4. Hybrid-Synergy Drive
The Prius’ powertrain was and arguably still is a technological marvel. The ’97 model features a 1.5-liter gasoline engine that provides all of 58 horsepower. It’s paired with a permanent magnet electric motor with a torque peak of 225 lb-ft. It’s juiced by a 6.5 amp-hour nickel-metal hydride battery pack. An electronically controlled continuously variable transmission (CVT) serves as a moderator between the powertrain and wheels.
The American version, which went on sale a year or so later, supposedly delivered 52 miles per gallon in city driving and up to 45 on the highway. Additionally the car’s emissions were squeaky clean. It allegedly released 90 percent fewer smog-forming leftovers than conventional cars of the era.