Toyota Prius

2016 Toyota Prius

All-new for 2016, Toyota Prius begins its fourth generation. Toyotas most prominent hybrid-powertrain vehicle has been fully redesigned for the 2016 model year. Part of Toyotas lineup since 2001, the Prius has changed significantly in both appearance and driving characteristics.

Still easily recognizable as a Prius, the five-door hatchback features a steeply angled windshield, while the nose has been lowered and the rear end raised, now ending with a spoiler. Measuring 2.4 inches longer than before, the 2016 Prius is nearly an inch lower, maintaining its sloping roofline. Not everyone may swoon over the new look, especially at the rear. Taller folks may find headroom tight in the back seat.

Minimizing fuel usage has been Toyotas primary goal with every Prius version, and theyve succeeded once again. The latest Prius still ranks as the most fuel-efficient car on the U.S. market, with the sole exception of those that plug into an electrical outlet.

EPA fuel economy ratings are 54/50 mpg City/Highway, or 52 mpg Combined, for the base model, called Prius Two, while the Prius Two Eco manages a 56-mpg Combined estimate.

Confusingly, Prius Two is the base model and is the only model with a nickel-metal-hydride battery pack rated 1.2 kilowatt hours. The Prius Two Eco and all other versions move to a 0.75-kWh lithium-ion battery pack. The battery packs reside beneath the back seat.

Toyota claims to have re-engineered every hybrid-system component, to boost efficiency while cutting weight and cost. A revised 1.8-liter four-cylinder gasoline engine makes 95 horsepower and can reach thermal efficiency as high as 40 percent. Working together, the gas engine and electric motors develop 121 horsepower and 105 pound-feet of torque.

In addition to greater passenger space and cargo volume, the 2016 Prius promises improved handling and grip, with a more engaging driving experience.

For 2016, Toyota offers two new Safety Sense suites of active-safety systems for the Prius Three and Prius Four. Safety Sense-C includes a Pre-Collision System with automatic braking, automatic high beams, and Lane Departure Alert, . With Safety Sense-P, the Pre-Collision System operates up to the cars top speed. That group also adds pedestrian detection, adaptive cruise control, and full Lane Departure Correction. Optional Intelligent Park Assist helps a driver parallel-park or back into a right-angle parking space.


2014 Toyota Prius

The Toyota Prius remains the world's best-selling hybrid. Worldwide, Toyota has sold more than three million copies since the late 1990s; half of them in the United States. The Prius positively dominates the hybrid category, accounting for 40 percent of all hybrid vehicles sold in the U.S.

Now in its third generation, the Toyota Prius has blossomed into a small family of fuel-efficient hybrids. In addition to the standard Liftback and its Plug-In variant reviewed here; Toyota also offers the smaller, city-friendly Prius c, and the wagon-like Prius v, which we have reviewed separately.

The biggest change for the 2014 model year is a significant price reduction for the Plug-In: from $32,000 to $29,990 for the base Plug-In, and from $39,525 to $34,905 for the better-equipped Plug-In Advanced. Prices for other Prius models remain unchanged.

Both the Liftback and the Plug-in use Toyota's Hybrid Synergy Drive powertrain, which pairs a 1.8-liter gasoline engine along with an electric motor. The regular Prius Liftback uses nickel metal hydride (NiMH) batteries and operates like a traditional hybrid.

The Prius Plug-in Hybrid employs lithium ion (Li-ion) batteries and can be plugged in like an electric car to extend its range. The Prius Plug-in Hybrid will allow true electric-vehicle operation for up to 15 miles at speeds up to 62 mph, according to Toyota, along with quick home charging using a standard AC outlet and 15-amp dedicated circuit. The Plug-in Hybrid comes with an easy-to-use external charging cable, but you'll want an electrician to set up a dedicated fast-charger for the quickest charge times.

Fuel economy is the number one reason to buy a Prius. The Prius Liftback gets an EPA-rated 51/48 mpg City/Highway, and a combined rating of 50 mpg. It runs on Regular gasoline.

The Prius Plug-in Hybrid is rated 51/49 mpg City/Highway, or 50 mpg Combined. Because it also runs on electricity, the Environmental Protection Agency gives it a special rating of 95 miles per gallon equivalent (MPGe). The Federal government's 2014 fuel cost estimates are $850 a year for the Prius Plug-In, compared to $950 for the traditional Prius.

While fuel economy is remarkable, acceleration performance from the Prius is far from it: 0 to 60 mph in an excruciating 9.8 seconds. (Well, excruciating according to the latest fashion; not so long ago, zero-to-60 in less than 10 seconds would have been considered pretty snappy.) On the bright side, the continuously variable transmission (CVT), is smooth, a quality not always found in this type of transmission.

