2016 Toyota Prius spy shots
The fourth-generation Toyota Prius has been spotted testing in prototype form, revealing a familiar form for the latest version of the world’s most popular hybrid. However, while the exterior is likely to feature only evolutionary changes (much of the design is dictated by aerodynamics), under the skin we’re expecting plenty of advancements.
Looking at this prototype, which was spotted testing in the U.S., we can clearly see that the new Prius will sit lower and feature a sleeker profile than the current model. One of the shots even has the two generations sitting next to each other. Inside, it looks like Toyota is going for a more conventional dashboard layout. Gone are the central gauges of previous models, though it looks like a dash-mounted gear lever is still present.
Toyota was meant to show its new Prius at the 2015 Detroit Auto Show back in January but delays mean we’re not going to see it until later this year or perhaps even in early 2016. The new Prius is currently thought to be launching on the market as a 2016 model.
Part of the reason for the delay is the adoption of the new modular platform known as the Toyota New Global Architecture (TNGA). In designing the platform, Toyota engineers focused on reducing the weight and size of certain components, while at the same time increasing overall body rigidity thanks to higher strength materials and new laser welding techniques.
The new Prius is expected to continue with a nickel-metal-hydride battery pack in a base model, with an optional lithium-ion battery in a more expensive model that may offer better fuel economy. All-wheel drive has long been rumored as another option.
Lighter weight, an improved Hybrid Synergy Drive system and a sleeker shape should all add to improved fuel economy for the new Prius. The current model returns an EPA-rated 50 mpg combined. Somewhere around 60 mpg combined for the 2016 model is likely for the basic hybrid, though a more frugal plug-in hybrid version will be launched once again. We can also expect new versions of the Prius C and Prius V at some point as well.