Forget Frankfurt, LA, and Detroit: Toyota staged the reveal of its fourth-generation Prius hybrid in a ritzy Las Vegas event that put journalists and “social influencers” in the front row to watch the car be lifted into the night sky.
It’s an interesting counterpoint, showing off a car renowned for efficiency and frugality in a city defined by over-the-top excess. But then, Toyota says “today’s customers want all the traditional benefits of a hybrid, but don’t want to compromise on looks and performance,” and so the car wears what its maker calls “emotional” styling around a more upscale interior and a more entertaining chassis.
Calling the new Prius’ look “emotional” sounds impressive, but it’s telling that the only photo attached to the press release that landed in our inbox shows the front of the car, which looks okay, and exactly like these images leaked by a Taiwanese magazine a few weeks back. Maybe we should’ve seen this coming (or is that going?), but the rear bears a striking resemblance to the Mirai fuel cell car, and it’s definitely not the Prius’ best angle.
This is the first car to use Toyota’s new global architecture (TNGA), which means we’ll be seeing a number of other cars based on this platform. The automaker says the 2016 Prius is 61 mm longer, 15 mm wider, and 20 mm lower than the outgoing car, changes it tells us yield more interior space, and a more planted on-road feel thanks to a lower centre of gravity it wants us to believe is similar to that of the Scion FR-S, all because the Prius’s front Toyota badge is at the same height as the FR-S’s Scion logo. Uh-huh.
Other promises include better road feedback from a new rear double-wishbone suspension, and improved handling and crash safety owing to a more rigid body structure. Collision avoidance systems are available here, too, in Toyota’s Safety Sense (TSS) suite, which bundles pre-collision warning with pedestrian detection, lane departure alert with steering assist, full-speed radar-based dynamic cruise control, and automatic high beams. TSS makes its first appearance in the Prius, with availability across “nearly the entire (Toyota) vehicle lineup” by the end of 2017.
The 2016 Toyota Prius is due in dealerships early next year, with pricing to be announced closer to that time.