2016 Toyota Prius Review
2016 Toyota Prius Review
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Edmunds' Expert Review
by the Edmunds Experts
- Outstanding fuel economy
- notably quieter and better-riding than past iterations
- generous cargo space
- significantly improved driving position.
- Less backseat legroom than before
- offset gauges out of driver's direct line of sight
- polarizing styling.
For 2016 the Toyota Prius has been fully redesigned.
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.
Notably, we picked the 2016 Toyota Prius as one of Edmunds' Best Used Cars.
Calculate my fuel costs
Cost to DriveCost to drive estimates for the 2016 Toyota Prius Two 4dr Hatchback (1.8L 4cyl gas/electric hybrid CVT) and comparison vehicles are based on 15,000 miles per year (with a mix of 55% city and 45% highway driving) and energy estimates of $3.12 per gallon for regular unleaded in Virginia.
Monthly estimates based on costs in Virginia
$75/mo for Prius Two
Avg. Compact Car
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.
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.
2016 Toyota Prius models
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.
4.6 out of 5 stars
Most helpful consumer reviews
5 out of 5 stars
Prius 4 Touring- good and bad
Marianne McNair, 03/19/2016
2016 Toyota Prius Four Touring 4dr Hatchback (1.8L 4cyl gas/electric hybrid CVT)
We replaced a 8 year old Prius with a 2016 Prius 4 touring. We loved our old Prius and find some of the changes in the new a little quirky. The white console accents- really? White cupholders? i give them another week before they get stained with coffee. Our old prius was noisy, and this new one also has a lot of road noise. The roof peaks over the front seats and they feel wonderfully … roomy. The back seats are a bit squishy on head room. The cargo room in the back seems bigger than in the older car. The new safety features- like blind spot monitoring and lane departure are wonderful. The car handles well and feels zippy. The range- 800 or so miles- on a tank of gas is incredible. The screens are easy to read. The navigation system displays on the main console screen, but also can show directional instructions up by the speedometer.
5 out of 5 stars
Best Prius so far
Bill M., 04/28/2016
2016 Toyota Prius Four 4dr Hatchback (1.8L 4cyl gas/electric hybrid CVT)
Update Nov 3 2022 - now 80,663 niles. As the tires have worn, mileage has continued to improve. Currently getting about 59 mpg per fill-up. The Continentals hardly look worn, however - plenty of tread left even with 30,000 miles on them. No repairs yet and the car still runs perfectly. The driver technology package was a great purchase - especially the rear cross traffic alert and … the blind spot warning. Headlights are great. Looking forward to next year when the next generation Prius comes out - it will be my fourth Prius, Update May 1, 2021 - now 66,120 miles. I remain very happy with the car. Changed the original tires at 50,000 and put on Continentals. Though they were supposed to be low rolling resistance, mileage immediately dropped about six mpg. As the tires have worn a bit, mileage has improved. Now, 16,000 miles after the tire change, mileage has improved. Still not quite where it was before the tire switch. In our current spring weather, I average about 59 mpg (real world) with the electronics reporting 62 mpg. I recently replaced the "regular" battery. The car has not needed any repairs. It looks and runs as if new. I'm constantly pleased with all the electronics and safety features. And that this generation got rid of the typical shift level and went back to the toggle on the dash, freeing up a lot of useful space. Lastly, I gave my previous generation (2012) Prius to my son when I bought my present car. The 2012 has 208,000 miles and has needed no major repairs. Atupdate - May 1, 2018 - now 33, 131 miles and still super-pleased with the car. Warm weather mileage on my commute remains about 62 mpg by actual measurement. Winter drops the mileage about 5 mpg. No repairs or complaints. My favorite aspects of the car (besides the mileage) remain the terrific driver assistance features esp rear cross traffic alert and blind spot warning, great headlights, and useful dash electronics including the heads up display. Compact and easy to drive yet