Quick Summary An all-new version of the popular hybrid four-door hatchback, the 2016 Toyota Prius is more efficient and better-driving than ever before.
What Is It? It used to be that the Prius was a niche vehicle, a rolling proclamation of counterculture eco-mindedness. Today the Prius is so ubiquitous that it is regarded as the default commuter choice in the minds of many consumers. With the 2016 Prius, the fourth generation of Toyota's standard-bearing nameplate, the formula remains the same. It's still a four-door hatchback with a hybridized four-cylinder engine that drives the front wheels.
There's a wider variety of trim levels on offer now. The 2016 model will be offered in six flavors: Two, Two Eco, Three, Three Touring, Four and Four Touring. "Touring" trim levels bring more equipment while the "Eco" model is even more miserly with fuel than the base version.
What's New Under the Skin? The 2016 Toyota Prius is built on an all-new platform that will underpin several future Toyota models, including the next Corolla. The new Prius rides on the same 106.3-inch wheelbase as the outgoing model, though the new car is a hair lower and wider and a couple of inches longer.
Its new structure is stiffer, too, which — along with relocating the hybrid battery from the cargo area to under the backseat — facilitated the adoption of a new rear suspension layout. Gone is the old Prius' pedestrian twist-beam rear suspension. In its place is a double-wishbone layout, the promise of which is enhanced wheel control for improved ride and handling.
Roughly speaking, the double-wishbone arrangement added back about 100 pounds that were offset by weight-saving measures elsewhere in the 2016 Prius' construction. The end result is that curb weight hasn't changed significantly; depending on trim level, the new Prius weighs between 3,010 and 3,080 pounds (the 2015 Prius is 3,042 pounds). Though the new car is no lighter, its center of gravity was lowered by an inch, another suggestion that the new Prius will drive more keenly.
What's New Under the Hood? A revised version of the existing 1.8-liter four-cylinder engine ekes out more efficiency and delivers 95 horsepower and 105 pound-feet of torque. Combined with the revamped electrical side of the Prius' hybrid equation, the total system output is now 121 hp. This is actually less peak power than the outgoing model, which generated 134 total system horsepower.
Despite the power deficit and similar weight, Toyota says the new car's acceleration to 60 mph (10.6 seconds) matches the old car. What gives? Essentially, the new car draws more heavily from its electrical components at low vehicle speeds than does the outgoing model. Thus, the 2016 model's low-speed thrust is juicier, and this is enough to offset its peak power shortfall in the sprint to 60 mph.
What Else Is New? A nickel-metal hydride (Ni-MH) battery is still employed, but only in the entry-level Two version. All other 2016 Prius models receive a lighter, more capable lithium-ion (Li-ion) battery pack. The less-costly Ni-MH battery (also employed in other global regions where Li-ion disposal/recycling is trickier) allows the base version of the new Prius to ring in at exactly the same base price as the 2015 model.
One characteristic familiar to hybrid owners is curiously absent in the 2016 Prius: There are no telltale high-voltage orange electrical cables under the hood. For 2016, engineers shrunk the inverter and power electronics so significantly that these components are now integrated directly into the top of the transaxle.
In the bargain, the orange cables and their attendant copper losses were jettisoned, reducing clutter and boosting electrical efficiency. So much space was liberated up front that the traditional 12-volt battery was relocated from the cargo area to the engine compartment. The continuously variable transaxle, too, was redesigned in the interests of packaging and slashing parasitic losses.
What About Its Fuel Economy? Official EPA fuel economy numbers are still forthcoming, but Toyota's own projections rate the new Prius at 52 mpg combined (54 city/50 highway), a 2-mpg improvement over the outgoing model. Note that the 2016 Prius' numbers were divined in adherence of the EPA's more rigorous testing guidelines that take effect for 2017 models.
Eco models are projected to achieve 56 mpg combined (58 city/53 highway), courtesy of lower-rolling-resistance tires and a slight weight reduction. While the Eco's fuel-sipping ways are impressive, the savings may not pencil out for some buyers, as at today's fuel prices it would take more than a decade for the Eco model's fuel savings to pay off its $500 purchase premium over the base 2016 Prius.
