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The annual SEMA show, the ultimate pimp-your-ride Las Vegas extravaganza, wrapped up last week. The crazy body mods, garish oversized wheels, onboard big screen TVs, and high-horsepower antics got us thinking about what aftermarket products make sense for our mild-mannered hybrids.
As you might expect, boosting mileage is the name of the game. But looking a bit cooler, and easier access to your iPod, are not out of the question. Check out our seven nominees for the top hybrid accessories, and let us know if you have other suggestions.
More details about each product, and links to the Hybrid Cars store—courtesy of our shameless promotion department.
The Prius “Electric-Only Mode” option package is available for second generation Priuses, from 2004 to 2009. (The newer model comes standards with the EV button.)
This replica of the OEM option—which was a de facto feature of Priuses in Japan but was disabled in North America—can be installed in minutes. Activating the EV mode via the button will put older models into gas-free EV mode for small stretches. The overall boost in mileage is modest, but it gives you a sweet taste of things to come from plug-in hybrids. (Acceleration past 34 mph kicks you out of EV mode.)
2Kiwi – Diagnostics Game
If information is power, then the Kiwi is omnipotent for a hybrid. The Kiwi device plugs right into your existing on board diagnostic port near your steering column in a matter of seconds. Once installed, the Kiwi works like a game—rewarding you for sensible driving and observing the speed limit, and penalizing you (and your mileage score) for jackrabbit starts, excessive speed, and heavy braking. Think of it as a more useful and engaging screen than the one supplied by Toyota. By some estimations, playing the Kiwi mpg game can save you hundreds of dollars at the pumps. It’s compatible with all vehicles, not just hybrids, from 1996 and up. PLX, the company behind Kiwi, frequently wins top innovation awards at SEMA.
3Modellista Aero Tourer Prius Kit
Tired of your Prius being called an ultra-nerdy appliance on wheels? Take matters into your own hands with a new streamlined look, courtesy of Modellista, Toyota’s in-house tuning arm. Imported directly from Japan, the Modellista kit includes front bumper, front grill and emblem—and is manufactured with a combination of fiberglass, plastic, and flex resins. Actually, there are three separate body kits available that offer varying levels of flair: Modellista Versions 1 and 2 and an Aero Tourer Kit. The added bonus of the Aero Tourer Kit is better aerodynamics.
4Prius Chassis Stiffener Kit
The Prius chassis stiffener provides a rigid framework under the car to eliminate chassis flex, ensuring correct suspension geometry. It bolts directly to the subframe to further stiffen the unibody. You’ll notice a more stable and solid feel, especially when turning around corners—and a modest nudge in mpg, according to the manufacturer.
This is a bolt-on item manufactured to OEM standards. Four stainless steel bolts and washers are supplied. It only takes a few minutes to install the plate. Easy, detailed instructions are included.
Prius drivers receive a lot of critical information about energy use and consumption from the navigation/energy screen. But it can be drag to read the screen when the sun is blasting down. Install the NavCap and stop squinting. Made of textured and molded 1/8-inch ABS plastic. The under side is lined with a soft material and attaches easily with a heat resistant Velcro material. Made for Priuses, 2004 – 2009.
6Neo Prolink Toyota iPod Adapter
This item doesn’t save gas, but it could save your life. Fiddling with your iPod while driving down the road is a hazard. You shouldn’t be messing with your tunes at all, but with this iPod adapter you can control your playlists directly from your dashboard touchscreen or, when in “direct mode,” from the track buttons on your radio and steering wheel controls. In “playlist mode,” you will have direct access to your top 99 playlists. The Neo ProLink is compatible with all iPods with a dock connector on the bottom. The device works with Prius (2004 – 2009), Highlander Hybrid (2005 – 2009), Camry Hybrid (2007 – 2009), as well as Scion xB and xA (2008 – 2009).
7Thule Prius Bike Rack
The best way to save fuel is not to use it at all. That means getting out of your Prius and jumping on your bike. It’s never been easier to bring your bike along, than with the Thule rack. Designed for the Toyota Prius (2004 – 2010), the Thule has a two-bicycle carrying capacity, and provides a perfect combination of security and convenience—featuring quick-release levers for rapid, rear vehicle access and folding arms for storage. This item, which is compatible with Thule’s STL2 hitch lock, and 538 Cable, weighs 33.5 pounds. Limited lifetime warranty.
And with the Toyota floor mat recall in full swing, it’s time to upgrade: