Toyota fully unveiled its fourth-generation Prius in an outdoor event Tuesday night in Las Vegas. The new Prius is lower, longer, and wider. The vehicle features smaller, lighter hybrid system components; higher energy density in the batteries; and an internal combustion engine with a thermal efficiency of more than 40%.
Toyota did not provide specifics of fuel consumption and electric range, but confirmed that it expected a 10% improvement in EPA-estimated MPG on core models (51 mpg city, 48 mpg highway, 50 mpg combined for MY 2015). Toyota said it will also introduce an Eco model with a larger improvement. Toyota will showcase the new Prius at the IAA in Frankfurt next week.
The Prius went on sale in 1997 as the first mass-produced hybrid passenger vehicle. It changed perceptions and helped raise the status of alternative energy vehicles from niche products to game-changers. As of 31 July 2015, cumulative Prius sales exceeded 3.5 million vehicles across approximately 80 countries and regions. The new Prius will go on sale in Japan at the end of 2015, and is subsequently scheduled for successive launches around the world.
|Toyota hoist and then lowered the new Prius to the backdrop of Las Vegas’ neon and Caesars Palace casino. “It’s not just about MPG anymore,” said Toyota. Click to enlarge.|
Prius set the global benchmark for hybrids, but now is breaking its own boundaries with more engaging style and fun-to-drive dynamics. What was once a rational purchase that for many customers focused on fuel economy, is now so much more. This Prius will invite new drivers into the category by delivering an impressive look and feel, built on the foundation of safety and eco-consciousness that define the vehicle’s heritage.—Bill Fay, group vice president and general manager, Toyota Division
The new model inherits the nameplate’s signature triangular silhouette which, combined with a low center of gravity, results in an angular design. The top of the roof has been lowered by 20 mm and moved forwards, while the engine hood has also been lowered to create a stylish outline. Character lines run along the side from the front fenders—one just above the sill that sweeps up towards the rear fender, while the upper crease morphs into the rear spoiler, which has been lowered.
New standard LED headlamps minimize the Prius’ front fascia; the rear combination lamps express distinctive lines from the rear spoiler to the trailing edges of the sides.
A palette of seven exterior colors includes an all-new Toyota hue, “Hypersonic Red.” This new color utilizes a newly developed treatment process, which results in a deep and vibrant luster highlighting the external forms.
The 2016 Prius is the first global vehicle to implement Toyota’s New Global Architecture (TNGA). (Earlier post.) TNGA aims to greatly improve core vehicle performance and enhance product appeal through an integrated development program for powertrain components and vehicle platforms. Development of vehicles is being grouped to promote strategic sharing of components with the goal of improving resource efficiency by better than 20%. Resources will be directed into developing advanced technologies, and further strengthening product appeal.
The new Prius is 2.4 inches longer, 0.6 inches wider and 0.8 inches lower than the model it replaces, providing a planted on-road presence while delivering more occupant and cargo room.
The new Prius features a chassis that is 60% more rigid, while the powertrain unit’s lower placement and low center of gravity has increased the vehicle’s stability and comfort. The height of the Prius’ front badge is exactly the same as that of Scion’s FR-S sports car—an achievement in height and mass reduction.
The all-new rear double wishbone suspension produces a better connection to the road, providing greater control and feedback in all driving conditions. The more rigid body helps improve responsiveness while cornering.
TNGA also provides a more rigid structural framework to help enhance occupant protection in the event of a collision. The high strength upper body is designed to distribute frontal collision impact energy. Plus, the Prius will be among the first US models to offer Toyota Safety Sense (TSS), a new multi-feature advanced safety package anchored by automated pre-collision braking. TSS bundles cutting edge safety technologies including:
- Pre-Collision System with Pedestrian Detection
- Lane Departure Alert with Steering Assist
- Full-Speed Dynamic Radar Cruise Control
- Automatic High Beams
Available on the new Prius, Toyota aims to make Toyota Safety Sense available across nearly the entire vehicle lineup by the end of 2017.