The 2016 Toyota Prius gets a boost in sex appeal.
Cars tend to fall into categories. Some are efficient, energy saving machines while others are sleek and sexy. The Toyota Prius set the standard for gasoline/electric hybrid vehicles when it was introduced globally in 2000, which is cool for the environment. But, honestly, it has never been the kind of car that raises pulses.
Prius apparently doesn’t need to be sexy to sell. Since introduced, Prius has sold over 3.5 million units worldwide. But, the 2016 fourth generation Toyota Prius is going to surprise you. Heather Willis, the technical expert at Toyota Prius, said, “We wanted the fourth generation to be revolutionary and stand out from its predecessors.”
Thus, they coined it the auto industry disruptor and designed a more sylphlike, sexy hybrid with LED headlights and a leaner teardrop shape. The height is .8 inches lower; the length has increased 2.4 inches, and it is .6 inches wider. A few inches this way or that may not sound like much, but it gives the 2016 Prius a more macho stance with more drama and emotion. The old standard vanilla is gone.
Plus, eliminating the spare tire creates a flat load floor and enlarges the trunk space from 22 to 25 cubic feet (with the rear seat folded, capacity increases from 63 to 66 cubic feet).
In its formative years, people didn’t understand the technology, so the hybrid had more badging to identify what it was. After the first few generations, Toyota stopped broadcasting hybrid and let the product speak for itself. In fact, the new ECO Prius is the only Prius with badging, which consists of very discreet cueing on the tire covers.
Despite the fact that Prius competes with Acura ILX, Chevrolet Volt, Honda Civic and CR-Z, Ford Fusion, Subaru XV Crosstrek, among others, it remains the leader of the pack with over 25 percent of hybrid sales from month to month.
The new Prius slides through space
To improve the way it handles, Toyota worked on everything from laser screw welding to advanced body adhesives. New noise-control materials add to a quieter cabin; components that can cause drag or wind noise are covered and increased insulation inside the vehicle makes the Prius quieter still. A smaller and flatter battery, positioned under the rear seat rather than beneath the luggage area, adds to more cargo space.
A more sensual cabin
The mid-size Prius has a comfortable wrap-around dash design and form-hugging seats, and better visibility. The new instrument panel features dual 4.2-inch full-color multi-information displays, which can be configured using steering wheel controls. You can choose from a multitude of readouts for hybrid energy information by selecting either Simple or Segmented display modes. Select Power mode and the background becomes rally red, selecting Normal mode features a calm blue glow. There’s also an available heads-up display and Siri Eyes Free, a first for Prius.
Yes, more technology
Optional Intelligent Parking Assist uses ultrasonic wave sensors to automatically steer the Prius into parallel parking spaces, or reverse into perpendicular spaces; the system also offers automatic steering to exit a parallel space.
More fun to dive, plus great mileage
The new engine has a top speed of 112 mph. But even more exciting: Toyota claims the 2016 Prius will offer the highest miles per gallon of any vehicle without a plug. The 2016 Prius is expecting 54 MPG city / 50 MPG highway / 52 MPG combined; the Eco model is expecting ratings of 58 MPG city / 53 MPG highway / 56 MPG combined.
The new battery
2016 Prius uses smaller, lighter hybrid components, including a new lithium-ion hybrid battery that replaces the nickel-metal hydride battery in most models. The ECO model components are all new, including a radium ion battery that is 65 pounds lighter than the previous one.
Safer than ever
The 2016 Prius is the company’s first global vehicle to use Toyota’s New Global Architecture, a rigid framework to enhance protection in the event of a collision. Prius will be among the first U.S. models to offer Toyota Safety Sense, a package combining automated pre-collision braking, pre-collision system with pedestrian detection, lane departure alert with steering assist, and full-speed dynamic radar cruise control.
All teched out
The Entune Audio infotainment and connectivity system are standard on Prius Two and Prius Two Eco grades. It includes 6.1-inch touch-screen display, AM/FM CD player, six speakers, auxiliary audio jack, USB 2.0 port with iPod® connectivity and control, advanced voice recognition, hands-free phone capability, phone book access and music streaming via Bluetooth® wireless technology), and an integrated backup camera display.
“We’ve taken an icon and given customers more ways to love the car,” explained Craig Taguchi, Product Communications Manager, “We’ve earned loyalty. It’s not just about miles per gallon. Today customers want it all. With the 4th generation Prius, we are redefining what a hybrid can be. It’s been upgraded in every way possible and more fun to drive than ever.”
What I loved
- The 2016 Prius has Siri Eyes Free mode for iPhone users
- 2016 Prius is expecting 54 MPG city / 50 MPG highway.
- Yes, it’s eco-conscious but also very stylish!
What you need to know
- Pricing: the Toyota Prius ranges from for $24,200 entry-level Prius Two model to $30,00 for the Prius Four Touring
- The new Prius has been re-engineered from the ground up
- The Prius is one of the first U.S. models with an advanced safety package that has automated pre-collision braking, pre-collision system with pedestrian detection, lane departure alert with steering assist, and full-speed dynamic radar cruise control
Disclosure: Travel and accommodations were provided by Toyota; opinions expressed here are all my own.