How Does It Drive? Our drive of the 2016 Prius was limited to the boulevards and freeways in Laguna Beach, California, but this much is clear: The new Prius picks up its feet with more sophistication than the old car. The ride quality has far less busy-ness at the rear and the car steers along your intended path more faithfully than the 2015 model we drove it back to back against.
It moves off the line briskly, leaving us with no reason to doubt Toyota's acceleration claims. It also blends its regenerative and friction brakes more seamlessly, and the engine has noticeably better noise isolation. Wind noise was prominent at the A-pillars, however.
The new car's newfound adroitness simply makes it drive like a more expensive car, and it's the kind of improvement that's noticeable even in routine driving well below the ultimate limit of tire grip. It's no sports car, of course, but the changes to the rear suspension have produced a real difference you can feel by the seat of your pants every time you drive it.
What's the Interior Like? There's no question that the exterior styling, to be charitable, has a face only Mother Toyota could love. Fortunately, the revisions to the interior will be more universally well received. The first thing you notice is the new car's lower seating position. The hip point is a significant 2.3 inches lower, so sitting in a Prius no longer feels like you're perched atop a stack of phone books. Headroom is more generous than in the old car, too. There's a telescoping wheel as standard, but its adjustment range is limited.
The outgoing car's floating center console was binned, which opens up the sense of space in the cabin. Materials are now noticeably less cheap-looking (and feeling), while the full-color central information display is much easier to read than the outgoing monochrome blue-green affair.
Cargo volume has grown appreciably to 24.6 cubic feet (27.3 cubic feet for models without a spare tire), an increase of 3.0 cubic feet over the old Prius. This comes at the price of a decrease in backseat legroom.
What Features Come Standard? Standard equipment on the 2016 Toyota Prius includes keyless entry, full LED lighting, a 6.1-inch touchscreen, Bluetooth compatibility and active grille shutters. Higher trim levels are equipped with power seats, 17-inch wheels, a more capable and larger multimedia system and wireless smartphone charging (assuming you have a Qi case).
Optional equipment available in various packages includes semi-automated parking, a moonroof and a head-up display. Tech-seeking buyers should turn their attention to the Prius Three and Four, which offer adaptive cruise control, automatic high beams and a collision prevention system that can detect and respond to pedestrians. These higher trim levels also have blind spot detection and rear cross-traffic alerts as standard equipment.
How Much Does It Cost? Base prices range from $25,035-$30,835, both of which are unchanged from last year's car. Considering the tangible improvements made to the model, holding the line on pricing is a pleasant surprise.
What Competing Models Should You Also Consider? Chevrolet Volt: All-new for 2016, it's a plug-in hybrid that has an impressive electric-only range that's easily extended by the efficient gasoline engine.
Mazda 3: Delivers top-shelf fuel economy among non-hybrids, along with sharp dynamics and a sense of style inside and out.
Why Should You Consider This Car? When fuel economy tops your priority list, the Prius has been a traditional go-to choice, and the new car only reinforces its dominance in this regard. There's a host of new equipment available in the comprehensively upgraded cabin, yet the ride and handling improvements alone make it easily the most agreeable-driving Prius yet.
Why Should You Think Twice About This Car? It's still on the slow side, and there's slightly less rear passenger space than before.
Edmunds attended a manufacturer-sponsored event, to which selected members of the press were invited, to facilitate this report.
2016 Toyota Prius Overview Edmunds experts have compiled a robust series of ratings and reviews for the 2016 Toyota Prius and all model years in our database. Our rich content includes expert reviews and recommendations for the 2016 Prius featuring deep dives into trim levels and features, performance, mpg, safety, interior, and driving. Edmunds also offers expert ratings, road test and performance data, long-term road tests, first-drive reviews, video reviews and more.
Our 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.
Consumer ratings and reviews are also available for the 2016 Toyota Prius and all its trim types. Overall, Edmunds users rate the 2016 Prius 4.6 on a scale of 1 to 5 stars. Edmunds consumer reviews allow users to sift through aggregated consumer reviews to understand what other drivers are saying about any vehicle in our database. Detailed rating breakdowns (including performance, comfort, value, interior, exterior design, build quality, and reliability) are available as well to provide shoppers with a comprehensive understanding of why customers like the 2016 Prius.
