Toyota has announced that the Australian-market 2010 Prius will boast two high-tech safety systems when it lands here in July, systems that until now have been the exclusive domain of Toyota's luxury arm Lexus.
Dynamic Radar Cruise Control is the primary system, and the one that keeps you out of trouble. Pre-Crash, on the other hand, is the one you don't want to have to use, as it only kicks in when a collision is imminent. Hit the jump to find out how both work.
Dynamic Radar Cruise Control is similar to other adaptive cruise control systems used by other manufacturers in that it uses a radar system to detect traffic up ahead. When a slower car is approached from behind, the radar senses the difference in speed and slows the Prius down to maintain a safe distance from the slower vehicle.
When traffic speed picks up or the slower car changes lane and presents you with a clear road, the system then accelerates the Prius back to the original cruising speed. The only time the driver needs to intervene is when more braking than the system can muster is required, which is indicated by a warning buzzer.
Pre-Crash also utilises the Prius' nose-mounted radar system, but for a different purpose. Pre-Crash monitors approaching objects and uses the vehicle's speed and angle to determine whether a collision may be imminent. If the Prius is heading towards something solid, an alarm sounds to alert the driver and the braking system is primed to provide maximum braking force when the pedal is touched.
If a crash is unavoidable, the Pre-Crash system will then apply the brakes independently of the driver and retract the front seatbelts automatically. Seatbelts are also tensioned during heavy braking, and when the vehicle stabilty system detects the car is uncontrollable.
Toyota won't say whether the adaptive cruise control and Pre-Crash system will be offered as standard or as an optional extra, however spokesman Mike Breen says those details will be released closer to launch.
As for the Lane Keep Assist and Intelligent Parking systems that will be on offer in the US-market Prius, it's unclear at this stage whether those will be available on the Aus-spec model. We'll keep you posted.