Sign in to follow this  
William Maley

Review: 2016 Toyota Prius Three

5 posts in this topic

When Toyota introduced the Prius into the U.S. back in the early 2000s, it was a different time. Gas prices were quite low and everybody was gobbling up big SUVs like they were going out of style. A small vehicle that got high fuel economy numbers didn’t seem that appealing. But then gas prices rose and consumers began to see the inherent value in the Prius. Before too long, the Prius would become the gold standard of hybrid vehicles. Now with gas prices being somewhat steady again, consumers have gone out and started buying larger vehicles again - in this case, crossovers. But the Prius is still around, welcoming those who want to get the most out of a tank of gas, Last fall, the Prius underwent a massive redesign with the big news being a new platform. Is this Prius still the top hybrid?

The Toyota Prius has never been considered to be a sexy or stylish vehicle. Nor has been considered to be ugly. It has just sat in the middle of the design spectrum. Toyota decided to bust the Prius out of that design lull with a very polarizing look for the new model. Standing in front of the Prius for the first time, I thought that it looked like a cat toy. This impression comes from a pointy nose, triangular headlights, and creases in the hood. The side profile follows the ideals set by the last-generation model with some aggression. There is sculpting along the doors and rear fenders. 

The Prius’ interior always looked and felt like an afterthought with a dreary design and cheap materials. Thankfully, Toyota moved the interior up the priority list for the forth-generation Prius and it shows. Stepping inside, you can tell there is a noticeable improvement in material quality. Many surfaces are covered with soft-touch plastics. The center stack and console feature contrasting black and white plastic trim. The white trim is an interesting choice and might make some people think that Toyota’s designers watched a bit too much Star Wars when working on the Prius.

Compared to the last Prius, the new model is considerably more comfortable and you could do a long trip without having any issues. The front seats have been lowered slightly and the setback has been slightly angled back. The back seat is slightly smaller than the previous-generation - legroom is down two inches. But an average-sized adult should fit with no issues. Cargo space has been increased to 24.6 cubic feet behind the rear seats.

On the technology front, the Prius has seen some major improvements. The center mounted instrument cluster with graphics commonly seen on a microwave has been ditched for a new setup with two color screens. The left screen handles speed and basic trip information. The one on the right shows driving data, a powertrain diagram, and tips on improving overall fuel economy. The displays are very vibrant and easy to read at a quick glance. Below that lies a seven-inch touchscreen with Toyota’s Entune infotainment system. Entune’s interface looks slightly dated to competitors and getting into the navigation system is a bit of a mess - you hit the apps button and then hit navigation on the touchscreen. Still, we think Entune is one of the easier systems to use and is quite fast.

The powertrain for the Prius is comprised of a 1.8L Atkinson-Cycle four-cylinder engine and two electric motors/generators. Total output stands at 121 horsepower and 105 pound-feet of torque. The base Prius Two sticks with a nickel-metal hydride battery, while higher trims - like our Three - get a compact lithium-ion battery pack. A CVT routes power to the front wheels. The Prius does take its sweet time to get up speed on the highway and rural roads. This also means you’ll need to plan your passes carefully. But the Prius does zip around the city with no issues - the electric motors offer instantaneous torque and the gas engine is ready to kick in when more power is needed. One improvement we’re glad to see is how much further you can just travel in EV mode. Keep a light foot on the accelerator and you’ll be able to travel a fair distance on just the battery alone. The CVT keeps itself in check most of the time. The only time it makes itself noticeable is during hard acceleration.

The 2017 Toyota Prius Three is rated by the EPA at 54 City/50 Highway/52 Combined. Our average for the week was a very surprising 60.2 mpg with most of our driving done in the city.

The Prius has never been known for being a decent handling vehicle. Going back through our previous Prius reviews, we have complained about the poor body control and steering that felt like you were stretching a rubber band. But the new Prius is quite shocking. Going around a corner, the Prius doesn’t show any real sign of body roll. Steering has some decent heft and feels more natural. What happened? A lot of the credit has to go to the new underpinnings of the Prius - Toyota New Global Architecture (TGNA). This architecture introduces a new chassis design for the Prius, along with a lower center of gravity. Toyota will be introducing this architecture on other models in the future and it looks to be a winner. One area that the Prius is still struggling is the brakes. The pedal still has a vague feeling and you can’t help but wonder if the vehicle will come to a stop.

Toyota has made sure the Prius was still a comfortable car to do the daily grind. Over potholed roads, the Prius’ suspension was able to soak up bumps without them making their way inside. Wind noise is almost nonexistent with a low coefficient of drag of 0.24 probably helping. Road noise is another matter as a fair amount comes inside. The combination of low-rolling resistance tires and not enough sound deadening material on the floor are the possible causes.

