Toyota Prius Persona Series Special Edition: Is it really that special?

2013 Toyota Prius rear three-quarter viewToyota has been trying to expand the Prius “family” by adding new models like the Prius C and Prius V, as well as the MPGe master Prius plug-in. Each new Prius permutation was meant to make Toyota’s signature product do something different. The latest version, the Prius Persona Series Special Edition, is not a completely new car, but it’s trying to accomplish the same mission as the other Priuses (Prii? Priot?) by being a bit classier.

The key word here is a bit. Like most automotive special editions, the changes that make the Persona are not substantial. On the outside, Toyota added new 17-inch wheels and three unique paint colors: Black Cherry Pearl, Blizzard Pearl, and plain old Black. None of this makes the Prius Persona more efficient or luxurious.

The interior gets SofTex leather seats with red stitching and a SofTex-wrapped steering wheel. The shifter and door panels are trimmed in chrome. That should make this Prius’ interior a little more interesting but, again, the changes aren’t significant enough to make the Persona Special Edition that special.

Nothing in life is free, so the Persona costs $27,890, a noticeable hike from the base Prius Two’s $24,960 base price. However, it’s possible to spend more on a Prius. A fully loaded Prius Five starts at $30,765, and the Prius plug-in starts at $32,760 and a loaded Advanced model costs $40,285.

You know a car has truly arrived when its maker rolls out a special edition. The Prius Persona may just be new paint and leather seats, but Toyota knows that, because it’s a Prius, people will still buy it and at least feel like they got a little something extra. That’s because those buyers will be thinking more about how much they want a Prius than how much they want it to be special.

That should be good enough for Toyota, especially since the company has had trouble producing a truly upmarket purpose-built hybrid. Lexus’ HS 250h sedan (since discontinued) and CT 200h hatchback haven’t been that successful, and there may be a limit to how much people will pay for a regular Prius.

With four distinct models already on sale, the Prius already has plenty going on. Those models may not carry a “special edition” badge, but they should be everything most buyers need from a hybrid.

Product Review

Mercedes-Benz updates the timeless G-wagen for the modern world

For decades, the G-Class has been an outlier in the Mercedes-Benz portfolio, a body-on-frame brute with the soul – and driving manners – of an off-road pickup. With the all-new G550, Mercedes seeks to smooth out some of the rough edges.
Cars

Subaru’s latest VIZIV concept car is pumped full of adrenaline

The Subaru VIZIV Adrenaline is the seventh member of the Japanese automaker's family of VIZIV concept cars. It debuts at the 2019 Geneva Motor Show, but for now, all we're getting is a shadowy teaser image.
Cars

2019 RAM 1500 Classic Warlock special edition: Badass style without the whoop

If you like the looks of blacked-out badass trucks without the cost of a desert racer, FCA announced the 2019 Ram 1500 Classic Warlock, a special edition pickup that focuses on appearance with only a touch of additional off-road capability.
Photography

Photography news: Wacom’s slimmer pen, Leica’s cinema special edition

In this week's photography news, Wacom launches a new slimmer pen for pro users. Leica's upcoming M10-P is designed for cinema, inside and out, with built-in cinema modes in the updated software.
Cars

Waymo rules and Apple trails in California self-driving car benchmarks

California's DMV releases annual reports of self-driving car disengagements on public roads. In the most recent reports. Waymo had the best performance, GM Cruise came in second, and Apple's self-driving program was in last place.
Cars

Watch a modified Audi e-tron electric SUV drive straight up a ski slope

A modified Audi e-tron climbed up an 85-percent gradient on an Austrian ski slope in a tribute to a classic Audi commercial. The vehicle used for the stunt sported an extra electric motor and spiked tires.
Cars

Mamma mia! Alfa Romeo will unveil a new model at the Geneva Auto Show

Alfa Romeo told Digital Trends it will unveil a new model at the 2019 Geneva Auto Show. It stopped short of revealing what it has in store, but rumors claim it will be a crossover positioned below the Stelvio.
Cars

Citroën says you could drive its tiny Ami One electric car without a license

Citroën's Ami One concept car is an electric vehicle that's as cute as it is compact. The miniature motor only has a top speed of 28 mph, so the French automaker imagines it as a shareable runaround for short drives.
Cars

Arizona city slammed with $10M lawsuit over fatal Uber autonomous car accident

The family of Elaine Herzberg, the woman struck and killed by one of Uber's self-driving prototypes, has filed a $10 million lawsuit against the city of Tempe, Arizona. They claim Herzberg jaywalked because she was confused by a brick…
Cars

Mercedes lets the sun shine in one last time with SLC Final Edition convertible

The Mercedes-Benz SLC convertible sports car is going out of production. Launched in 1996 as the SLK, the model has been a fixture in the Mercedes-Benz lineup across three generations.
Cars

Aston Martin’s next hypercar, due in 2021, will pack a hybrid powertrain punch

Aston Martin will follow up the Valkyrie and Valkyrie AMR Pro with a new hypercar, code-named Project 003. The car will debut in 2021, with production limited to 500 units worldwide.
Cars

Apple opens up about its self-driving car program in letter to NHTSA

Apple has traditionally kept details about its self-driving car technology under wraps, but it has revealed details about the program in a rare instance of openness. The company takes safety seriously.
Cars

Tesla will release fully self-driving cars in 2019 — with a big asterisk

Tesla reaffirmed its goal of releasing a fully self-driving car by the end of 2019, but it warned the system won't work perfectly 100 percent of the time. Convincing regulators that it's safe to use will require some effort, too.
Cars

Consumer Reports bumps the Tesla Model 3 off of its list of recommended models

The Tesla Model 3 is one of the six new cars that have lost their coveted Recommended rating from Consumer Reports over reliability concerns. In 2018, Model 3 owners reported body trim falling off and problems with the car's glass.