While few people would look at a Prius and see it as a high-performance vehicle, the truth is that they are every bit as rigorously engineered as a Porsche or BMW. Toyota's designers maintain a ruthless pursuit of fuel economy, improving whenever and wherever they can.
Three variations of the Prius are available, intended to appeal to the variety of hybrid car buyers who have different requirements. The Prius, the standard on which all the others are based, is a 4-door compact hatch. Two other variants offer more flexibility and a greater price range. The "Prius c" is a bit smaller, but still offers 4-door access for 5 occupants and a cargo space of 17 cubic feet. The "Prius v" is the largest of the trio. Passenger volume is a capacious 97 cubic feet and it offers 34 cubic feet of cargo space.
All three Prius models are still powered by a 1.8L 4-cylinder engine connected to an electric motor, Toyota is claiming that the 2016 car has a 20 percent reduction in mechanical losses due to friction when compared to last year's already very efficient drivetrain. The only transmission choice remains a continuously variable transmission (CVT) which, rather than have distinct "gears" is able to choose whatever ratio is perfect for the job.
The interior of the Prius is big and airy, offering an open feel and a good view of the road ahead, with improved headroom over previous generations. Two 4.2-inch multi-information displays are housed within the instrument panel. Basic information such as speed and fuel level are displayed on the right. The left display on the other hand is programmable, allowing the driver to choose what information he or she wants to see at any time. A heads up display projects onto the windshield and serves to further keep the driver in the know without ever having to look away from the road.
Basic features on the Prius include 15-inch alloy wheels, low rolling resistance tires and 4-wheel disc brakes. Higher trim levels include a navigation system, 17-inch alloys and synthetic leather seating surfaces. New for this year is a suite of safety options that include a pedestrian detection system and a pre-collision warning system as well as a radar controlled dynamic cruise control system.
Options include a premium JBL sound system and a full parking assistance system which will make parallel parking much easier with the help of ultrasonic sensors.
The Prius has been totally redesigned for 2016. The new exterior is bold and modern, while numerous improvements have also been made under the skin. The new drivetrain is now even more efficient, with special low friction components, a redesigned air intake and improvements to airflow inside the combustion chamber. The new drivetrain even manages to be lighter than the outgoing one further helping to improve fuel economy, Toyota expects about a 10 percent improvement over the 2015 model. The interior has also been redesigned with plenty of new technology, helping to maintain that cutting edge feel that the Prius is so well known for.
One of the most remarkable things about the Prius is how little it asks from the owner in exchange for its legendary fuel efficiency. Special fuel isn't needed, no need to plug the Prius into the wall at night, drivers are not consigned to a tiny interior and miniature storage space and finally, premium mileage numbers don't have to cost an arm and a leg.
The Prius drives, handles and behaves just like any other mid-sized car. It just happens to get the kind of fuel economy that makes people do a double take. Starting at around $25,000 the Prius is competitive with other cars in its price bracket, offering ample interior space, a quiet comfortable ride, plenty of interior gadgets and world-famous mileage figures.