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Toyota anticipates 2016 Prius at 52 mpg combined, 56 mpg with Eco grade

Toyota anticipates that the 2016 Prius (earlier post) will deliver fuel economy ratings of 54 MPG city / 50 MPG highway / 52 MPG combined. (Final EPA figures pending.) A new Eco grade model is expecting ratings of 58 MPG city / 53 MPG highway / 56 MPG combined thanks to lighter weight and further optimized aerodynamics.

As in the third-generation Prius, the Toyota Hybrid Synergy Drive combines the output of a 1.8-liter 4-cylinder gasoline engine and two motor/generators through an electronically controlled planetary-type continuously variable transmission (CVT). The 2016 Prius uses smaller, lighter hybrid components, including a new lithium-ion hybrid battery that replaces the nickel-metal hydride battery (excluding the Prius Two non-Eco grade) in most models. The new battery’s smaller size and flatter shape allow it to be packaged under the rear seat, rather than beneath the luggage area, yielding more cargo space.

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2016 Toyota Prius Four Touring. Click to enlarge.

The new hybrid system operates more efficiently and more quietly and offers a higher level of driving performance than in the previous model. The smaller transaxle and power control unit allow for the auxiliary battery to be installed in the engine compartment. New shift-by-wire technology uses electric signals to transmit shift operations and offers light, fingertip operation from the dash-mounted shifter. A “P” position switch provides one-touch engagement of the parking gear.

The Prius driver can choose between new selectable Normal and Power driving modes. Normal balances both fuel economy and acceleration feel; Power prioritizes acceleration feel.

The new hybrid transaxle and motor use a multi-shaft layout with higher motor speed range and a reduction gear mounted on a parallel shaft to reduce parasitic losses by 20% compared to the previous model. An enhanced DC-DC boost converter contributes to enhanced fuel economy by reducing output current in low-load situations.

The retuned 2ZR-FXE 1.8-liter gasoline engine in the 2016 Prius achieves 40 percent-plus thermal efficiency, due to reduced friction of the rotating assembly and internal parts and improved combustion. On top of that, both the intake and exhaust systems are quieter than before.

Among new features is the cooled Exhaust Gas Recirculation (EGR) system, which operates even at the engine’s maximum output to enable an optimized stoichiometric air/fuel ratio across the entire powerband. A smaller, lighter and quieter hybrid system water pump also does its part to reduce energy consumption.

Getting the engine up to operating temperature quickly is critical to conserving fuel at start-up. In the 2016 Prius, an exhaust heat recirculation system uses the heat of exhaust gases to speed engine coolant warm-up. That in turn allows the hybrid system to stop the engine earlier and more often in the driving cycle when it’s not needed, for example in low-power-demand city driving conditions.

Because the Prius, under certain situations, can operate in battery mode alone, it incorporates a Vehicle Proximity Notification System to help alert pedestrians and cyclists. A small in-vehicle speaker emits a low but noticeable warning tone when traveling below approximately 15 mph, and the sound changes with vehicle speed.

The new Prius comes in six grades: the entry level Prius Two; Prius Two Eco for buyers looking for even greater fuel efficiency and an added dose of technology; the Prius Three adds more convenience and technology features; the Prius Three Touring grade is for buyers looking for a more dynamic driving experience; the top-of-the-line Prius Four; and the Prius Four Touring for drivers who want it all.

Standard features exclusive to the sporty Touring grades include 17-inch five-spoke alloy wheels with P215/45R17 tires, integrated fog lights, LED clearance lamps, and a unique rear bumper treatment.

The new Prius design features a 0.24 coefficient of drag (Cd), among the lowest of current production passenger cars. An automatic grille shutter reduces drag by closing when airflow to the radiator is not needed. It remains closed after a cold start to allow the engine to reach optimal operating temperature quickly, helping to save fuel.

Aero stabilizing fins on the underfloor covers, front quarter window garnish and tail lamps likewise keep air moving in a smooth pattern. Front spats and covers on either side of the fuel tank help prevent airflow from being agitated by the tires and suspension.

