Although our crafty spy photographers had already caught the car testing without disguise, the fourth-generation 2016 Toyota Prius finally makes its official debut in Las Vegas. Along with a drastically redesigned exterior, the new generation of the world’s most popular hybrid packs updated technology, better efficiency, and an improved chassis.
The 2016 Toyota Prius is a landmark vehicle for Toyota, as it is the first to incorporate the Japanese manufacturer’s New Global Architecture (TNGA) platform. Similar to Volkswagen’s highly successful MQB platform, TNGA aims to streamline production costs by sharing chassis and powertrain components across Toyota’s model lineup.
At this point, the powertrain details are still a mystery, but extensive revisions have resulted in a more efficient hybrid drivetrain. Toyota pegs the improvements at a ten percent increase in efficiency, which means we can estimate a 55-mpg combined rating. Toyota plans on offering an even more fuel-efficient Eco model later in the model’s run, which could have an upgraded battery pack. A separate plug-in hybrid model will come at a later date. Other reports suggest that the new Prius will use lighter, more energy-dense lithium-ion batteries instead of the current car’s nickel-metal hydride cells.
The 2016 Toyota Prius is 0.8 inch lower than before, although its width increases by 0.6 inch and its overall length increases by 2.4 inches. As a result, Toyota claims the new Prius will have more interior space and improved cargo room. Due to the new TNGA bones, Toyota also claims the new Prius is more engaging to drive. A new double-wishbone rear suspension and the increase rigidity of the TNGA platform are said to improve ride comfort and make the new Prius more responsive, hopefully eliminating the floaty and disconnected driving feel of previous models. Toyota even claims the Prius’s lower stance means that its front badge as at the same height as that of the Scion FR-S.
The styling of the new Prius has aggressively sharp lines inspired by Toyota’s recent push toward a more angular design language. From the front, influences from the recent Mirai hydrogen fuel-cell car are clear, with the sharp, high-waisted lines arching even higher as you make your way to the back of the car. LED headlights are smaller than before, creating a scrunched-nose look. On the inside, the interior takes a more evolutionary step forward. The instrument cluster remains atop the center of the dashboard, with Toyota’s touchscreen infotainment system farther below. The Prius retains is unusual joystick-like shifter, and Toyota also says the 2016 Prius has better visibility.
The 2016 Toyota Prius offers the Toyota Safety Sense package of driver-assist and safety systems, including a pre-collision system, lane departure alert and steering assist, radar cruise control, and automatic high-beam headlights.
Look for more information on the 2016 Toyota Prius later this year, with sales of the new hybrid beginning early in 2016.