Used 2016 Toyota Prius Review
Look no further than the 2016 Toyota Prius if fuel economy is what you're after. But you'll also enjoy more sophisticated ride and handling qualities and a quieter powertrain. Going green with a Prius has never been better.
The fully redesigned 2016 Toyota Prius further cements the model's reputation as the most fuel-efficient hybrid car you can buy. But the company that dominates the hybrid sales market is not coasting on its success. Toyota turned its attention to refining the rest of the car, with impressive results. At the same time, Toyota produced a radically different exterior design that many of us find challenging to like, though whether Prius fans will love it or hate it remains to be seen.
The redesigned 2016 Prius has styling unlike anything else, unless you count the hydrogen-powered Toyota Mirai, which seems to have been the inspiration.
The essential appeal of the Prius, of course, lies in its fuel economy, and for 2016 the numbers are indeed impressive, with an EPA combined rating of 52 mpg for the standard car. But there is one hybrid that can beat it, and that machine is the new Prius Eco, a fuel-economy-oriented variant (as if the Prius needed one) that is rated at a whopping 56 mpg combined. As an added bonus, the gas engine is now noticeably quieter when it comes to life, and it sounds less strained during hard acceleration.
But there's plenty more to recommend the new Prius than just the powertrain. The previous Prius' odd upright driving position is no more, replaced by a lower, more natural orientation that makes the car feel less like a science experiment. There's more front leg- and headroom, too, although a couple inches of rear legroom have been lost. The payoff is found in the cargo bay, which grows by 14 percent. Hybrid credentials aside, the Prius has long been a smart pick due to its hatchback practicality, and for 2016 it's even more practical than before.
As for the car's underlying architecture, a lower and wider stance combines with the new double-wishbone rear suspension to improve the car's ride and handling. Bumps are now more readily absorbed, and the steering's added heft is reassuring. This new Prius is still not speedy or all that exciting to drive, but there are far fewer failings to overlook. It's a pleasant car to drive in its own right.
With these refinements, the Prius also has fewer peers than ever before. Honda has shelved its slow-selling Insight, and no other automaker is attempting a Prius rival. At this point it's a matter of size, mpg, configuration and, yes, styling. Is the 2016 Prius hatchback big enough, or do you want the extra passenger space of a midsize sedan that has a trunk? If so, the 2016 Ford Fusion Hybrid or the 2016 Toyota Camry Hybrid might be worth a look. If a plug-in hybrid is more to your liking, the redesigned Chevrolet Volt is pretty impressive. But for a regular hybrid, we highly recommend the 2016 Toyota Prius.
trim levels & features
The 2016 Toyota Prius is a four-door hatchback that seats five passengers, and it comes in six trim levels: Two, Two Eco, Three, Three Touring, Four and Four Touring. The compact Prius C and larger Prius V are different models covered in separate reviews.
Standard features found on the Prius Two include 15-inch alloy wheels, automatic LED headlights, LED running lights and taillights, heated mirrors, keyless entry (driver door only) and ignition, automatic climate control, dual 4.2-inch driver information screens, cruise control, a tilt-and-telescoping steering wheel, cloth upholstery, a height-adjustable driver seat, a 60/40-split folding rear seat, a 6.1-inch touchscreen display, a rearview camera, Bluetooth phone and audio connectivity, voice recognition with Siri Eyes Free and a six-speaker audio system with a USB port, an auxiliary audio jack and a CD player.
The more efficient Prius Two Eco is fitted with ultralow-rolling-resistance tires, two-tone wheel covers, a lighter lithium-ion hybrid battery, a lightweight inflation kit instead of a spare tire and illuminated keyless entry on three doors. The rear wiper that comes standard on the other trims is deleted here.
Inside the Prius Three you'll find leatherette steering wheel and armrest trim, white interior accents, a wireless phone charging pad (compatible phone case not included) and the Toyota Entune premium infotainment system with a 7-inch touchscreen, navigation, satellite radio, HD radio, real-time data (traffic, weather, fuel prices, sports, stocks) and access to apps like Pandora, iHeartRadio, OpenTable and Yelp via a paired smartphone running the Entune app.
Sleek automatic climate controls share space with Toyota's familiar touchscreen infotainment system in the 2016 Prius.
The Prius Four comes with a blind spot monitor, rear cross-traffic alert, automatic wipers, leatherette upholstery with contrasting white stitching, heated front seats, a power driver seat with adjustable lumbar, seatback storage pockets and a rear cargo cover.
Standard equipment on the Three Touring or Four Touring includes everything on the corresponding Three or Four plus 17-inch alloy wheels, foglights, LED clearance lights, unique rear bumper styling and leatherette upholstery with contrasting blue seat stitching. Both also come standard with the Toyota Safety Sense package, which includes full-speed adaptive cruise control, lane departure warning and intervention, a pre-collision warning system and automatic high beams.
