First Drive: 2016 Toyota Prius Four
Time is moving fast – the world is changing and electric cars are no longer the future, they are the now. But for some, the term “electric” is still a scary thought – range anxiety is always the major concern. For those still worry about the new generation of cars, luckily, Toyota still has their Prius… it just looks a bit different now.
Maybe if we squished our faces in and crossed our eyes… maybe… just maybe it’ll look good. Honestly though, we’re indifferent – we don’t hate it, but it’s also not our cup of tea. But hey, whatever, our opinion on its appearance is irrelevant, right? You’re the one buying it, not us – we’re here to tell you if it’s a good car or not. Besides, since day one the Prius has always been that different car – 15 years ago it was a bubble, now it’s an alien spacecraft. But there is one thing that’s annoying us – those wheels. When we requested our Prius, we went for the Prius Four – after all, if we’re driving a Prius, we wanted a little flair for the week. Little did we know when our tester arrived wearing what looked like odd designed 15-inch wheel covers and black filler caps where the LED fog lights would go, that we didn’t option up for the Prius Four Touring. Meh.
Oh well – it’s here now. No take backs!
The Prius Four is such an odd trim name – there are 5 others, Two, Two Eco, Three, Three Touring, and then the other Four Touring. Minus the lack of ecstatic’s the Prius Four is handsomely equipped with all the latest techno gadgets that would make a nerd geek out. The Prius is covered head-to-toe in LED’s and is even finished off with this odd swopping continuous line of LED lights. And it gets even more LED crazy when you get inside – LED display’s for days and that’s before we get to the colorful Heads up Display as part of the $1935 Advanced Technology Package.
Toyota has always packaged their cars full of comfort features and the Prius is for sure no exception. Our near top spec Four featured premium comforts like navigation, power adjustable faux leather seats and all the latest safety tech to make your head spin. As part of that previous mentioned Advanced Technology Package, our sampler included lane departure warning, steering assist, forward collision warning and adaptive cruise control.
The interior design while unique is subtle unlike the exterior. The mixed use of white and black plastics is a nice touch, but the quality is of a subpar level – we’d be curious how it’ll all look after fifty thousand miles. Even though the seats sit low to the ground, they’re a great place to be during traffic and still maintain a great view of your surroundings. However, the designers still can’t figure out how to properly locate the heated seat buttons.
The Prius has never been known for its drivability – it’s not exactly a driver’s car to begin with. The new chassis development changes all of that. The new suspension delivers much more control and better ride quality then before. There’s no major bend in the structure – it feels more solid and even though the steering lacks natural feel, it has an overall nice weight and precision. And because our tester arrived with those 15-inch wheels, road impacts when completely unnoticed and the ride was as quiet as quiet can be.
Hush now, we’re not in hurry. At least that’s what you’ll be telling your passengers. 10 seconds to sixty is what we’re looking at from the 1.8-liter engine and electric motor. Combined they produce 121-horsepower. The only way to move is through a continuous variable transmission – when it comes to highway merging the Prius is never to be rushed – it whines and drones like a toddler being told what to do as it works its way up to speed. Thanks to mid-range torque however, the Prius works idealistically in the city with ease of maneuverability around traffic that could be going slower than you.
With being rated at 54 mpg, the Prius is about to be one of the most fuel efficient vehicles on the road. Unlike traditional hybrids, the Prius uses every opportunity to be in electric mode as possible, even at high speeds. There is an EV button to manually place it in electric mode, but will only allow for up to 25 mph and permits about a mile of range on electric only. The transition between electric and gas is extremely quiet, there is a slight vibration when it first switches, but that’s it. To achieve such a high MPG rating, you have to be a continuously committed driver to achieving the highest possible rating – there is even a score on the dash to let you know how you’re doing. Over the course of our week, we behaved, and managed 53 mpg combined which is a hair above the EPA.
There is a lot to love on the all-new Prius – the spacious interior, comfortable amenities, and advance technology is just a few of our favorite things. If you’re still not quite sold on the whole electric car – this is the next best alternative, and it’s not a bad alternative to be had.
|Price (As Tested):|
|2016 Toyota Prius Four:||$28,650|
|1.8-liter Four-Cylinder & Electric Motor- 121-Combined Horsepower – 0-60MPH: ±10.0 seconds|
|EPA MPG: 54/50/52 (city/highway/combined) – SSB Average: 53 MPG’s – Fuel Range: 580 Miles|
|Carpet Floor Mats and Cargo Mat:||$225|
|Special Hypersonic Red Paint:||$395|
|Premium Convenience Package:||$1,705|
|Advanced Technology Package:||$1,935|