The 2016 Prius is equipped with a double wishbone rear suspension. Replacing the previous torsion beam type suspension used on previous models, this new trailing-arm design greatly enhances handling, control and ride comfort and also allows increased luggage space. Soft trailing-arm bushings are tuned specifically to reduce road shock, and bushings on all arm joints reduce friction.

The more rigid structural framework of the TNGA platform also greatly contributes to the high level of handling responsiveness, steering feel and ride quality. Hot-stamped and high tensile steel, which allows for intricate forms that are both lightweight and strong, is used extensively throughout the new Prius body. More extensive use of aluminum components, including the hood and rear doorframes, keeps vehicle weight in check and also helps to reduce the center of gravity. Innovative fastening methods such as laser screw welding and advanced body adhesives help create a rigid structure.

The high strength upper body is designed to distribute frontal collision impact energy. The hood and cowl structure have been optimized for pedestrian protection in certain low speed collisions.

The Electronically Controlled Brake System uses sensors to detect how much the driver is pressing the brake pedal and determines how much brake force is required from the new active hydraulic brake booster. The system coordinates control between the hybrid system’s regenerative braking and the hydraulic brake force. Brake calipers are aluminum.

The new Prius is noticebly quieter. With a lighter, more efficient hybrid system and greater usage of high-strength, light-weight body materials, Toyota was able to significantly increase noise control measures without hurting the vehicle’s fuel economy or performance.

New noise-control features and materials throughout the body, engine compartment and cabin combine to give the 2016 Prius a serene passenger cabin. A sound-insulating laminated windshield glass and numerous new sound absorbers in the dash structure reduce noise intrusion. Higher-grade models feature sound-insulating laminated front door glass, as well.

Below the carpeting lies a significantly thicker floor silencer pad. Above the occupants, a urethane-based headliner, along with the ribbed structure of the front pillar trim, helps absorb sound. No detail was too small to escape attention. For example, labyrinth-style clips in the door drain holes prevent sound from intruding yet still facilitate drainage. Above the occupants, a urethane-based headliner and the ribbed structure of the front pillar trim helps absorb sound.

Attention to the outer body surfaces reduces wind noise at the sources, such as adding rain gutter moldings next to the windshield and improving the transition between the windshield glass and front pillar.

The air conditioning system uses a new, quieter electric compressor, and the Smart-flow (S-FLOW) mode focuses airflow only to areas where occupants are seated in order to help maximize fuel economy and comfort. A pollen-eliminating cabin air filter comes standard. In the Prius Eco grade, heat-insulating IR-cut windshield glass substantially reduces transmission of infrared rays to help ensure a comfortable cabin, especially in the summer. It also reduces the air conditioning system workload, which helps to save fuel. In cold weather, a positive temperature coefficient ceramic heater warms the cabin quickly without relying on the engine coolant to come up to operating temperature.

New Toyota Safety Sense. The high-strength Prius cabin is enhanced for occupant protection in a collision, while inside, a full array of supplemental restraint system (SRS) airbags includes multi-stage driver and front passenger SRS dual-stage front airbags; driver and front passenger SRS side airbags; full-length SRS curtain airbags; a driver SRS knee airbag, and a front passenger SRS seat cushion airbag.

The 2016 Prius is one of the first Toyota models to offer Toyota Safety Sense P, an innovative package of driver assist technologies that, under certain conditions, can detect obstacles and automatically apply braking if necessary to help avoid collisions. The system employs new millimeter-wave radar and a monocular camera sensor to detect pedestrians, vehicles, and lane markers in the surrounding area.

Toyota Safety Sense includes the following functions to support collision avoidance or driving operations:

  • Pre-collision System (PCS) with Pedestrian Detection (PD)
  • Lane Departure Alert (LDA) with Steering Assist (SA)
  • Automatic High-beam (AHB)
  • Full-Speed Dynamic Radar Cruise Control (DRCC); works in stop and go traffic down to a full stop.

Available Intelligent Parking Assist (IPA) also makes its debut outside of Japan in the 2016 Prius. A simple system design using only ultrasonic wave sensors, IPA is activated by the driver to offer automatic steering into parallel parking spaces, or reversing into perpendicular spaces. The system also offers automatic steering to exit a parallel space.