Toyota could have just rested on their laurels and keep the basic formula that has served the Prius for many years. But instead, Toyota made some massive changes to the Prius and it has resulted in making the model become more well-rounded. The design will not appease everyone and the Prius could do with a little bit more power. But the changes made to the interior and chassis along with the impressive fuel economy more than overshadow these issues. The Prius is not only the hybrid that stands above the rest, it has finally moved on from a science fair experiment to an actual vehicle.

Disclaimer: Toyota Provided the Prius, Insurance, and One Tank of Gas

Year: 2016
Make: Toyota
Model: Prius
Trim: Three
Engine: 1.8L DOHC 16-Valve VVT-i Four-Cylinder, Electric Motor
Driveline: Continuously Variable Transmission, Front-Wheel Drive
Horsepower @ RPM: 95 @ 5,200 (Gas), 121 (Total)
Torque @ RPM: 105 @ 3,600 
Fuel Economy: City/Highway/Combined - 54/50/52
Curb Weight: 3,050 lbs
Location of Manufacture: Aichi, Japan
Base Price: $26,250
As Tested Price: $29,842 (Includes $835.00 Destination Charge)

Options:
Advanced Technology Package - $1,935.00
Body Side Molding - $289.00
Carpet Floor Mats/Cargo Mat - $225.00
Door Edge Guards - $125.00
Rear Bumper Applique - $69.00
Wheel Locks - $65.00
Cargo Net - $49.00


View full article

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Great write up, glad to see they are continuing to improve the car line.

Now if they could just do something about that face!

A face only a Mother could love. :nono:

  • Upvote 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Your content will need to be approved by a moderator

Guest
You are commenting as a guest. If you have an account, please sign in.
Reply to this topic...

×   Pasted as rich text.   Paste as plain text instead

  Only 75 emoticons maximum are allowed.

×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.

Sign in to follow this  



  • Similar Content

    • By William Maley
      The Toyota Highlander may not be the flashiest or fun to drive. But it has many qualities to make it one of Toyota’s best selling models such as functional and spacious interior, long list of standard equipment, and high-reliability marks. Last year, Toyota unveiled an updated Highlander with tweaks to the exterior, revised V6, and more safety. Considering it has been a few years since we last checked out the Highlander, it seemed a revisit was in order.
      The 2017 Highlander boasts new front and rear fascias to give it a more SUV-appearance and we think Toyota has mostly succeeded in this regard. The only issue is the front end reminding us too much of a Cylon from the original Battlestar Galactica TV. Thank the new grille design for this. Move inside and the Highlander is the same as we last saw it back in 2014 when we did our original review. This is both good and bad. The good is that the controls for the various functions are easy to use. The center console features a huge storage bin that you can easily fit a large purse or a laptop computer. A shelf underneath climate controls provides a nice space to throw small items such as a smartphone. The bad is that the controls for certain functions are not in easy reach for the drive. We also not fans of the capacitive touch buttons around the 8-inch touchscreen as they didn’t always respond. There were times we found ourselves hitting the buttons two to three times to get something to happen. The infotainment system itself is beginning to look somewhat dated with an interface that looks like it comes from the Windows XP era and the screen is somewhat dim. But we cannot argue that the system is easy to use thanks to a simple layout. Passengers sitting in the front and second-row seats will appreciate the large amount of head and legroom on offer. Also, the seats themselves are padded quite nicely. We do wish the second-row was mounted slightly higher for better long-distance comfort. The third-row seat as the seats aren’t that comfortable due to the thin amount of padding. Legroom is also quite tight with only 27.7-inches of space, meaning this is a space best reserved for small kids. Most Highlanders like our XLE AWD tester will feature Toyota’s latest 3.5L V6 that comes with direct and port fuel-injection and an upgraded valve train. The end result is 295 horsepower and 263 pound-feet of torque - up 25 and 15 respectively. This is paired with a new eight-speed automatic. Other engines include a four-cylinder for the base LE and a hybrid powertrain. Toyota’s V6 engine is one our favorites as it provides impressive acceleration and a steady stream of power up to redline. This updated engine is no exception as it feels slightly quicker than the last Highlander we drove.  The powertrain stumbles somewhat due to the eight-speed automatic’s programming. Toyota went for something that focuses on fuel economy which means the transmission is quick to upshift, but slow to downshift. This means you’ll be waiting for a moment or two for the transmission to get its act together when trying to merge onto a freeway. You might be fooled into thinking that you’re riding in a Lexus considering the smooth ride of the Highlander. Bumps are turned into minor ripples. Little road and wind noise that come inside. The Highlander is a vehicle you want to keep in its comfort zone when it comes to handling. Push it in a corner and you’ll experience excessive body roll. One thing Toyota deserves credit for the 2018 Highlander is having a number of active features standard across the entire Highlander lineup. This includes adaptive cruise control, automatic high beams, pre-collision warning with pedestrian detection and automatic braking; and lane departure warning with lane keep assist. The only item we would like to see added to this list is blind spot monitoring. You can only get it on XLE models and above. Disclaimer: Toyota Provided the Highlander, Insurance, and One Tank of Gas
      Year: 2017
      Make: Toyota
      Model: Highlander
      Trim: XLE AWD
      Engine: 3.5L DOHC D-4S with Dual VVT-i V6
      Driveline: Eight-Speed Automatic, 
      Horsepower @ RPM: 295 @ 6,600
      Torque @ RPM: 263 @ 4,700
      Fuel Economy: City/Highway/Combined - 20/26/22
      Curb Weight: 4,430 lbs
      Location of Manufacture: Princeton, Indiana
      Base Price: $39,980
      As Tested Price: $43,184 (Includes $960.00 Destination Charge)
      Options:
      Rear Seat BluRay Entertainment System - $1,810.00
      Carpet Floor Mats & Cargo Mat - $225.00
      Body Side Molding - $209.00

