2016 Toyota Prius First Look: More efficient, more fun
When it comes to the 2016 Prius, Toyota faces an interesting challenge. As of now, hybrid sales are down, directly related to the lower gas prices. However, Toyota's Prius family, which includes the Prius, larger Prius v, smaller Prius c and the Prius Plug-in, is by far the top dog in the hybrid market. So far this year, Toyota has sold more than 125,000 Prius models in the U.S. -- down about 18 percent from this time last year -- and in the 20-plus years the Prius has been on sale, more than 3.5 million have been sold worldwide. The Prius may be the most popular hybrid, but Toyota must find a way attract more mainstream customers. Toyota recently unveiled its all-new 2016 Prius, and while the company hasn't revealed everything about the new car, here's what we know so far:
One of the things that attracted buyers to the first three generations of Prius was its unique styling. That continues here: The new Prius looks notably different from any other earlier iteration. It has a sharper, more angular nose, and the car's profile no longer has the utilitarian lines of a pure hatchback, even though it still is one. The car's rear-end styling may be the most controversial, with swept-up side body lines that finish with tall, curving vertical taillights below. This is totally new for the Prius, and aligns its styling with that of the Mirai hydrogen-powered car.
While the new Prius boasts new styling, it will continue to be efficient and practical. Toyota hasn't announced fuel-economy numbers, but it expects mpg to be about 10 percent better than in the current model. Not only does the company anticipate the Prius will have the best fuel economy available in a non-plug-in, but there also will be an Eco model that delivers even better mpg. The new Prius is still a hatchback, but it's now on a new, larger platform, called Toyota's New Global Architecture, which should allow a little more room for people and cargo.
The new Prius sits lower and has a more rigid body, a combination that could make the Prius more fun to drive than past models. The 2016 Prius will also have a new double-wishbone suspension to improve cornering. Because the fourth-generation Prius is larger than the model it replaces, the new cabin should prove roomier as a result. Not only that, but the materials are a step up from those in the previous model, and the completely redesigned interior is fresh and attractive. The new wraparound dash layout uses controls and displays that make it easy to monitor the hybrid system, use Entune connectivity and adjust temperature.
In addition to the more rigid structure, the Prius will also be one of Toyota's first models to offer Toyota Safety Sense. TSS includes lane departure alert with steering assist, dynamic radar cruise control, a pre-collision system with pedestrian detection, and automatic high beams.
Toyota hasn't announced pricing, but we expect that will be announced, as well as information about the updates to the hybrid system, the engine and fuel economy, when we get closer to the Prius' on-sale date, said to be in early 2016.