there is plenty of room for a baby seat and a booster seat in the back for my granddaughters. Just a wonderful car! Oct 29, 2016 - 10,600 miles on the car and I'm still delighted with it. Mileage has averaged 62 mpg -- by actual measurement, which is about 3 mph lower than the dash readout. My daily commute is 60% highway and 40% local roads but not much bumper to bumper. I always drive in ECO and drive sedately but at or above speed limit and definitely not hypermile-ing. No mechanical problems with the car. Still like the same features as in the original review - esp great headlights, comfy interior, enough power, great but touchy brakes, and esp love the rear cross traffic alert, the auto braking, and other driver tech package features. Original review: I have 2600 miles on a 2016 Prius Four. I have previously owned a 2007 Prius and currently still own a 2012 Prius, which my son now drives. Though I've been hugely satisfied with the previous generations, this 4th gen Prius is even better. The gas mileage is averaging 60-62 mpg over the 2600 miles by actual measurement (not via the electronic read-out which is about 2.5 mpg higher). I don't accelerate or brake hard but I drive at or above the speed limit. My commute is 60% highway 40% city driving. The car accelerates a little faster than the previous gen. I got both the Advanced Tech package and the deluxe equipment package. The interior is very nice though not Lexus luxury. Great JBL sound system. Power driver seat with excellent power lumbar. The nav touchscreen is large and is not washed out in bright sun light. Speedo etc is not located so much differently than previous generations and is easy to adjust to. Headlights are fantastic - super bright, automatic low/high beams plus DRL. Nice heads up display on the windshield - easily seen but not distracting and you can turn it off if you want. When using the nav, the heads up display shows turn arrows. Neat! The dynamic cruise control, lane departure warning, and blind spot warning are highly useful. The best tech feature for me is the rear cross traffic alert, which greatly eases the worry about slowly backing out of a spot with obscured side vision. It detects cars 2-3 seconds before they cross behind you, leaving plenty of warning to brake. Large color backup monitor - via nav screen. Toyota wisely moved the transmission lever back to the dash and improved and lengthened the armrest. My 2007 had the best armrest ever made and then the 2012 backslid to a center console with trans lever. The 2016 corrected the error. Cons: not many and not very bothersome. The rear legroom is a bit less but still adequate. The rear headrests fold down - much like the 2012 -- so the rear visibility is about the same. No spare - not a deal breaker - so a little more rear cargo space. The brakes are touchy. Wind and road noise are supposedly better than previous models but seem the same to me (i.e. perfectly acceptable). The driver position is a bit lower than the 2012 - visibility isn't hindered as the window sills are lower - but I have easily adjusted (while admittedly preferring the old, higher level) On balance, this is a very significant upgrade. The tech package is worth every penny. Note that the Prius Four Touring does not have a sun-roof.
5 out of 5 stars
Great, underappreciated car
J M Hlgrt, 05/23/2016
2016 Toyota Prius Four 4dr Hatchback (1.8L 4cyl gas/electric hybrid CVT)
The car is really great. Dealers are all over the place with regards to familiarity with it, however. More upscale features such as sun roof, GPS, power seat and heated seats are indeed available in the four trim level, but those require a bit of effort (worth it) to find. That's where the quality of your dealer matters. Back to the car. The dashboard and roof are relatively low, giving … you a great view of the road around you. And I really like the sunroof - it sits far enough forward and i wide enough that you really feel the presence of the sky. I had a 2007 Prius 5 which survived 251,000 and was still getting 47 mpg until we sold it. Since I posted original review my mileage on the new Prius kept getting better and better. I use ECO mode and am a pretty efficient driver, but still... It crept past 54, then 55, 56, 57, 58 and seems to be settling at 59 mpg! It's crazy! 200 miles and the tank is like 3/4 full.
