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Welcome back LA Rides faithful readers! It’s our first entry of ‘09, and though the news of the day seems to be filled with stories of the negative, we’ve got some good news to report. Besides having that young and gifted (not to mention inspiring) new leader in the oval office, 2009 seems like a grim road ahead indeed. Well, fret no more ( or just a tad less) because the world’s largest automobile manufacturer, Toyota, is about to unleash 2,000 lbs of good news on us -- The 2010 model Toyota Prius!


The legendary Prius is synonymous with the term hybrid and though it was not the first hybrid sold in America (give that prize to the 1st generation Honda Insight) the Prius is the hands down champion when it comes to Hybrid’s in the USA. From the 2001 model that started the smoldering to the 2nd and 3rd generation models of 2003-2008 that created the hybrid synergy drive blaze that inspired an entire line of Toyota and Lexus hybrids, the Prius has been the hybrid sales champion since day one.


The previous Prius was selling so well that Toyota was planning on building a new factory here in  the good old USA just to keep up with demand. With the global economic crisis still raging those plans have been put on hold but, what Toyota has promised me is that the re-born 4th generation Prius will be available here in early 2009.


The entirely new car is more evolutionary than revolutionary as Toyota is smart enough to know a good thing when they see it. People in the market for a hybrid not only want to save on fuel and lower their personal carbon footprint but they also choose the Prius because it “looks like a hybrid”. Just ask the folks at Honda while the Prius outsells their just-as-green Civic Hybrid and they will begrudgingly tell you that it’s because the Civic just “looks to much like a plain-Jane civic”. 


As a side note, the soon-to-be-released 2010 Honda Insight has not only been re-imagined -- from a two door, two seater to a Prius-like 5 door hatchback  with looks that I’m sure any Prius fan would instantly recognize -- not to mention Honda’s hydrogen fuel cell powered Honda FCX Clarity that also cuts a very Prius-like profile. Sometimes flattery is the sincerest form of imitation.


As far as the stats go, the new 4th generation Prius is cheaper, faster and gets better fuel economy than the previous generation. Styling as we said, is an evolution but where the real change comes is in a brand new face. Borrowing its new puss from the best-selling Camry and economical Yaris, this latest Prius does a better job of fitting into the Toyota family of vehicles with a more integrated and streamlined look. 


Mileage is greatly improved with an expected average of over 50 miles per gallon, a 4 mpg improvement overt that previous generation. Power and stop light acceleration are also greatly improved via a larger (but greener) 1.8 liter engine that utilizes a highly efficient Atkinson Cycle mode of internal combustion. What’s that all mean? More power, less carbon emissions and more miles per gallon. From what I hear the MSRP is also going to be akin to the last generation Prius so it won’t break the bank if you’d like to trade in your old model, or you’ve waited long enough to join the hybrid revolution. 


In a few months the latest-greatest Prius will be among us, but there will be stiffer competition this time as well. Honda’s new Insight is gunning for the Prius and even Toyota’s Lexus brand is coming out with a sedan version of the Prius in the guise of the HS250h “luxury” Hybrid sedan.


The future looks very bright indeed for the Prius and even though these harsh economic times have slowed this king of green’s progress a bit, expect the 2010 Prius (and it’s competitors) to sell like crazy once they hit the streets. 


Just between us -- my spies tell me that the new Prius will be available with solar roof panels built into the sunroof that not only power the air conditioning and re-circulate fresh air around the cabin while parked, but also grant a 3-5 miles per gallon boost when fully charged!  Now, the only car I know that has that feature is the Mercedes-Maybach uber luxury sedan. But you’d need to trade in your Prius (and sixteen more) or shell out $400,000 plus for the Maybach. Cost is not really an issue with Maybach owners, but you see my point. The new Prius is on the cutting edge and it’s a steal at under $25k. Way less cash than just the solar-roof option on the Maybach costs btw!


Will the next, next generation Prius be fully solar powered? I highly doubt it, but what I can promise you is -- by this time next year you’ll be able to buy your very own “plug-in”  4th generation Prius powered by lithium-ion batteries directly from the factory. What’s that amount to? Imagine never filling up your tank again -- or just a few times a year. The electric car for the masses is what we’re really heading for. 


And as before – the Prius will be the Champion on that day too!




Mercedes Maybach


Just so we don’t forget that delusions (or aspirations) of grandeur are not lost on those who love cars as much as we love the environment, let me re-introduce the aforementioned Maybach, pronounced My “Bach”, like the composer, super luxury sedan. 


Oft rapped about, the Maybach can be had in the “smaller” 57 version, “only” as massive as a Chevy suburban, heavier and six times the price, or the titanic-limo-style long wheelbase version, the Maybach 62.  


Released quietly in 2004, the Maybach is the monster creation of Mercedes Benz and is such an exclusive model that it has its very own brand. For movie stars, popes, rappers and despots around the globe (including Simon Cowell) the choice of a Maybach puts its owner in a class above all other luxury car drivers  --  but don’t mention that to the good folks at BMW-owned Rolls Royce. Ah, those German car rivalries are legendary. 


With options that start with simple perks like a built-in rear seat champagne refrigerator and fully reclinable rear seats to bullet and bomb proof versions (and the amazing self-cooling solar panel roof mentioned in the story  above) the Mercedes Maybach is not just a car. It’s an heirloom on wheels. Or in my case, a perfect cash-trade for my beloved and luxurious Hollywood home. Now if I could only get mine with a built-in full bath and kitchenette. Strike that, I can always eat at the drive-through and keep the leftovers in my trusty champagne cooler. Delusions of grandeur don’t come any grander.


See you on the big screen,


Matthew Goodman / Issue 93 - September 1895
Turnpage Blk

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