Having become an instant icon to environmentally conscious drivers and a poster child for gasoline-electric hybrid vehicles, the Toyota Prius is not surprisingly the best selling hybrid car on the market. Using Toyota's fuel-efficient and technologically advanced Hybrid Synergy Drive, the Prius has sold more than 700,000 units in the U.S. alone and more than 1.2 million worldwide. The third-generation Prius is set to go on sale this year offering improved fuel economy, performance and a more stylish design. When it launches this spring, the 2010 Toyota Prius is expected to offer EPA estimates of 51 miles per gallon in the city and 48 mpg on the highway (up from the current model's 48 city/ 45 highway) in addition to a vast number of luxurious convenience items such as Toyota's Intelligent Park Assist. While hybrid SUVs and sedans have popped up from just about every major automaker, nobody has had an answer for the top-selling Prius - until the 2010 Honda Insight hits showrooms later this year. Despite the first-generation Prius' low-volume sales of only 12,000 units per year, the hybrid hatchback became Toyota's third-best selling car in 2005 with 107,000 units sold that year.
Toyota added to its hybrid lineup in 2005 with the Lexus RX 400h and Toyota Highlander hybrid and the company hasn't looked back since. The duo of hybrid SUVs were followed up by the hybrid version of Toyota's best-selling Camry sedan and the first ever luxury sedan hybrid, the Lexus LS 600h L. The hybrid version of the Lexus LS 600 was the first ever pairing of a hybrid drivetrain with a V-8 engine. Lexus uses the long wheelbase version only so the batteries mounted behind the rear bench seat don't impede on rear passenger comfort.
This year alone, Toyota will introduce three new hybrid vehicles: the redesigned 2010 Toyota Prius and 2010 Lexus RX 450h and the all-new Lexus HS 250h. The 2010 Lexus HS 250h is a luxury sedan based on the upcoming third-generation Prius and will mark Lexus' first dedicated hybrid vehicle as well as its first use of a four cylinder engine - a 2.4-liter that is expected to get 30 percent better fuel economy than any current hybrid vehicle. The 2010 Lexus HS 250h will go on sale late this summer and will slot in between the entry-level Lexus IS and the midlevel Lexus ES in terms of size.