Why is this important?, you ask. After all, I just want some serious fuel savings.
In case you haven’t noticed, oil prices have plummeted and folks are back to their giant SUV and truck purchasing ways. Not to mention a major increase in sales of performance cars that now exceed 500-700 horsepower!
When the emotional “want” needle shifts towards vehicles people have on their “dream vehicle”
So what does that mean? While it does a lot of things well, Prius models have never come close to being fun to drive. Steering on previous generation models is slow and somewhat imprecise, handling is sloppy, especially during evasive maneuvers, and the joy quotient as it relates to pleasure driving hovered at the 5 out of 10 mark.
Under the restyled body lies Toyota’s New Global Architecture (TNGA), an integrated approach to developing new platforms and powertrains. In the case of the 2016 Prius, the platform introduces a high-strength body structure, a new double-wishbone independent rear suspension and low centre of gravity to enhance driving dynamics to a level that speaks more German than Japanese. In a word, the new Prius is fun.
To prove that the engineers weren’t blowing smoke in strange places, Toyota set up a Gymkhana course on a runway at the retired “El Toro” Marine Corps Air Station near Irvine, California. First up was the previous gen Prius, and it plodded through the tight, fast course as best as it could. Plenty of body roll and understeer was exhibited by the less-than-capable chassis. “About what I expected,” was my assessment.
Time for the 2016 model, and all of my “average” Prius thoughts flew out of the redesigned
Honestly, I could not believe what had just happened, so I started the whole process over – again with the previous model and then with the new – with the same results. I ended up driving the 2016 repeatedly to try and improve my track time!
During on-road drives, the new Prius is equally impressive. Most notably, Prius is now considerably quieter than older models. Not that hybrids are noisy to begin with,
My overall assessment of ride quality and handling is an “A” grade for the Prius. Kudos for using the low centre of gravity battery pack to its benefit, by adding proven suspension geometry and a stiffer shock absorber profile. Well done, Toyota!
As mentioned earlier, the other variable that was either loved or hated on previous
The new Prius is 61 mm (2.4 inches) longer, 15 mm (0.6 inches) wider and 20 mm (0.8 inches) lower than the model it replaces, while it rides on the same 2,700-mm (106.3-inch) wheelbase. It’s more revolutionary than evolutionary, in my opinion, as it now looks as cool as a Toyota Corolla, yet those who loved the old model’s styling are still clearly in the corner of the new 2016 Toyota Prius.
In terms of comfort, safety and convenience content, the new Prius is loaded. Again, Toyota has taken the new Prius to another level. Standard exterior features on the top-of-the-line Touring include 17-inch alloy wheels; Bi-LED projector low- and high-beam headlights with LED accent lights and auto-off; LED Daytime Running Lights, taillights and stop lights; heated power-adjustable outside mirrors with a folding feature; active grille shutters; a Smart-Flow climate control system with pollen filtration; a backup camera; a 4.2-inch colour dual multi-information display with customizable screens including an energy monitor, hybrid system indicator and Eco Score, driver support systems, audio system content, and navigation system content; Bluetooth; digital instrumentation; proximity-sensing Smart
Available Prius features include smart technologies to help take the stress out of parking.
Under the hood, Toyota’s venerable 1.8-litre engine continues duty, coupled to a permanent magnet electric motor and lithium-ion battery storage. Acceleration from the combined gas/electric propulsion system is brisk, yet the Prius returns an impressive 4.4 L/100km city, 4.6 highway and 4.5 combined rating.
Prius pricing starts at just $25,995 for the base Prius, $28,730 for the Technology, and just $29,330 for the tested Prius Touring.
Safety, performance, technology and supreme fuel economy in a fun-to-drive, great handling, stylish package. Is the 2016 Prius Touring a good buy?
Without a doubt, it’s a great buy.
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