According to a Detroit Free Press interview with Toyota USA boss Jim Lentz, the forthcoming next-generation Prius will be built on the company’s “Toyota New Global Architecture” platform, and will be more fun to drive and more fuel-efficient.
It wouldn’t take much to make the Prius a more engaging driver, given that the current model is the archetype of a vehicular appliance. We’re curious to see how much more efficiency Toyota can squeeze out of its gas-electric drivetrain: the 2015’s NRCan fuel consumption ratings stand at a thrifty 4.6/4.9 L/100 km (city/highway). In that Free Press chat, Lentz shot down media reports that the 2016 model would bring a 15 percent improvement, calling that figure inaccurate.
Lentz confirmed that even with lower gas prices taking a chunk out of hybrid demand, Toyota is still committed to developing future hybrid tech, saying that gas prices are bound to go up again and drive up demand once again for all fuel-efficient vehicles.
He did confirm that the new car will have a lower centre of gravity and boast better looks and handling. This article at Green Car Reports suggests that AWD might be on the menu for at least one future Prius variant, which could be a tie-in with the C-HR hybrid crossover concept Toyota showed at last year’s Paris auto show.
With the Prius liftback being the most popular version of the car in the USA, expect it to be the body style worn by the 2016 model; the slower-selling Prius C, Prius V and plug-in models would get their updates later in the product cycle. Expect the new Prius to get its official unveiling this fall at either the Tokyo or Los Angeles auto shows.