The hybrid that started it all, Toyota's Prius continues to win buyers with its unmatched efficiency and proven technology. When you consider its other virtues, like practicality and value, it's easy to see why the Prius remains the most recognized example of hybrid power on the road.
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2016 Toyota Prius Overview
What's New for 2016
The Prius has been completely redesigned.
Choosing Your Toyota Prius
Although the new Prius hasn't changed much in silhouette, you'll find radically different styling at the front and rear, plus a thoroughly modern interior with more front seat room and cargo space. A new suspension setup provides sharper handling and a calmer ride.
As before, the Prius is powered by a 1.8-liter four-cylinder engine and a pair of electric motors, one of which doubles as a generator to keep the lithium-ion battery pack charged. Combined output is 121 horsepower, delivered to the front wheels through a continuously variable automatic transmission (CVT). The Prius has finally broken through the 10-second barrier in zero-to-60 mph acceleration, doing the sprint in the 9.8 seconds. As expected, efficiency is stellar at 52 mpg in combined driving. The new Eco version of the Prius does even better at 56 mpg combined.
The Prius is available in no less than six trim levels:
- Two: Comes fully equipped with automatic climate control, a rearview camera, Bluetooth phone and audio, keyless ignition, a split-folding rear seat, and a six-speaker sound system. The dash holds dual driver information displays and a 6.1-inch touchscreen. On the outside are 15-inch alloy wheels and full LED lighting.
- Two Eco: Delivers 4 mpg additional thanks to special tires, a lighter battery pack, and a tire inflation kit instead of a spare. The standard rear wiper is also deleted.
- Three: Furnishes a leatherette interior with white accents, a wireless phone charging pad, and Toyota's Entune infotainment system with navigation, satellite and HD radio, and numerous integrated Smartphone apps. The available Advanced Technology package tacks on a sunroof, a head-up display, and the Toyota Safety Sense package with adaptive cruise control, lane keeping assist, automatic high beams, and front collision warning.
- Three Touring: Gets the Advanced Technology contents as standard, plus 17-inch wheels, foglamps, LED running lights, a unique rear bumper design, and blue seat stitching.
- Four: Builds on the basic Three with heated front seats with driver power, automatic wipers, blind spot monitoring, rear cross-traffic alert, and a cargo area cover. The Advanced Technology package remains optional. The Four is also eligible for a Premium Convenience package consisting of a 10-speaker JBL sound system, an automated parking system, and Toyota's Safety Connect telematics service.
- Four Touring: Combines the Touring content with the Four's higher level of standard equipment. The Premium Convenience package continues as an option.
The price difference between the base Two and Two Eco is just $500, a small amount for efficiency bragging rights. If you're looking on the higher end of the range, the Touring models, with their standard safety technology and interesting visual tweaks, are the way to go in our book.
2016 Toyota Prius Review
The car that brought hybrid power to main street, the Prius has undergone a full redo with emphasis on style and performance. Rest assured that its key attribute—efficiency—continues stronger than ever.
Equipment and Pricing
The model lineup has been expanded to include the new Eco and Touring subtrims:
- The entry-level Two ($24,200) packs a healthy amount of equipment for a midsize car, including a rearview camera, automatic climate control, full LED exterior lighting, and a 6.1-inch touchscreen interface.
- Priced at $24,700, the Two Eco receives special tires, a lighter battery pack, and other tweaks for enhanced efficiency.
- The $26,250 Three gives you a leatherette interior and Toyota's Entune infotainment system with navigation, satellite and HD radio, and numerous Smartphone apps. The optional Advanced Technology package tacks on the Toyota Safety Sense suite and a sunroof for $1,935.
- For $28,100, you can upgrade to the Three Touring, which comes standard with the contents of the Advanced Technology, plus distinctive trim throughout.
- The Four ($28,650) builds on the basic Three with heated front seats with driver power, automatic wipers, blind spot monitoring, rear cross-traffic alert, and a cargo area cover. For $3,650, you can combine the Advanced Technology package with a Premium Convenience package, which includes a JBL sound system and an automated parking system.
- At the top of line, the $30,000 Four Touring comes standard with everything you can get on the lesser trims except the Premium Convenience package, which can be added for $1,705.
The Prius is powered by a 1.8-liter four-cylinder engine and a pair of electric motors, one of which doubles as a generator to keep the lithium-ion battery pack charged. Combined output is 121 horsepower, delivered to the front wheels through a continuously variable automatic transmission (CVT).
Performance highlights include:
- Fuel Efficiency: No surprise here—efficiency is superb at 52 mpg in combined city and highway driving. The new Eco version of the Prius does even better at 56 mpg combined.
- Steering/Handling: A new suspension setup provides more precise handling and greater composure over imperfect roads. The revamped Prius is fun to drive so long as you respect its limits.
- Hybrid Technology: There's nothing experimental going on under the hood. Although it may seem novel, the Prius's hybrid system has performed as promised in millions of owner-driven vehicles.
- Although the Prius is a tick faster than before, power is still modest. The holy mission here is efficiency, and acceleration suffers as a result.
- There is no plugin version, which leaves us wondering what level of efficiency the Prius could really achieve.
- Even with the rear seat occupied, you get nearly 25 cubic feet of cargo space, the same as some small crossovers.
- The cabin is far quieter this year, free of the mechanical drones that haunted previous editions.
- The flamboyant dashboard will remind you of a 1960s vision of the future. The centrally located instrument pod doesn't help matters.
- The sloping roofline makes the back seat a no-go zone for tall passengers.
The Most Pleasant Surprise
We had no trouble duplicating the Prius's lofty mileage ratings. This is one car where what you see on the window sticker is what you get in the real world.
The Least Pleasant Surprise
The "bold" new exterior looks like an exercise in origami. It might even be a deal-killer for some buyers.
The Bottom Line
When a car sticks to its core principles so faithfully, who cares what it looks like?
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