What Did We Get?
With gas prices at the lowest levels we've seen in years, it's not surprising that trucks and SUVs are flying off dealer lots, while hybrids have become passé.
Well, most hybrids at least. Even with cheap gas, the Toyota Prius was still one of the most popular cars on the market last year.
The all-new 2016 Toyota Prius is looking to build on that continued momentum with a comprehensive list of upgrades. The most notable of those improvements is a new EPA rating of 52 mpg in combined city and highway driving.
Beyond its sky-high fuel economy, the 2016 Prius addresses many of the previous car's shortcomings. The upright driving position has been relaxed, front leg- and headroom have also been improved, and although rear legroom is down a bit, it's still generous. The cabin is also much quieter, has better interior materials and the suspension has been upgraded to more readily absorb bumps.
So it's more efficient and more enjoyable to drive; at least, that's the promise. Adding the new Prius to our long-term fleet will help us determine if the changes make a noticeable difference, or if the Prius is still a hybrid first and a family sedan second.
What Options Does It Have?
There are six trim levels of the 2016 Toyota Prius: Two, Two Eco, Three, Three Touring, Four and Four Touring. We're not entirely sure why the base model isn't called Prius One, but nevertheless the ground-floor Two costs $25,035 and includes 15-inch alloy wheels, automatic LED headlights, keyless ignition and entry, automatic climate control, a rearview camera, a 6.1-inch Entune touchscreen, Bluetooth, a USB port and six speakers.
Every Prius has the same hybrid powertrain (1.8-liter four-cylinder gas engine, two electric motors and an electronically controlled continuously variable transmission), though the Two Eco trim has a different, lighter battery (lithium-ion versus nickel-metal hydride).
We wanted to get the full sample of the Prius' available feature content, so we opted for the top-of-the-line Prius Four Touring trim that starts at $30,835. With that, we got the same white cabin accents, 7-inch Entune touchscreen, navigation, satellite radio, wireless charging pad and faux leather steering wheel cover as the less expensive Prius Three, along with the regular Prius Four's added heated front seats, power driver seat, faux leather seating, blind-spot monitor and rear-cross traffic alert system.
The Touring then adds 17-inch wheels, distinctive styling elements and the Toyota Safety Sense package that includes adaptive cruise control, lane departure warning and intervention and a pre-collision warning system.
Finally, we added the $1,705 Premium Convenience package that adds a 10-speaker JBL sound system, an automated parking system and Toyota's Safety Connect emergency telematics services. We also opted for the floor mats and Blue Crush Metallic paint. All in, the 2016 Toyota Prius we purchased stickered for $32,765. We bought the car at Fremont Toyota in Northern California for a final price of $31,424.
Why We Got It
Before the Tesla Model 3, the most talked about alternatively powered car in the modern era was the Prius. It not only put hybrid cars on the map, it pushed them into the mainstream, made them cool even.
Now that it's been redesigned for even greater efficiency and performance, we want to see if still delivers on its promises. Toyota said one of its goals this time around was to make the Prius more fun to drive without reducing its fuel-sipping character. We'll test that out during our daily commutes, weekend errands and even a few road trips.
We will also be testing the Prius alongside our long-term Chevrolet Volt, so there will be plenty of back-to-back impressions of the two hybrid sedans. There's even a new Prius competitor on the way in the form of the Hyundai Ioniq, so that, too, will likely cross paths with our long-termer at some point.
Read along on ourlong-term road test blog to see daily updates on its progress.
Edmunds purchased this vehicle for the purpose of evaluation.