4 out of 5 stars
Function over Form
2016 Toyota Prius Three 4dr Hatchback (1.8L 4cyl gas/electric hybrid CVT)
* 85k miles as of 2/10/21 * Currently approaching 71k miles. Looking forward to taking it past 100k miles. 200k and 300k on odo would be amazing to encounter... * 3 years, 65k miles update: Prius has still been great. Mileage has reduced over time perhaps due to more usage on battery or different tires. I get around 45+ mpg, I think. I still feel the base trim Prius is the way to … go. I think the starting price on the Prius is higher than it should - maybe about $2-3k at the very least. Toyota has not offered 0% apr for a long time, so I was fortunate to opt for it when I did. Alas, the Prius is a great tool to have around. I like the new redesign and would consider making the switch if it was a smart decision financially but with vehicles, they all depreciate and are meant to be used as Point A to Point B functions. I have reduced a star across the board since the time of ownership has really got to me, and maybe I'm ready to try something different... Eventually. * 2 years, 50k mile update: I am more attached to the Prius. I use it to do Uber and ridesharing for extra cash flow. Fuel efficiency has dropped a bit but maybe that's because of the way I drive and also the hot summer with a/c always blowing. About 48-49 mpg. I may but another base trims Prius if ever needed and still keep this for Uber. Looking out for 0% financing and better incentives along with my new business taking off alongside. Don't know why more people don't purchase a Prius over a Tesla. I truly feel it is a smarter car to have and Tesla is more of a prestige item, no offense. I think I am a Prius fan for life - and this is coming from a person who used to race sports cars at the track some years back. The Prius is no longer boring and bland, IMO. * 1 year update: Great car still. I've been getting about 45 mpg for some reason though. Maybe because I'm turning up the heater in this colder climate? Still cannot seem to find a better engineered, efficient, smart, and better built (Japanese) vehicle out there. This car is all about progress, functionality, and work - the Prius, Version One. The other Prius (Two and up) have more flash and options than needed. Would definitely buy this car again in the future. * Update - The car's low to the ground sports car feel has it's negatives... The lower front end is prone to acquire scrapes and damage, therefore I have to be extra careful when approaching dips, bumps, railroad tracks, etc. Overall, the car is more susceptible to damage due to being aerodynamically lower for the sake of efficiency and driving feel. Toyota has really put a lot of effort and engineering to make this Prius have characteristics of a sports car, but without compromising the versatility and everyday drivability of the car. It's still difficult to find such a capable car with as much r&d and experience under it's belt from so many years, and that's also why I admire it so much. If there was an option for 6 stars for this specific vehicle, I would be the first to check that. I am a very picky individual and my taste in choosing my vehicles are very unique, in my opinion. First off, I highly prefer vehicles fully manufactured in Japan. Guess what? The Prius is one of them. Most importantly, Toyota has truly made a huge leap with their redesign on the new Prius. Yes, the exterior design gets a lot of heat and negativity, but if you have the courage to look past that and focus on the essence and beauty of the vehicle, it truly is an engineering marvel. The L.E.D lights - front and back - are state of the art and look like laser lights, especially from the rear. The interior is like I've never seen before, and when I sit in, it feels so driver oriented - I'm thinking Toyota has taken ideas from their sports car - the 86. The road holding and balance is so incredibly tight and smooth. The steering has so much richness and it's very well weighted with an expensive feel. I opted for the version 3 since it seems to have the best value with its features - nav, L.E.D lights, lithium ion battery, 3 door smart entry, alloy wheels with two tone cover, Softex steering wheel, etc. The Prius is struggling to sell as of late - probably due to the low fuel prices, plus folks aren't comfortable with the polarizing looks and are taking their time to get used to the latest design which represents the future. And so I took advantage of Toyota's incentives to push these vehicles. Got a fair deal with their 0% financing along with over $3k off the purchase with no trade. I've owned nothing but sports cars in the past, and the latest Prius doesn't make me miss them whatsoever. It's packed with so much excitement if you know where to look and how to appreciate. It's only been 200 miles since my purchase, and this car is the very best one I've experienced - and trust me, I'm all about that experience.