An additional function of the sonar-based Park Assist system, the Toyota-first Intelligent Clearance Sonar provides visible and audible warnings if the driver gets too close to obstacles on the vehicle’s sides. An indicator on the Multi-information Display shows the obstacle’s location, and a warning is issued only when the system judges that there is a possibility of contact with the obstacle.

The manufacturer’s suggested retail price (MSRP) for the 2016 Prius will range from $24,200 for the Prius Two model to $30,000 for the Prius Four Touring. The MSRP for all Prius models does not include the delivery, processing, and handling (DPH) fee of $835. The DPH fee for vehicles distributed by Southeast Toyota (SET) and Gulf States Toyota (GST) may vary.

Comments

Bobcom52

Tell me about it when this car can do at least 50 miles before the motor is turned on and is plug in. This is little more than a fossil fuel car with an electric turbocharger.

Lad

Bob:
That's what it has always been; a parallel hybrid with a anemic battery system. Sounds as if you are a Volt fan...a serial hybrid fan.

SJC

The new Accord hybrid is rated at 50 mpg city, it is a mid sized car.

Mike999

Where's the Plug-in Model?
Where's the 4-wheel drive model?

SJC

Toyota declared years ago they would have a hybrid in every model line, I guess it will take them a bit longer than they thought.

Bobcom52

The Prius deserves credit for raising the awareness of electric power in a car with the public but Toyota should be selling a PHEV, something akin to the Volt, by now as its electric flagship.

Come the day a battery only model with(say)300+km range and rapid charge ability can be sold at (say) the price of the base Corolla the ICE part can be disposed of too.

GasperG

You are all missing the point here, Prius is meant to be big volume car TODAY. Toyota sells ~1.4 milijon hybrids per year. To humanity this means more saved fuel than with low volume plug-in cars.

But I agree tomorrow will be different and it does look as Toyota is lagging in this department, but until we see a meaningful selling numbers nothing is lost.

Bernard

SJC:

The 4wd model is Japan-only for now. That's supposedly because it is not quite as good as non-Japanese customers would expect.
The plug-in could be introduced later, if Toyota feels that there is a market. The current plug-in Prius hasn't been a success (commercially or technologically), so maybe they won't bother.

Overall, this is a small update of Prius technology. It looks like Toyota had already exploited almost all of the potential energy savings in the previous two generations. It may be a good car, but it's also the end of the road for hybrid tech. If the next Prius (in 5-6 years) gets another 2 MPG improvement, that's only 100 gallons (380 liters) over a lifetime, a savings of $1 or $2 per month.

SJC

Could be a self fulling prophecy. Toyota does not do much with the RAV4 EV nor the PHEV Prius, so they do not do well. Since they do not do well they do not continue with hybrid in all their models as announced.

SJC

The word is fulfilling.

TM

Bernard: The PiP demand is there, Toyota has just decided not to make many of the 1st gen PiP and recently stopped manufacturing them. If they made more, they would have had a lot of sales. So Toyota decided it wouldn't be a success, not the customers.

Gen IV PiP due out next year.

I've got a 2012 PiP and even with the small EV battery, I still have 1/3 of my total miles via EV.

Perhaps they stopped production because they felt that the car, in the wrong user's hands, would be a blemish on Toyota. In the right user's hands, it is fine and very nice.

So I'll agree that the PiP was not successful, but I'll argue that Toyota pulled the rug out from under it and it could have been successful had Toyota decided to put embrace it.

Roger Pham

I also would like to see a PHEV version of the new RAV4 hybrid. Since this SUV even in hybrid form consumes almost twice as fuel per mile as the Prius, the gasoline saving would be double that of the PiP for the same plugging-in effort daily.

HarveyD

What is keeping Toyota from mass producing high quality PHEVs with 60 to 80 Km e-range? Affordable batteries or internal reluctance to change?

HarveyD

According to a well know e-car review, the 2016 Chevy Volt and the Toyota 2016 Prius are the best all around buys for electrified hybrid vehicles.

The are both about equally frugal on gas (depending on specific uses) but the Prius cost about $10K less.

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