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2016 Toyota Prius Four Touring Review By John Heilig

2016 Toyota Prius Four (select to view enlarged photo)
2016 Toyota Prius Four

By John Heilig
Senior Editor
Mid Atlantic Bureau
The Auto Channel

MODEL: 2016 Toyota Prius Four Touring
ENGINE: 1.8-liter DOHC I-4
HORSEPOWER/TORQUE: 95 hp @ 5,200 rpm (121 net hp)/105 lb.-ft. @ 3,600 rpm
WHEELBASE: 106.3 in.
LENGTH X WIDTH X HEIGHT: 178.7 x 69.3 x 58.1 in.
TIRES: P215/45R17
CARGO CAPACITY: 27.4 cu. ft.
ECONOMY: 54 mpg city/50 mpg highway/50.6 mpg test
FUEL TANK: 11.3 gal.
CURB WEIGHT: 3,080 lbs.
COMPETITIVE CLASS: Chevrolet Volt, Ford C-MAX Hybrid, Honda Accord Hybrid
STICKER: $31,743 (includes $835 delivery, $908 options) 

BOTTOM LINE: The fourth generation Prius is distinctly different from Gen 3. It is visually attractive and is even more economical.

First, a bit about nomenclature. Prius, which is developing into a separate Toyota nameplate, much like Scion was, has six different grades, with the Prius Prime due to debut in 2017. At the bottom of the list is the entry level Prius Two. The Prius Two Eco is for buyer looking for greater fuel economy. The Prius Three adds convenience and technology features. Prius Three Touring is for buyers looking for a more dynamic driving experience. Prius Four is top-of-the-line, while Prius Four Touring tops even that. Still, with all the goodies and $908 in optional accessories, the Prius Four Touring comes with a reasonable sticker of $31,743. 

Redesigned to be longer, lower and wider, the Prius Four totally blows away the Gen Three car when they’re parked next to each other. A redesigned headlight and taillight package is richer looking, and the package has a more elegant appeal. It qualifies as a mid-size, and it’s a good size.

There is good visibility from both front and rear seats. Small “wing windows” tucked into the corner of the A-Pillar are a big help. Similarly, larger additional windows to the rear of the rear windows give rear passengers a good view of what’s going on around them. However, because of the design, there is a bar across the hatch/liftback that does obscure rear vision somewhat. In rain, the upper half can be almost impossible to see through, while the lower half is clear. 

Interior surfaces are soft, with hard surfaces around the infotainment package (black) and around the shifter and center console (white). Here was my one big gripe about Prius styling. The white hard plastic used here cheapens the look of the car. A consistent black on the interior would have been much nicer, to my eyes.

I like the shifter. Mounted on the center stack, it is a small knob. Push it to the left and down to drive; to the left and up for reverse. There is a “P”for Park button to the left of the shifter when you want to begin shutting down. I felt the P could have used more contrast, although it doesn’t take long to remember where it is. 

To continue the nit picking, the Oi compatible wireless smart phone and mobile device charger on the center console didn’t charge my phone. So I used it for a small cubby.

But Prius is all about economy, and the Prius Four delivers that in spades. For one of the few times in my experience, I was able to even approach the EPA estimates for economy, with a 50.6 mpg overall rating. We put a lot of miles on the Prius and only had to spend less that $10 to fill the tank at the end.

Performance is very good. Acceleration is very good from the electric motor and a basically quiet small four cylinder.  Handling is excellent. I drove it over my favorite winding hillclimb course and had a ball pushing the Prius to perform. With a low center of gravity thanks to the relocated batteries, the Prius corners (almost) like a sports car. The double wish bone rear suspension helps it track through tight  turns. It was fun to drive.

Front seats are comfortable with good side support. That may account for the fun drive through the tight turns. Rear seats offer good legroom. Despite the sloping roof, there is good rear headroom. All four door have assist handles for entry and exit.

There is good cargo capacity, but I had to lower a rear seat back to get my golf clubs in the car. But, you can lower the rear seat backs in this generation Prius due to the relocation of the batteries below the seats. In the rear there are two 4 kg capacity grocery bag hooks and two tie-downs.

The Prius Four is a nice package overall as well as being a good driver. It offers visual improvements over the Gen Three car as well as performance improvements.

(c) 2016 The Auto Page Syndicate 

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