2012 Toyota Prius C, 2012 Toyota Camry SE and 2013 Scion FR-S: Show Me
October 3, 2012
Allegedly the tiny aerodynamic strakes that are sprinkled around the 2012 Toyota Prius C and 2012 Toyota Camry in four places make a difference in straight stability and small-angle yaw behavior at speeds over 25 mph. I've been told it's a difference that can be felt in a double-blind back-to-back handling evaluation.
My knowledge of Toyota internal politics suggests the effect must be demonstrable for them to have spent the money. In both cases the claim is one of improved on-center handling and stability, not fuel economy. Now that I think about it, I saw some on our 2013 Scion FR-S during the suspension walkaround shoot, too.
I used to tune suspensions for a living, and straight stability and inital yaw response and feel was a huge part of that. I understand the power of aerodynamics, too, but I'm having a hard time buying into all of this.
But where are these little nubs? Well, each rear taillamp sports a pair, as seen above.
And each mirror housing has one.
Another pair is molded into the plastic belly pan just behind the front bumper, and two more are found under the car at the back, just forward or the rear license plate. I don't have Prius C pictures, but you can see them in the 2013 Scion FR-S underbody shots. It's a bit of a Where's Waldo hunt, but you'll find them if you keep at it. Hint: The rear ones on the Scion sit outboard of the exhaust tips.
Tell you what: let me get my hands on some of the leftover development test parts that don't have these vortex generators so I can swap them out and see for myself. Surely they existed at some point. I bet they're still sitting on some shelf at the proving grounds. You apparently proved it to yourself; prove it to me, I say.
As it turns out we happen to have three examples of cars with this feature to choose from: The 2102 Toyota Prius C, the 2012 Toyota Camry, and the 2013 Scion FR-S. You pick. Let me know and I'll send you my shipping address. If that doesn't work for you I'm more than happy to bring one of them to your test track with my blindfold at the ready.
Dan Edmunds, Director of Vehicle Testing @ 7,525 miles