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First Drive: 2016 Toyota Prius

New look, new suspension - great mileage and moderate improvements to ride.

by on Nov.23, 2015

The top-line Toyota Prius Four Touring model starts at $30,000 plus delivery fees.

In an era when so many cars have a tendency to look alike, the Toyota Prius has been an unabashed, if somewhat geeky, standout. Of course, it’s what’s below the skin that really makes the difference. The Prius was the world’s first hybrid-electric vehicle when it made its debut in Japan in 1997 and, ever since, it has overwhelmingly dominated that segment worldwide.

But times have changed, and the third-generation Toyota Prius has been losing a lot of sales momentum this year. There are several reasons why, perhaps most notably the sharp slide in fuel prices that has reduced demand for all “green” vehicles. But there are other factors, among other things that geeky design and the less than thrilling ride offered by the old Prius.

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And those are issues Toyota has set out to address with the fourth-generation hybrid. The 2016 Toyota Prius gets a complete, top-to-bottom makeover: new skin, a new platform, a new independent rear suspension — and an updated Hybrid Synergy Drive system that delivers as much as 10% better mileage.


Toyota Aims to Virtually Eliminate Gas-Powered Cars by 2050

Japanese giant focusing on fuel-cell vehicles and hybrids, but not EVs.

by on Oct.14, 2015

Toyota has so far sold just 350 of its Mirai fuel-cell vehicles, but sees major growth ahead.

Toyota Motor Co. wants to virtually eliminate gasoline-powered vehicles from its fleet by 2050, and is betting that hydrogen cars, rather than electric vehicles, will be the long-term answer.

The Japanese maker recently introduced the Mirai, its first retail fuel-cell vehicle, and though sales have so far been measured in the hundreds, the target is to reach 30,000 annually by 2020, and reach even higher in the years beyond.

A number of other automakers are experimenting with hydrogen power; Hyundai already offers a fuel-cell version of its Tucson SUV, and Honda will launch a retail model next year. But most competitors are focusing on a mixed model of green vehicles, with a heavy emphasis on battery-based models, Toyota remains skeptical about the long-term role of electric vehicle technology.


“When we first announced the Mirai, we said we were at the start of the age of hydrogen,” Kiyotaka Ise, a senior managing officer for Toyota Motor Corp., told reporters in Tokyo. “The figure we’ve announced today is ambitious, but it needs to be to keep the ball rolling.”


Toyota Reveals Prius Tech Details

Higher efficiency, updated suspension, controversial design.

by on Oct.13, 2015

The 2016 Toyota Prius.

Five weeks after unveiling the 2016 Toyota Prius at a splashy Las Vegas event, the Japanese maker is finally filling in some of the critical details about the new hybrid-electric vehicle.

Among other things, Toyota claims the drivetrain on the 2016 Prius is significantly more efficient than the outgoing model. And buyers will not have a choice of either conventional nickel-metal hydride batteries or a more advanced lithium-ion pack. Improved aerodynamics and weight-saving measures are expected to deliver as much as 10% fuel economy.

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Toyota also is offering a bit closer look at the structure of the 2016 Prius, including details of its new independent rear suspension which is intended to improve the ride and handling of the fourth-generation hatchback.


2016 Toyota Prius Faces Tough New Challenges

Japanese maker hopes to broaden appeal in an era of cheap gas.

by on Sep.09, 2015

Toyota will boost the mileage of the 2016 Prius by 10%, to around 55 mpg.

It’s not only the world’s best-selling hybrid-electric vehicle but has routinely been one of the top sellers overall in green-minded markets like California and Japan. Now, Toyota is launching an all-new version for 2016, but cheap gas prices may be just one reason why the Toyota Prius could face its biggest challenge yet, industry experts warn.

The market has been flooded with hybrid competitors since the Toyota Prius was last redesigned in 2009, along with a variety of other high-mileage options. Meanwhile, sales of battery-based vehicles, in general, have been plunging this year. That helps explain why Toyota is downplaying fuel economy and putting more of an emphasis on the other attributes of the new Prius, including what it promises will be a more fun-to-drive road manner.

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The new model “has a certain presence to it that will appeal to a broader range of buyers,” said Bill Fay, general manager of the Toyota brand in the U.S., following the unveiling of the fourth-generation Prius Tuesday night in Las Vegas.


Toyota Rolls Out 4th Generation Prius, Promises 10% Mileage Increase

2016 Prius is longer, wider, lower - but more conventional in styling.

by on Sep.09, 2015

The 4th generation Toyota Prius rolls out during a splashy preview in Las Vegas Thursday night.

Amidst the glitter and glow of the neon-lit Las Vegas Strip, Toyota put the emphasis on energy efficiency as it unveiled the eagerly anticipated, fourth-generation Prius hybrid Tuesday night.

The world’s first battery-electric vehicle, the Toyota Prius has helped usher in a new era of advanced powertrain technology, but the compact model has been losing momentum at a time when cheap gas has many buyers migrating back to SUVs, pickups and muscle cars. Toyota is again boosting the fuel economy of the Prius, but the 2016 hybrid also is longer, lower, wider and a little more mainstream in appearance.

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“It’s going to expand our appeal,” said Bill Fay, general manager of the Toyota brand in the U.S. Where the original model largely targeted a “practical buyer concerned about fuel economy,” the 2016 Prius “that will appeal to a broader range of buyers.”


Toyota Set to Unveil All-New Prius

New model expected to be larger, more sophisticated, more fuel-efficient.

by on Aug.19, 2015

It's unclear what Toyota has in mind for the next-gen plug-in version of the Prius.

What goes up must come down, something even the world’s most popular hybrid-electric vehicle has experienced in recent months. So, Toyota officials have reason to be excited as they get ready to reveal an all-new version of the Prius next month.

Like virtually all battery-based vehicles, sales of the Prius has been hit by low gas prices in recent months, but it remains the world’s most popular hybrid – and one of the best sellers among all vehicles in the big California market.

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The Toyota Prius hasn’t had a major update in seven years, and early reports suggest the new one will grow longer, get a little more power, improve fuel economy and possible stretch its range in all-electric mode. Some reports indicate an optional lithium-ion battery may also become available on the 2016 Prius.