2016 Toyota Prius: Performance Tested
by Reese Counts, Vehicle Testing Assistant on May 18, 2015
Our all-new long-term 2016 Toyota Prius is one of the most fuel efficient and practical vehicles on the market. We were so impressed with our initial test that we went out and bought one for our long-term fleet.
While the Prius might post some impressive numbers at the pump, we weren't expecting much at the track, especially after testing our long-term 2016 Toyota Mirai. We definitely don't foresee many Prius owners signing up for track days. Read ahead to see how the Prius performs.
Vehicle: 2016 Toyota Prius
Driver: Jonathan Elfalan
Drive Type: Front-wheel drive
Transmission Type: Electronically controlled continuously variable transmission (ECVT)
Engine Type: Hybrid powertrain with gasoline inline four-cylinder engine
Displacement (cc/cu-in): 1,797/109.7
Redline (rpm): None indicated
Horsepower (hp @ rpm): 95 @ 5,200 (gasoline)/121 hybrid system net power
Torque (lb-ft @ rpm): 105 @ 3,600
Brake Type (front): One-piece ventilated discs with single piston sliding calipers
Brake Type (rear): One-piece solid discs with single piston sliding calipers
Suspension Type (front): Independent MacPherson strut suspension with stabilizer bar
Suspension Type (rear): Double wishbone with stabilizer bar
Tire Size (front): 215/45R17 87V
Tire Size (rear): 215/45R17 87V
Tire Brand: Yokohama
Tire Model: Blue Earth S34
Tire Type: Standard low-rolling resistance
As tested Curb Weight (lb): 3,119
0-30 (sec): 3.5 (w/ TC on 3.6)
0-45 (sec): 6.3 (w/ TC on 6.4)
0-60 (sec): 10.1 (w/TC on 10.2)
0-60 with 1-ft Rollout (sec): 9.8 (w/TC on 9.8)
0-75 (sec): 15.3 (w/TC on 15.3)
1/4-Mile (sec @ mph): 17.4 @ 79.7 (w/TC on 17.4 @ 79.9)
30-0 (ft): 30
60-0 (ft): 117
Skid Pad Lateral acceleration (g): 0.83 (0.80 w/ESC on)
RPM @ 70: None indicated
The Prius seems to lack that off-the-line electric motor torque you've come to expect from hybrids and EV's. We didn't notice a change in acceleration sensation when "power" mode was selected and going immediately to full throttle (it likely changes the throttle pedal profile only), but the times did improve slightly with power mode engaged. Power between the gas engine and electric motor are integrated so well that that they feel like one power source. The gas engine isn't particularly pleasant sounding as it works to keep up with acceleration demands and funnels its motivation through the ECVT. Under power braking (pressing the brake pedal and accelerator simultaneously), the car will allow the engine to rev up but will display a message on the center screen that both brake and accelerator pedals are being pressed (in case you were doing so inadvertently.) The Toyota Mirai will disable power if this happens, whereas the Prius will operate like a regular car and leave the line when you lift off the brakes. The quickest run, which wasn't quick at all, was the second run with power mode engaged and no power braking (no wheelspin with traction disengaged too). Runs got successively slower following the second, as battery stores diminished and hybrid systems warmed up.
The Prius' brake pedal is soft, but has a short travel and reaches the end of its stroke pretty quickly. There's a moderate amount of sound in the cabin from tire squeal and brake actuation. The Prius shifts around and squirms a little under hard braking as it's coming to a stop, but maintains a relatively straight path. Nose dive is pretty mild and braking distances seem pretty consistent overall. There is a slightly detectable odor after all runs have been completed. Under normal braking conditions, the pedal modulation is easy and feels relatively natural compared to when you're stomping on it for maximum braking in an emergency.
Consistent with the hype that's been surrounding this generation, the 2016 Prius does handle better than any generation before it. It behaves very predictably around the skid pad when all systems are turned off, and surprisingly they stay off when you ask them to. And even with the stability control systems turned on, the braking intervention from the computer feels pretty mild as long as you aren't driving erratically and maintaining a relatively clean line. In more aggressive transient turns (see erratic driving), the brakes will grab and slow the car pretty aggressively to try and dial out understeer as quickly as possible. Otherwise, the system has some surprisingly liberal limits considering what previous-generation Priuses were tuned for. The steering feel/feedback still isn't great and there's a dead spot where the wheel is on center, but the steering's weight feels pretty nice and not overly boosted as it usually is.
Reese Counts, Vehicle Testing Assistant @ 1,606 miles