      View full article
    • By William Maley
      The Toyota Highlander may not be the flashiest or fun to drive. But it has many qualities to make it one of Toyota’s best selling models such as functional and spacious interior, long list of standard equipment, and high-reliability marks. Last year, Toyota unveiled an updated Highlander with tweaks to the exterior, revised V6, and more safety. Considering it has been a few years since we last checked out the Highlander, it seemed a revisit was in order.
      The 2017 Highlander boasts new front and rear fascias to give it a more SUV-appearance and we think Toyota has mostly succeeded in this regard. The only issue is the front end reminding us too much of a Cylon from the original Battlestar Galactica TV. Thank the new grille design for this. Move inside and the Highlander is the same as we last saw it back in 2014 when we did our original review. This is both good and bad. The good is that the controls for the various functions are easy to use. The center console features a huge storage bin that you can easily fit a large purse or a laptop computer. A shelf underneath climate controls provides a nice space to throw small items such as a smartphone. The bad is that the controls for certain functions are not in easy reach for the drive. We also not fans of the capacitive touch buttons around the 8-inch touchscreen as they didn’t always respond. There were times we found ourselves hitting the buttons two to three times to get something to happen. The infotainment system itself is beginning to look somewhat dated with an interface that looks like it comes from the Windows XP era and the screen is somewhat dim. But we cannot argue that the system is easy to use thanks to a simple layout. Passengers sitting in the front and second-row seats will appreciate the large amount of head and legroom on offer. Also, the seats themselves are padded quite nicely. We do wish the second-row was mounted slightly higher for better long-distance comfort. The third-row seat as the seats aren’t that comfortable due to the thin amount of padding. Legroom is also quite tight with only 27.7-inches of space, meaning this is a space best reserved for small kids. Most Highlanders like our XLE AWD tester will feature Toyota’s latest 3.5L V6 that comes with direct and port fuel-injection and an upgraded valve train. The end result is 295 horsepower and 263 pound-feet of torque - up 25 and 15 respectively. This is paired with a new eight-speed automatic. Other engines include a four-cylinder for the base LE and a hybrid powertrain. Toyota’s V6 engine is one our favorites as it provides impressive acceleration and a steady stream of power up to redline. This updated engine is no exception as it feels slightly quicker than the last Highlander we drove.  The powertrain stumbles somewhat due to the eight-speed automatic’s programming. Toyota went for something that focuses on fuel economy which means the transmission is quick to upshift, but slow to downshift. This means you’ll be waiting for a moment or two for the transmission to get its act together when trying to merge onto a freeway. You might be fooled into thinking that you’re riding in a Lexus considering the smooth ride of the Highlander. Bumps are turned into minor ripples. Little road and wind noise that come inside. The Highlander is a vehicle you want to keep in its comfort zone when it comes to handling. Push it in a corner and you’ll experience excessive body roll. One thing Toyota deserves credit for the 2018 Highlander is having a number of active features standard across the entire Highlander lineup. This includes adaptive cruise control, automatic high beams, pre-collision warning with pedestrian detection and automatic braking; and lane departure warning with lane keep assist. The only item we would like to see added to this list is blind spot monitoring. You can only get it on XLE models and above. Disclaimer: Toyota Provided the Highlander, Insurance, and One Tank of Gas
      Year: 2017
      Make: Toyota
      Model: Highlander
      Trim: XLE AWD
      Engine: 3.5L DOHC D-4S with Dual VVT-i V6
      Driveline: Eight-Speed Automatic, 
      Horsepower @ RPM: 295 @ 6,600
      Torque @ RPM: 263 @ 4,700
      Fuel Economy: City/Highway/Combined - 20/26/22
      Curb Weight: 4,430 lbs
      Location of Manufacture: Princeton, Indiana
      Base Price: $39,980
      As Tested Price: $43,184 (Includes $960.00 Destination Charge)
      Options:
      Rear Seat BluRay Entertainment System - $1,810.00
