2016 Toyota Prius Tech Take
The all-new 2016 Toyota Prius will roll onto the scene with a comprehensive ground-up redesign that was previewed last month at an event in Las Vegas. As it enters its fourth generation, the world's most popular hybrid matches a styling makeover with an upgraded platform and a new gas/electric powertrain that's more compact and more efficient. Toyota says that as a result of the changes, the new Prius is expected to deliver 10 percent better EPA fuel economy than the current vehicle and that an Eco variant will be even more efficient.
While bolder but sleeker sheetmetal, active grille shutters and full underbody fairings do their part to increase efficiency of the 2016 Prius by dropping its overall coefficient of drag to a stellar 0.24, the real story is the latest iteration of Toyota's Hybrid Synergy Drive system. Although the 1.8-liter VVT-i gasoline engine remains, improvements inclidng breathing, reducedfriction and enhanced cooling yield a more potent yet lighter 4-cylinder that reaches a groundbreaking 40-percent level of thermal efficiency. It's teamed with a smaller, lighter electric motor that has 20 percent less internal friction and a new transaxle that swaps planetary gears for a more-efficient parallel-cog design. Finally, a smaller power control unit that now sits above the transaxle bolsters its efficiency by roughly 20 percent thanks to a new loss-reduction device.
Lithium-ion and Nickel-metal hydride batteries
No word yet on capacity figures for the new strain of batteries that will be used in the 2016 Prius, but Toyota says the car will offer both lithium-ion and nickel-metal hydride packs. Advances in internal chemistry increases energy density and reduces size, which allows both to be relocated under the seat to open up more usable cargo space.
To fully leverage the impact of its new powertrain, the 2016 Prius is the first vehicle to employ the Toyota New Global Architecture (TNGA). Constructed from 19 percent high-strength steel augmented with Laser Screw Welding, the structural torsional rigidity increases by over 60 percent. Coupled with a new double-wishbone rear suspension, a lower center of gravity and recalibrated control software, Toyota promises the new Prius will offer sportier acceleration and dynamics than the current car while a new brake booster will enhance the feel of its regenerative brake system.
The roomier cabin of the 2016 Prius gets its own sweeping makeover that starts with more comfortable and supportive front/rear seats. A redesigned dash has a new full-color, reconfigurable multi-information display with dual 4.2-inch screens and an available head-up display. The Smart-flow climate control system automatically adjusts the heating and air conditioning to limit unnecessary circulation around empty seats. Driver assists will be on offer to further bolster the roster of standard items. The Toyota Safety Sense P package includes a Pre-collision System with Pedestrian Detection as well as Full-speed Dynamic Radar Cruise Control while an Intelligent Parking Assist option uses an array of ultrasonic sensors to help back the car into a perpendicular space at the touch of a button.
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