The Prius Three and Four can be upgraded with the Advanced Technology package, which consists of a sunroof, a head-up display and the Toyota Safety Sense equipment found on Touring models.
Finally, the Prius Four and Prius Four Touring can be equipped with the Premium Convenience package, which includes JBL 10-speaker premium audio, a self-parking system and Safety Connect emergency services.
performance & mpg
As before, the new 2016 Toyota Prius is powered by a 1.8-liter four-cylinder engine and a pair of electric motor/generators. Their outputs are blended in a unique electronically controlled continuously variable transmission (CVT) that feeds as much as 121 horsepower to the front wheels. Light to moderate braking transforms one of the electric motors into a generator to keep the hybrid battery topped up.
In Edmunds track testing, a 2016 Prius Three accelerated from zero to 60 mph in 9.8 seconds, a few tenths quicker than the outgoing model but 2.1 seconds slower than the last Camry Hybrid sedan we tested. The upside is an EPA fuel economy rating of 52 mpg combined (54 city/50 highway). Our on-road testing of a Prius Three proved that this rating can be readily matched or beaten. Those looking for ultimate frugality can turn to the new Prius Two Eco, which earns an astonishing rating of 56 mpg combined (58 city/53 highway).
Every 2016 Toyota Prius comes standard with antilock disc brakes, stability and traction control, front side airbags, full-length side curtain airbags, a driver knee airbag and a passenger seat cushion airbag. A rearview camera also comes standard.
Blind spot monitoring with cross-traffic alert comes standard on the Prius Four and Four Touring. The Toyota Safety Sense package includes full-speed adaptive cruise control, forward collision warning and lane departure warning and intervention. It's standard on the Prius Three Touring and Four Touring and optional on the Three and Four.
The Safety Connect system that can be added to the Prius Four and Four Touring is subscription-based (with a one-year free trial) and includes automatic collision notification, stolen vehicle locator and one-touch access to roadside and emergency assistance.
In Edmunds brake testing, a Prius Three came to a halt from 60 mph in 120 feet, which is solidly average.
The 2016 Prius is just slightly quicker than before, so it's not going to win any speed contests. That's perfectly acceptable in light of its maximum-mpg mission. The new Prius powertrain is more evocative of a full-on electric vehicle than ever. Part of this is due to improved noise suppression: You don't hear the engine as much when it is running. But the system also stays in EV propulsion mode more of the time, provided you're not a leadfoot.
The all-new Prius drives better than the nameplate's reputation might lead you to believe.
On diverse real-world roads, the Prius is even easier to drive than before, with smoother-acting brakes and a bit more reassuring heft to the steering. The new double-wishbone suspension is far more adept at soaking up road imperfections and quelling body motions than before, and it's also an effective road noise filter.
The 2016 Prius has a more conventionally laid out interior than its predecessor. A traditional center console between the seats contains cupholders, a shallow storage bin (home of the wireless phone-charging pad) and an armrest. The stubby shifter with its separate Park button remains, and the speedometer and gauge array still sit high in the center of the dash. A new head-up display option can present the most crucial information directly in front of the driver.
The 2016 Toyota Prius trades the last generation's sporty wraparound cockpit for a cabin with a more spacious feel.
Materials quality feels appropriate, with interesting seat fabrics and leatherette materials showing up on lower trim levels. But the choice of pearl white as a prominent center console accent color is sure to be polarizing. And though some legacy Prius design quirks remain (as well as one or two new ones), the layout and control placement are generally easy to understand and use.
The intuitive 7-inch touchscreen upgrade responds quickly to commands. A clumsy Entune app is necessary for high-level smartphone integration, but you can do without and still have a satisfying experience via the USB or Bluetooth audio connections. Bluetooth pairing, incidentally, has been greatly simplified.
Perhaps the biggest change involves the driving position, which features a lower seat with a less upright posture and more maximum head- and legroom despite a roof line that's almost an inch lower. The view out is still clear thanks to a lower cowl and side glass. And the telescoping steering wheel now has ample range of adjustment, with simplified control buttons that have a more positive feel.
But more than 2 inches of rear legroom has been lost. The remaining space is still enough for most families, but the Prius may not be the choice it once was among taxi drivers. The payoff is increased luggage capacity, which stands at 24.6 cubic feet, a full 3 cubic feet more than the last model. The Prius Two Eco and Prius Four twins lack a spare tire, which lowers the floor and raises their luggage capacity to a cavernous 27.3 cubic feet.
edmunds expert review process
This review was written by a member of Edmunds' editorial team of expert car reviewers. Our team drives every car you can buy. We put the vehicles through rigorous testing, evaluating how they drive and comparing them in detail to their competitors.
We're also regular people like you, so we pay attention to all the different ways people use their cars every day. We want to know if there's enough room for our families and our weekend gear and whether or not our favorite drink fits in the cupholder. Our editors want to help you make the best decision on a car that fits your life.