Vehicle Three 4dr Hatchback (1.8L 4cyl gas/electric hybrid CVT)
Review * 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.
Edmunds Value Edmunds has deep data on over 6 million new, used, and certified pre-owned vehicles, including rich, trim-level features and specs information like: MSRP, average price paid, warranty information (basic, drivetrain, and maintenance), features (upholstery, bluetooth, navigation, heated seating, cooled seating, cruise control, parking assistance, keyless ignition, satellite radio, folding rears seats ,run flat tires, wheel type, tire size, wheel tire, sunroof, etc.), vehicle specifications (engine cylinder count, drivetrain, engine power, engine torque, engine displacement, transmission), fuel economy (city, highway, combined, fuel capacity, range), vehicle dimensions (length, width, seating capacity, cargo space), car safety, true cost to own. Edmunds also provides tools to allow shopper to compare vehicles to similar models of their choosing by warranty, interior features, exterior features, specifications, fuel economy, vehicle dimensions, consumer rating, edmunds rating, and color
The 2016 Toyota Prius earned a 5-star overall safety rating from NHTSA and "GOOD" ratings from the IIHS in the following caregories: Side Impact Test, Roof Strength Test, Rear Crash Protection/Head Restraint, IIHS Small Overlap Front Test Results, Moderate Overlap Front Test Results, and a JD POWER overall quality rating of 3.0 out of 5. Among Edmunds' many tools and resources for finding your perfect car are detailed safety ratings and analysis from NHTSA, IIHS, and JD Power, including overall ratings, frontal barrier crash ratings, side impact tests and crash ratings, rollover test results, roof strength tests, rear crash protection and head restraint ratings, side barrier ratings, combined side barrier and pole ratings, and more.
Available Toyota Prius 2016 Submodel Types: Hatchback, Sedan
Available Trims: Two, Three, Four, Base, III, Four Touring, IV, II, Touring, Three Touring, Five, I, Persona Series Special Edition, Standard, V, Two Eco, One
Exterior Colors: Classic Silver Metallic, Blizzard Pearl, Winter Gray Metallic, Barcelona Red Metallic, Black, Sea Glass Pearl, Nautical Blue Metallic, Magnetic Gray Metallic, Hypersonic Red, Midnight Black Metallic, Seaside Pearl, Super White, Blue Crush Metallic, Blue Ribbon Metallic, Millenium Silver Metallic, Sandy Beach Metallic, Spectra Blue Mica, Millenium Silver, Salsa Red Pearl, Silver Pine Mica, Driftwood Pearl, Magnetic Gray, Absolutely Red, Black Cherry Pearl, Brilliant Blue Pearl, Electric Green, Silver Strata Metallic, Tideland Pearl
Interior Colors: Dark Gray cloth, Misty Gray cloth, Bisque cloth, Black leatherette, Moonstone leatherette, Dark Gray leatherette, Moonstone cloth, Gray/Burgundy, Black cloth, Harvest Beige leatherette, Bisque leatherette, Misty Gray leatherette, Gray cloth, Ivory/Brown, Beige cloth, Harvest Beige cloth, Misty Gray leather, Bisque leather, Black Softex leatherette, Charcoal leatherette, Dark Gray leather
Popular Features: Auto Climate Control, Rear Bench Seats, Trip Computer, Audio and cruise controls on steering wheel, Fold Flat Rear Seats, Tire Pressure Warning, Stability Control, Aux Audio Inputs, Bluetooth, USB Inputs, Back-up camera, Navigation, Keyless Entry/Start, Upgraded Headlights, Heated seats, Adaptive Cruise Control, Lane Departure Warning, Pre-collision safety system, Power Driver Seat, Blind Spot Monitoring, Parking sensors, Alarm, Upgraded Stereo, Post-collision safety system, Sunroof/Moonroof, Heads up display, Leather Seats, Automatic Emergency Braking