2016 Toyota Prius: Monthly Update for November 2017
by Dan Frio, Automotive Editor
Where Did We Drive It?
We added just 376.7 miles to our 2016 Toyota Prius in November. We've held onto it nine months past its original expiration date, just to see if we could gather a more comprehensive set of mileage data. But now about 18 months into its time in the fleet, and with just 15,401 miles on the odometer, it's safe to say we're over the Prius.
Not that it's a bad car. It's just that we're often spoiled for choice, and when it gets down to it, other cars do the same job with more utility, comfort and style. Our long-term Volt, for example, also stayed well past midnight yet racked up almost 29,000 miles. We liked it a lot, apparently. The Volt possessed a solid heft and feel, while the Prius feels hollow and lean in its quest for maximum fuel thrift. And then there's the interior. And exterior. And that joystick thing that makes the car go forward, back or stationary.
But overall, today's Prius is a good evolution of the former. There's more room, its handling is (marginally) more responsive, and the cabin looks better than before. And it still does well what it's always set out to do: Conserve fuel. Our average mpg during this long-term test is 49.6 — shy of the EPA rating, but still impressive given the kind of driving the Prius endures.
What Kind of Fuel Economy Did It Get?
Normal city use didn't boost our average mpg figure; in fact, it dropped it 0.1 mpg. Here's a case of a car not being to stretch its legs, condemned to a month of puttering around Los Angeles stoplights and side streets.
Average lifetime mpg: 49.6
EPA mpg rating: 52 combined (54 city/50 highway)
Best-fill mpg: 57.2
Best range: 513.1 miles
Current odometer: 15,401 miles
Maintenance and Upkeep
Here's a recap of some things we've felt the Prius does right and not so right:
"While I wouldn't say I 'enjoy' driving our Toyota Prius around town, I'm nonetheless impressed with how efficiently and effectively it goes about getting the job done. Here's why: 1) It's easy to see out of through the windshield and front side windows; 2) It feels light and agile when zipping around turns or parking lots; 3) Getting in and out is easy, and the driver seat is comfortable; 4) On top of all this, it gets admirable 50-plus mpg as long as you're not driving it like it's a race car." — Brent Romans, senior automotive editor
"I'll admit that the Prius makes me drive a little faster than normal. Knowing that it gets well over 40 mpg no matter how you drive it is the reason. I have little hesitation to mash the gas when necessary since it barely seems to matter. Could this be why I often observe Prius drivers zipping through traffic like they're in some big hurry? Possibly. If our car were a Prius plug-in, it would be a little different. At least then I would be mindful of the battery range I was using up. It's an odd mind-set, but one that's hard to resist." — Ed Hellwig, senior automotive editor
"The long-term Prius is one of those cars that always pleasantly surprises me when I get back into it. Never thought I'd be saying that about Toyota's appliance-like hybrid, but the current generation is a real step forward. There's noticeably more pickup around town and less road noise on the highway, which adds up to more driver confidence — it just feels more like a real car. I'm also impressed with the steering response relative to past models. Honestly, if I needed a new commuter car right now, the Prius' styling would be the only thing holding me back. Give me the previous generation's inoffensive exterior and I'd be all in." — Josh Sadlier, senior manager of content strategy
"I feel like I'm sitting in a plastic bathtub. I do like the lower-than-expected seating position, but the dash, doors and the rest of the interior seem a little too high (unless there's a larger than normal number of really tall people buying these things). It helps to raise the seat up quite a bit." — Kurt Niebuhr, photo editor
"I'm a big fan of the live radio rewind feature on the Prius' infotainment system. The system allows you to rewind up to 20 minutes of live radio, which is valuable in the case you receive a phone call during your favorite radio program." — Jonathan Elfalan, road test manager
"I recommended the current-generation Prius to a friend the other day. He was looking for a practical car that would also work well for his spare-time gig as an Uber driver. I told him to consider a certified preowned 2016 Prius, explaining that it's much more rewarding to drive than its predecessors, and it'll give him 50 mpg all day long. He was surprised that a 'car guy' would recommend a Prius, but he said he'd take a look. I asked him a couple weeks later what ended up happening. 'I got a Mazda 6,' he said. 'I actually liked the Prius, but it was just too ugly.' I couldn't argue with that. Great car, but oof, that styling." — Josh Sadlier