2016 Toyota Prius Hybrid i-Tech

By Jaedene Hudson on 25 October 2016
2016 Toyota Prius Hybrid

Engine
Transmission
Fuel Economy
16.4 L/ 100km
Output
ANCAP rating

Not Tested

What is it?

This is the fourth generation of Toyota's Prius hybrid – a car that uses a petrol engine and an electric motor together to reduce fuel consumption and emit fewer nasty gases into the atmosphere.

What models are there?

There are two versions – the Prius and the Prius i-tech. The regular Prius is priced from $34,990 (plus on-road costs) while the i-Tech starts from $42,990 (+ORCs). Prices for the new Prius are $2500 more than the previous base model but $1000 less for the i-Tech.

What are its rivals?

This is an interesting question. There are currently no other hybrid competitors to the Prius on sale in Australia expect for its own stablemates, the Corolla and Camry hybrids, or those of its sister company Lexus.

If you're talking fuel consumption, there's nothing that beats the Prius in this price range. There are a few frugal diesel offerings that come close – such as the Volkswagen Golf TDI at 4.9L/100km or smaller petrol city cars such as the Suzuki Celerio which sips just 4.8L/100km. The Corolla hybrid uses 4.1L/100km.

Then there are the electric cars, such as BMW's i3 (uses no fuel but costs twice the price) or Nissan's Leaf (also considerably more expensive).

What do you get?

The base model Prius gains features that were previously only available on the iTech such as a pre-collision safety system, lane departure warning with steering input, automatic high beam and active cruise control. Other new features include a colour head-up display, Qi wireless phone charger (your phone must support inductive charging) and an electro-chromatic rear-view mirror.

Standard equipment includes 17-inch alloy wheels, powered driver's seat, heated front seats, LED lights, adaptive cruise control and auto braking.

The iTech gains blind spot monitoring, rear cross traffic alert, leather-accented coverings and digital radio.

What's changed from the previous model?

The new battery is 10 per cent smaller and can be charged faster. It is now located behind the rear seats, which improves luggage space (457 litres in standard spec, 501L in iTech).

The new version has better fuel economy, too. Fuel consumption drops from 3.9L/100km to 3.4L/100km. With a fuel tank of 43 litres the Prius can, theoretically, travel more than 1250 km on a tank. The new generation Prius now can coast in EV at speeds of up to 105km/h.

It is also longer (4540mm) and wider (+15mm) than the previous model. Redesigned seats have improved head room (front +25.5mm, rear +3mm), the new car also has a lower centre of gravity (-24mm) and improved torsional rigidity (+60 per cent).

What's it like to drive?

So much better! The improved dynamics of the new model are evident even just around town, but head onto a twisty road and it's like chalk and cheese from old to new. This is mostly due to the lighter structure, repositioned battery, wider and lower chassis, and the lower position of the drivetrain.

The new electric-assisted power steering is more direct, is more communicative and has a better feel. The ride is comfortable and not as floaty as the previous generation.

Tyre noise is still evident (especially compared with a Corolla hybrid) but seems to be better than the previous model. You do get a bit of protesting when you push it hard into corners, though that's not surprising given the more eco-friendly compound used in the tyres.

The brake pedal still feels wooden and the initial 'grab', caused by the regenerative braking, takes a bit of getting used too.

What is disappointing, given the car's newfound handling prowess, is that the 1.8-litre four-cylinder petrol engine has less power (73kW versus 100kW previously). The electric motor also drops in performance (53kW versus 73kW). You feel like you have to push the car harder in normal driving situations, which slightly negates the improved fuel economy.

What is interesting is that, despite being detuned for better fuel economy, the engine is still only Euro 5 compliant. Gear changes are smooth, though, and the transition from electric power to engine power is as seamless as before.

The car beeps continuously when reversing, which quickly becomes tiresome. The beeping is not from parking sensors; the car is simply telling you that you are in reverse!

It looks interesting...

'Polarising' is probably an apt word for the reworked exterior styling. While not to my taste, Toyota says the new styling was developed under the theme of 'Iconic Human-tech', a fusion of function, playfulness and emotion.

The front face is certainly different, with curves intersecting hard surfaces, and what Toyota says is "the subtle inclusion of smooth yet sharp character lines".
To point to its improved dynamics, Toyota has placed the emblem at exactly the same height from the road as the Toyota 86 sports car. The emblem is emphasised by a thin upper grille and sleek, sculpted headlamps. The larger, trapezoidal air intakes are now very prominent and the lower parts of the front bumper, as well as the shape of the lower grille and wheel arch, have been designed to direct airflow around and under the body.

What's it like inside?

The interior is a step up in quality and design compared with the previous model. It retains the same uncluttered layout. Despite being an all-new model, it does still look like the previous model. Toyota is certainly not pushing any design boundaries here.

There are new twin 4.2-inch colour TFT displays and padded touch points on the instrument panel, a new three-spoke leather-accented steering wheel with an improved tilt range, seven-inch display audio with two additional speakers (10 in total), newly designed seats (structure and covering) and upgraded door trim.

The i-tech also has different seats with leather-accented coverings and a bigger boot (502 litres).

Our test car came with a white plastic centre console area (see above picture) which we feel lowers the overall tone of the interior.

Should I consider one?

Personally, we'd opt for the Corolla hybrid as a green motoring alternative. It's not as 'look as me' as the Prius, but offers good fuel consumption in a more attractive body. It's more than $16,000 cheaper, too, and while it doesn't get the same level of equipment and is smaller overall, it is much quieter on the road and feels sprightlier.

If you are looking for hybrid that people 'know' is a hybrid, then we'd also suggest looking at a Lexus. The base model CT 200h Luxury is priced from just $38,750 and is a sleeker, more attractive proposition.

 

Quick Facts

Make

Toyota

Model

Prius 2016

Category

Hybrid

Year

2016

Body type

5-door hatchback

Pros

Great fuel economy
Better dynamics
Improved luggage space

Cons

De-tuned engine
Misses out on technology such as Apple/Car Play
Polarising exterior looks

Country of manufacture

Japan

Warranty

3 year/100,000

Available from

25-Oct-16

Priced from

$42,990

Specifications

Engine

Number of cylinders

4

Engine size

1.8 L

Engine aspiration

Hybrid

Fuel

PULP

Claimed max power (kW)

72 plus 53kW (electric) kW @ 5200 rpm

Claimed max torque (Nm)

3600 Nm @ 142 plus 163 (electric) rpm

 

Transmission

Type

CVT

 

Wheels

Driving wheels

Front

Size

17 "

 

Tyres

Size

215/45 R17

 

Dimensions

Kerb weight

1400 kg

Length

4540 mm

Width (including mirrors)

1760 mm

Ground clearance

185 mm

Seating capacity

5

Fuel capacity

47 litres

 

Fuel Consumption

Claimed fuel consumption

3.4 L/100km

CO2Emissions

Euro 5

 

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