, and charges to full in 1.7 hours from a 220-volt outlet. The 13-mile electric range is not much compared with the Chevy Volt's 40 miles. Toyota plans to release the Prius Plug-in in mid-2012.

About the author

Wayne Cunningham reviews cars and writes about automotive technology for CNET. Prior to the Car Tech beat, he covered spyware, Web building technologies, and computer hardware. He began covering technology and the Web in 1994 as an editor of The Net magazine. He's also the author of "Vaporware," a novel that's available as a Nook e-book.

 

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