2016 Toyota Prius review with video
Base price: $25,995 + taxes
As tested: $26,585 + taxes
City fuel economy: 4.4 L/100 kms
Highway fuel economy: 4.6 L/100 kms
Competition: Chevy Volt, Ford Fusion Hybrid, Honda Civic Hybrid, etc
Since 1997, Toyota has been leading the charge on hybrid vehicles and the Prius is now an internationally recognizable, eco-friendly choice. But, needless to say, it’s not been known as a zippy little number. Toyota is working hard to change that with its fourth generation, totally redesigned 2016 Prius. It’s longer, wider, lower, sportier, sleeker… and yet, more efficient. Let’s break that down a little and see if Toyota’s managed to crack the efficient yet fun to drive nut.
First up, you’ll notice a much more aggressive look from the exterior. It’s not for everyone but you can’t deny that it cuts a more striking pose among a sea of bland sedans. Once I stepped inside, I found things were much less interesting. The interior on our entry-level tester was boring and rather haphazard with an old-fashioned digital clock chucked into the central display, hidden controls for the heated seats and high-gloss white plastics that look more like a storm trooper’s helmet than the interior of a modern day car.
I am, however, impressed by the raft of standard features that you get on the base model: a 6 inch touch screen infotainment system, Bluetooth connectivity, air conditioning, a smart key with push button start, rear back-up camera and LED headlamps. You’ll also find very comfortable seats, a fairly spacious second row and some clever new kit that’s working hard behind the scenes to make this car as efficient as ever. A couple of the more geeky things that stood out for me include a new exhaust recirculation system that gets the engine temperature up to peak operating efficiency more quickly and an automatic front grille shutter that will close when the radiator doesn’t need cooling which helps lower the drag of the vehicle. See what I mean?!
The result is an amazingly good 4.6 litres per 100 kilometres in our week of driving through the city, on the highway, on gravel roads and more. Those numbers, according to Toyota, make it the most efficient non-plug-in car available in Canada right now. And Toyota has made this a a more interesting drive, too. You can now cycle between three modes – eco, normal and power – which prioritizes efficiency and zippiness accordingly. A lower centre of gravity, improved suspension and increased stiffness don’t hurt either. And it seems Toyota is getting their continuously variable transmissions tweaked so they’re not as susceptible to irritating surging. But, all that said, don’t get into this car expecting a sports car. It’s waaaay better than it was, but is a far cry from a performer. I found off the line the Prius was pretty quick and power around town was more than adequate but it lacks juice once up to highway speed.
From a family perspective, you’ll find the Prius fits car seats in the second row quite easily thanks to its increased length. And smaller, more efficient batteries can now be stored under the second row rather than under the trunk which gives you improved cargo capacity. The Prius’ hatchback-style trunk soaks up a decent amount of gear but we took this car out for a weekend long road trip and it quickly filled to the gills with kid stuff. The Prius V wagon makes a lot more sense for families, especially those with a dog.
All in all, you’re getting a well-equipped and incredibly efficient family car for a pretty good price with the new Prius. The new fourth generation is better than ever. But don’t let the flashy exterior fool you, the interior is still rather dull. The driving feel, on the other hand, might surprise you.
Family Wheels driver comfort score: 3.5/5
Family Wheels interior layout score: 3/5
Family Wheels infotainment system score: 4/5
Family Wheels interior noise score: 3.5/5
Family Wheels performance score score: 3.5/5
Family Wheels rear passenger score: 3.5/5
Family Wheels trunk test score: 4/5
Family Wheels fuel economy score: 5/5
Family Wheels build quality score: 3.5/5
Family Wheels value score: 4/5
Family Wheels overall score: 37.5/50= 75%