26 May 2016

Toyota Prius 2016 car review

The Prius is one of the most recognisable hybrid vehicles and underneath lies lots of technology. The latest model is the first Toyota that’s built upon a brand new “Scalable Platform” called Toyota New Global Architecture (TNGA). The 2016 Prius definitely drives better than the previous model and it’s all thanks to the new chassis which has allowed for improved rear suspension setup and also weight distribution benefits from the battery relocation.

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Toyota Prius 2016
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Exterior body changes have drastically improved the aerodynamics and reduced the wind resistance over the previous model. The new auto bi-beam LED headlights with automatic levelling feature a single lens, helping to keep the bonnet height low, whilst also creating a striking appearance from the curved LED DRLs.

There are more striking features on the inside with a large portion of the plastic trim painted white, offering a startling contrast that you’ll either love or loathe. This took me back to the ‘90s when vehicles were personalised by their owners where any plastic trim that could be easily removed was painted.

Super efficient

Prius is all about efficiency and getting the most out of the Hybrid technology whilst using the least amount of power. The hybrid system - the electric motor, transaxle, power control unit and hybrid batteries - is now smaller and lighter. And, it also has a very efficient operating temperate due to lower viscosity engine oil that reduces internal friction and a dual cooling system.

Super smart

The auto air con is smarter, smaller and lighter, and it now uses less power than before. By registering whether the seats are occupied or not, it’s able to adjust ventilation and heating performance accordingly, minimising airflow around empty seats. It also monitors the air con temperature settings, external temperature and amount of sunlight, to calculate the most efficient operating parameters.

Toyota’s Safety Sense package has also been added to the 4th gen Prius as a standard feature. The seven airbags and a ring shaped reinforced frame, provide a stronger cabin safety cell if an accident occurs. While Toyota still awaits a crash test, they’re hoping to achieve a 5 star ANCAP safety rating for the 2016 Prius.

No Plug-in for New Zealand

It’s still a no plug-in hybrid, but after driving around the countryside I found it just does its thing, switching from petrol to electric while consuming small amounts of fuel. Like the Lexus hybrid, it is quite difficult to maintain EV mode as the engine kicks into life as soon as you accelerate more than a quarter of the throttle. And while driving, it did feel as though I should be silently roaming around town transporting paying passenger’s home after a night on the town.

At a glance
Model variants GX (plus Touring package), ZR
Engine 1.8L VVTi petrol
Price $47,490 (GX) - $54,990 (ZR)
ANCAP To be announced 
Power 72 kW, 90 kW combined with electric 
Transmission CVT 
Fuel economy 3.4L/100km 
Towing capacity N/A
 Safety systems 
7 airbags  Emergency Brake Signal
Pre-crash system  Stability Control, ABS with Brake Assist 
Lane Departure Alert  Electronically controlled Brake regeneration 
All-speed Dynamic Radar Cruise Control  Electronic Brakeforce Distribution
Blind spot monitor (ZR only)  Rear cross traffic alert (ZR only)
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