Toyota NS4 Plug-in Hybrid Bows at 2012 Detroit Auto Show
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Toyota NS4 Plug-in Hybrid Bows at 2012 Detroit Auto Show

2012 Detroit Auto Show


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Just the Facts:
  • The Toyota NS4 plug-in-hybrid sedan may hint at elements of the next Prius, although Toyota says it was envisioned as "removed from the Prius family." It debuted on Tuesday at the 2012 Detroit Auto Show.
  • The four-passenger NS4 previews a sportier, less conservative look for Toyota.
  • The NS4 provides a glimpse at Toyota's next-generation hybrid drive system, which will be smaller and lighter with better fuel economy.

DETROIT — The Toyota NS4 plug-in-hybrid sedan may hint at elements of the next Prius, although Toyota says it was envisioned at "removed from the Prius family." It debuted on Tuesday at the 2012 Detroit Auto Show.

The four-passenger NS4 previews a sportier, less conservative look for Toyota. The NS4 also provides a glimpse at Toyota's next-generation hybrid drive system — due out in about three years — which will be smaller and lighter with better fuel economy. No fuel-economy projections were provided, however.

"The NS4 was envisioned as a dedicated plug-in hybrid separate and removed from the Prius family," said Toyota in a statement.

However, certain elements, such as design cues and the new hybrid drive system, may end up in the next Prius. One key detail was missing in Toyota's presentation of the NS4 — that is, whether a future Toyota plug-in hybrid will have the older nickel-metal-hydride battery pack or adopt the newer lithium-ion battery pack.

The silhouette of the NS4 is what Toyota calls a "modified triangle." One key design element is a solar panel roof.

The NS4 also previews Toyota's next-generation pre-collision system, which uses millimeter wave radar and stereo cameras, as well as the automaker's adaptive driving beam headlights, said to "three-dimensionally tailor where the light beam is targeted," thus improving visibility for the driver.

Toyota said the central theme of the NS4 is "the human connection to the car." The concept features a multi-touch screen "with the look and feel of a smartphone," said Toyota. The human-machine interface in the NS4 can "learn" driver preferences "to anticipate driver responses in specific environments and situations," the company said.

Edmunds.com says: Not exactly a racy look, but a little less cautious for usually conservative Toyota as it scopes out its future plug-in hybrid.

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