      Carpet Floor Mats & Cargo Mat - $225.00
      Body Side Molding - $209.00
    • By William Maley
      We had high hopes for the Hyundai Tucson when we did a first drive back in August 2015. But when we did our full review last April, we ended it by saying the model wasn’t “the slam dunk we thought it was.” This was due to some key issues such as a small cargo area, a tough value argument and a dual-clutch transmission having some hesitating issues. A year later, we find ourselves revisiting the Tucson. There has been a software update to the transmission, along with some minor changes to the infotainment system and interior.
      A quick refresher on the Tucson’s powertrain lineup: A 2.0L four-cylinder producing 164 horsepower and 151 pound-feet of torque is used on the base SE and SE Plus. The rest of the Tucson lineup features a turbocharged 1.6L four-cylinder with 175 horsepower and 195 pound-feet of torque. A six-speed automatic comes standard on the 2.0L, while the turbo 1.6 gets a seven-speed dual-clutch transmission. The engine does show some turbo lag when leaving a stop, but it will soon pick up steam and move the Tucson at a pretty decent rate. The engine doesn’t feel overtaxed when you need to make a pass. The seven-speed dual-clutch transmission still has issues. While Hyundai has reduced some of the hesitation issues we experienced in the last Tucson via a software update, there is still a fair amount of this when leaving from a dead stop. We also noticed some rough upshifts during our week. At least the ride and handling characteristics have not changed since our last test. The Tucson still provides one of the smoothest rides in the class, even with the Limited’s 19-inch wheels. It doesn’t flinch when going around a corner as body motions are kept in check. A Mazda CX-5 would be more fun to drive as it is quicker when transitioning from one corner to another and the steering has the right amount of weight and feel. Road and wind noise are kept to very acceptable levels. The interior remains mostly unchanged except for a couple of minor things. The 8-inch touchscreen system now features Android Auto and Apple CarPlay compatibility. We’re impressed with how fast the system was able to find the iPhone and bring up the CarPlay interface. The other change deals with more soft-touch materials being added to various parts of the interior. There is still a fair amount of hard plastics, even on the high-end Limited model which is very disappointing. There is still a lot to like about the Tucson’s interior. Space is plentiful for those sitting in the front or rear seats, even with the optional panoramic sunroof. The list of standard equipment is quite extensive as well. Limited models get automatic headlights, power and heated front seats, an 8-speaker Infinity sound system, dual-zone automatic climate control, proximity key with push-button start, and blind-spot monitoring. Cargo space still trails competitors with only 31 cubic feet with the rear seats up and 61.9 cubic feet when folded. The CR-V offers 35.2 and 70.9 cubic feet respectively. The Limited seen here came with a $35,210 as-tested price, which is about average for a fully-loaded crossover in this class. But the Tucson becomes a bit of a tough sell when dropping to the lower trims as you cannot get certain features. As we noted in our full review last year, “if you want navigation or dual-zone climate control on the Sport, you’re out of luck.” Despite some of the changes made for 2017, our verdict is much the same as the 2016 Tucson. There is a lot to like about the Tucson, but there are still some issues the company needs to address - smoothing out the dual-clutch and trying to make the model a better value.  
      Disclaimer: Hyundai Provided the Tucson, Insurance, and One Tank of Gas
      Year: 2017
      Make: Hyundai
      Model: Tucson
      Trim: Limited AWD
      Engine: Turbocharged 1.6L GDI Four-Cylinder
      Driveline: Seven-Speed Dual-Clutch Automatic, All-Wheel Drive
      Horsepower @ RPM: 175 @ 5,500
      Torque @ RPM: 195 @ 1,500-4,500
      Fuel Economy: City/Highway/Combined - 24/28/25
      Curb Weight: 3,686 lbs
      Location of Manufacture: Ulsan, South Korea
      Base Price: $31,175
      As Tested Price: $35,201 (Includes $895.00 Destination Charge)
      Options:
      Ultimate Package - $2,750.00
      Cargo Cover - $190.00
      Reversible Cargo Tray - $100.00 
      Rear Bumper Applique - $70.00
      First Aid Kit - $30.00
  • My Clubs

  • Who's Online (See full list)