Prius comes loaded with technology. The Touch Tracer Display projects information before your eyes, so you can keep them on the road. A solar-powered ventilation system is available, with remote pre-cooling to cool the car down to ambient temperature before you climb in on a hot day. Other features include lane departure warning, radar cruise control and Intelligent Parking Assist, which will automatically parallel park the vehicle.

The Prius is capable of seating five, but the ride will be most comfortable with only four. Front seats are roomy, though some may find the upright seating position a bit uncomfortable. In the back, there's am adequate 36 inches of legroom. The EPA classifies these cars as midsize, but we see them as large compacts.

Cargo space is generous with nearly 40 cubic feet of capacity when the back seats are dropped flat, and the big liftgate makes loading easy.

While the Prius continues to dominate the hybrid market, other alternative fuel vehicles have sprung up in recent years to give Toyota's darling a run for its money. The Ford C-Max, available as both a hybrid and a plug-in, boasts a fresher design and sharper driving dynamics. The Chevrolet Volt plug-in feels more sophisticated and more upscale than the Prius does. Shoppers might also consider the sleek Ford Fusion hybrid and plug-in sedans, as well as the Toyota Camry hybrid.


2013 Toyota Prius

Still one of the most popular hybrid vehicles on the market, the Toyota Prius comes in Prius Liftback hybrid and Prius Plug-in Hybrid versions.

Both the Liftback and the Plug-in use Toyota's Hybrid Synergy Drive powertrain, which pairs a 1.8-liter gasoline engine along with an electric motor. The regular Prius Liftback uses nickel metal hydride (NiMH) batteries and operates like a traditional hybrid.

The Prius Plug-in Hybrid employs newly developed lithium ion (Li-ion) batteries and can be plugged in like an electric car to extend its range. The Prius Plug-in Hybrid will allow true electric-vehicle operation for up to 15 miles at speeds up to 62 mph, according to Toyota, along with quick home charging using a standard AC outlet and 15-amp dedicated circuit. The Plug-in Hybrid comes with an easy-to-use external charging cable, but you'll want an electrician to set up a dedicated fast-charger for the quickest charge times.

Fuel economy is the number one reason to buy a Prius. The Prius Liftback gets an EPA-rated 51/48 mpg City/Highway, and a combined rating of 50 mpg. It runs on Regular gasoline.

The Prius Plug-in Hybrid is rated 51/49 mpg City/Highway, or 50 mpg Combined. Because it also runs on electricity, the Environmental Protection Agency gives it a special rating of 95 miles per gallon equivalent (MPGe). Fuel cost estimates for the plug-in hybrid are about $1,000 a year for the Prius Plug-In, compared to $1,150 for the traditional Prius hybrid.

Now in its third generation, more than 1 million units of the Prius hybrid have been sold in the United States since the first debuted in 2000 as a 2001 model. The Prius was redesigned for 2010, and the plug-in hybrid debuted for the 2012 model year.

New for 2013 is the Prius Persona Series Special Edition. It is available with the traditional Prius Liftback hybrid powertrain and comes with unique charcoal and black SofTex synthetic leather upholstery with red stitching, dark chrome interior accents and 17-inch alloy wheels.

While fuel economy is remarkable, acceleration performance from the Prius is far from it: 0 to 60 mph in an excruciating 9.8 seconds. On the bright side, the continuously variable transmission (CVT), is smooth, a quality not always found in this type of transmission.

Prius comes loaded with technology. The Touch Tracer Display projects information before your eyes, so you can keep them on the road. A solar-powered ventilation system is available, with remote pre-cooling to cool the car down to ambient temperature before you climb in on a hot day. Other features include lane departure warning, radar cruise control and Intelligent Parking Assist, which will automatically parallel park the vehicle.

The Prius is capable of seating five, but the ride will be most comfortable with only four. Front seats are roomy, though some may find the upright seating position a bit uncomfortable. In the back, there's am adequate 36 inches of legroom. The EPA classifies these cars as midsize, but we see them as large compacts.

Cargo space is generous with nearly 40 cubic feet of capacity when the back seats are dropped flat, and the big liftgate makes loading easy.

While the Prius used to dominate the hybrid market, other alternative fuel vehicles have sprung up in recent years to give Toyota's darling a run for its money. The new Ford C-Max, available as both a hybrid and a plug-in, boasts a fresher design and sharper driving dynamics. The Chevrolet Volt plug-in feels more sophisticated and more upscale than the Prius does. Shoppers might also consider the sleek Ford Fusion hybrid and plug-in sedans, as well as the Toyota Camry hybrid. Note: Prius c and Prius v are reviewed separately.


 

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