Toyota's all-new, fourth-generation Prius is here, promising better fuel economy, more equipment, more luggage capacity and a more enjoyable behind-the-wheel experience.
The price has jumped slightly for the base model Prius, with the range now starting $2500 higher at $34,990 for the standard Toyota Prius. At the other end of the scale prices have dropped by $1000, bringing the more feature-rich Prius i-Tech down to $42,990.
The standard Prius' price rises are compensated for by a fatter standard equipment list, with high-end gear like a colour head-up display, an inductive loop phone charging pad, TFT instrument panel, bi-LED headlamps and an electro-chromatic rear view mirror new for the 2016 model.
Standard safety equipment for all models includes a pre-collision safety system, lane departure warning, auto high beam and active cruise control
Step up into the range-topping Prius i-Tech and yougain blind spot monitoring, rear cross traffic alert, leather-accented upholstery, a digital radio tuner and 17-inch alloy wheels.
The high-voltage battery pack remains a nickel metal-hydride design, but has shrunk in size and migrated from beneath the boot floor to under the rear seat, freeing up cargo volume.
That results in 502 litres of seats-up boot capacity for the Priusi-Tech, while the base Prius makes do with 457 litres thanks to its spare tyre (the i-Tech gets a can of goo instead).
Under the Prius' bonnet lies a Euro 5 emissions compliant 1.8 litre naturally-aspirated Atkinson Cycle petrol four, producting 72kW of power and 142Nm of torque.
With its CVT transaxle lie two electric motors, one of which acts primarily as the generator and the other as the drive motor. Total power output from both comes in at 53kW while peak torque is 163Nm. The combined power output of the whole petrol-electric shebang is 90kW.
The way the hybrid system operates has also been substantially rejigged, with greater reliance now placed on the electric motors to minimise the running of the petrol engine.
Toyota claims the speed range of the electric motor in EV mode has been increased by 60 percent, which means the new Prius can cruise at 60km/h without having the petrol engine active.
And though the battery pack might be 10 percent smaller than the outgoing model's battery, it absorbs 28 percent more energy in the same amount of time leading to improved charging from regenerative braking and better efficiency.
The end result is a combined fuel economy claim of 3.4 l/100km - 0.5 l/100km better than the outgoing model and a 12.8 percent improvement in fuel consumption.
That's not all that's changed though. The platform that sits beneath the 2016 Prius is Toyota's brand-new TNGA scalable architecture, featuring MacPherson strut front suspension and double-wishbone rear suspension and 60 percent more body rigidity.
Toyota says the new Prius is a more enjoyable car to drive as a result, while also boasting better ride comfort thanks to low-friction suspension bushings, stiffer anti-roll bar linkages and retuned spring and damper settings.
The car's electric power steering has been tuned for better feel and feedback, while also receiving a faster rack ratio for less turns lock-to-lock.
The 2016 Toyota Prius range is on sale now, with pricing as follows:
- Toyota Prius - $34,990
- Toyota Prius i-Tech - $42,990
Prices do not include dealer delivery, registration, or other on-road costs