2016 Toyota Prius video
[MUSIC PLAYING] SPEAKER: Here's the new 2016 Toyota Prius. It's a completely new car on a completely new platform that will underpin a couple other future Toyota models coming up. Now, you can see they really emphasized design and styling on here. They wanted to differentiate their hybrid and eco-cars from the rest of the lineup. Now, you might wish that they could differentiate them by making them look more attractive, but Toyota decided to go a different route. The least you can say, it certainly stands out. But there's good stuff happening underneath the sheet metal. They've redone a lot of the hybrid system, they've moved stuff around, they've lightened it up. So power's actually decreased down to 121 horsepower. But fuel economy is up, and Toyota says it should be just as fast as the previous model because of the way they've been able to make the hybrid system work. It should be more efficient, less power, but still give you the same acceleration. Fuel economy is 52 miles per gallon around there, where this eco-model will actually do 56 miles per gallon. Now, that may sound good, but what happens with fuel economy is the higher the rating gets, actually, the less it matters, because you get diminishing returns when you go from 52 to 56. The jump from 30 to 40 is actually more significant, so the premium you pay to get the 56 actually takes a lot more time to work off. But that's for your accountant to figure out. Other stuff, the rear suspension. They've changed it from a torsion beam to a more sophisticated rear suspension setup, which should make it nicer to drive, more fun to drive quick around corners, and also give you some more ride comfort too, because it has a bit more sophistication in there. They've also relocated a couple of components of the hybrid system, most importantly, the battery. Where it used to sit in the rear cargo area, now it sits underneath the rear seat. That opens up a lot more cargo space back here. So there's a lot more interesting stuff happening inside, especially with regards to design. So let's take a look. So pretty standard layout for the Prius. It's at least the stuff that you can only expect if you've ever sat inside a Prius. As in, there's no gauges in front of the steering wheel, which is kind of a bummer if you like your gauges directly in front of you. No, Toyota puts the gauges up here. Your speedometer and all that stuff is listed up here, and that really helps if you want to sell cars in right-hand drive markets, because you don't have to make an entirely new dash, you could just keep this one. Now, there's this white stuff lining all around. And also, you can get the center console to be white too. And I guess they're trying to go for something that looks like a smartphone. But I'm not sure if I like it too much. Whether you like it is up to you to decide. There's no key in this, so we can't actually turn on a lot of the features here, which is kind of a bummer. But you have an entertainment system here, which we understand works a lot better than previous models. It should be pretty fast and should be pretty snappy. And we look forward to giving it more of a test in the future. Now, let's see if we can find some power outlets for mobile devices and stuff. Here we go. We have a USB port and an AUX input jack, and a 12 volt power plug there. Now, in the center console, it looks like more storage. Let's take a look at the back seat. Now, back seat passengers, you don't get rear vents, but you do get a 12 volt plug, which is nice. Back seat room is pretty spacious. My knees aren't touching the seat in front of me, my headroom is not touching the roof. And the seat feels comfortable enough. So that's it from the interior. Love it or hate it, that's the new Toyota Prius. And to find out more, go to edmunds.com.
2016 Toyota Prius Review
A new platform, revamped interior and 55 mpg should make the 2016 Toyota Prius the iconic gas-electric, go-to choice among hybrids.
2016 Prius Highlights
|Combined MPG||52 MPG|
|Cost to Drive||$75/month|
|Cargo Capacity |
All Seats In Place
|Drivetrain||front wheel drive|
|Warranty||3 years / 36,000 miles|
NHTSA Overall Rating5 out of 5 stars
The National Highway Transportation Safety Administration offers independent analysis.
- Frontal Barrier Crash RatingOverall4 / 5Driver4 / 5Passenger4 / 5
- Side Crash RatingOverall5 / 5
- Side Barrier RatingOverall5 / 5Driver5 / 5Passenger5 / 5
- Combined Side Barrier & Pole RatingsFront Seat5 / 5Back Seat5 / 5
- RolloverRollover4 / 5Dynamic Test ResultNo TipRisk Of Rollover10.7%
The Insurance Institute of Highway Safety uses extensive crash tests to determine car safety.
- Small Overlap Front Driver-Side TestGood
- Small Overlap Front Passenger-Side TestNot Tested
- Moderate Overlap Front Test – OriginalGood
- Moderate Overlap Front Test – UpdatedNot Tested
- Side Impact Test – OriginalGood
- Side Impact Test – UpdatedNot Tested
- Roof Strength TestGood
- Rear Crash Protection / Head RestraintGood