Some redesigns amount to a mere nip and tuck, but others achieve a true about face. The first Toyota Prius was made famous because of what it did, not how it looked. During a test drive for Latino Traffic Report of the 2016 redesigned version, I was immediately impressed with it’s new look, plus fuel efficiency and cargo room also improve.
The “Triangle Silhouette” that defined the Prius is gone, and now longer, lower, and wider than its predecessors, the new Prius bears more of a sedan silhouette, although it’s still technically a liftback.
Both the Bi-LED headlamps with automatic headlamp leveling and tail lights expand on the flame motif that the outgoing Prius hinted at. The hybrid’s new form also has a function, increasing aerodynamics that also improves fuel economy.
The new powertrain engages a 1.8-liter four-cylinder gasoline engine and two motor/generators through an electronically controlled continuously variable transmission (CVT). A new lithium-ion hybrid battery replaces the nickel-metal hydride battery in most models. Smaller and flatter, the new battery’s size allows it to fit under the rear seat, expanding cargo volume to 27.4 cu. ft., an increase from the previous space of 21.6 cu. ft.
New innovations under the hood also stretch gasoline. All of this technology combine to give the Prius Four Touring that I tested an estimated fuel economy of 54 miles per gallon (mpg) in the city and 50 mpg on the highway. That’s an increase from the city/highway estimated mileage of 51/48 mpg for the previous model. I averaged 50.9 mpg on the test drive.
On the inside a new instrument panel features a dual 4.2-inch full-color TFT (Thin Film Transistor) multi-information displays that can be configured using steering wheel controls. The driver can also enhance performance with Normal and Power driving modes option that also add ambience. The Power mode produces a red background display while Normal emits blue.
Safety advances include a standard rear backup camera and Hill Start Assist on all six trim levels. The two up-level Prius Four models, however, come with a blind spot monitor and rear cross traffic alert and Toyota Safety Sense-P (TSS –(P)) with Pre-Collision System with Pedestrian Detection, Lane Departure Alert with Steering Assist, Auto High Beams and Full-Speed Dynamic Radar Cruise Control. TSS-(P) is available on Prius Three and Four trims but not, unfortunately, on the base models.
Standard creature comforts included heated Softex front seats, Entune Premium Audio with Integrated Navigation and App Suite visible on a seven-inch-high resolution touch-screen with split screen display, AM/FM CD player, auxiliary audio jack, USB 2.0 port with iPod connectivity and control, advanced voice recognition, Bluetooth wireless technology), and Siri Eyes Free, among other features.
The test model added the Premium Convenience Package ($1705) with Safety Connect that includes Emergency Assistance, a stolen vehicle locator, one-year complimentary subscription to roadside assistance and automatic collision notification, among other features.
Pricing for the 2016 Prius starts at $25,035. The as-tested pricing came to $32,540.
Sí: The all-new Toyota Prius gets a redesign that moves the segment forward with a provocative new look.
No: Safety features like a blind-spot monitor and rear cross-traffic alert should be offered on lower trim levels.