TOYOTA’S 2016 PRIUS TWO ECO HITS SWEET SPOTS
By Tom Crosby
Americans have an obsession with the seesaw price of gasoline, fearing high prices that can force them to worry about the economic impact when they have needed miles to drive. Consequently, auto manufacturers strategize on how to provide power, comfort and additional miles per gallon.
Today, electric vehicles, as an alternative to fossil fuel, still struggle with driving range and too few charging locations. However, the 2016 Prius Two Eco hybrid, combining gas and battery, comes at an affordable price, averages more than 50 miles per gallon, has plenty of occupant roominess and can hold its own on the highway when passing punch is required. Throw in a top overall government crash safety rating score and Prius owners can smugly smile when gas prices inch upward.
This is the fourth generation Prius, with 3.5 million cars sold worldwide since it went worldwide in 2000. It remains the undisputed mid-size hybrid leader and the Prius Two Eco liftback, with the best mileage among six trims, will keep it on top.
Emphasis on gas mileage dominates a newly designed dashboard, which is shifted to the right in a sweep to avoid behind the steering wheel gauges. Every trip shows data above the center spine. There are mpg calculations along with moving dashboard screen images showing energy shifts between the gas engine, the battery, electric motor/generator and brakes for battery regenerative charging.
A suite of ECO functions rate driver efficiency, show gas costs and price savings and there are even instructions on how to drive more fuel-efficiently.
This year’s Prius is sleeker with a wedge look, longer (2.4 inches), wider (.6 inches) and lower (.8 inches). Sculpted character lines add to the four door sedan’s edgier look. A double-wishbone rear suspension cushions the ride and helps handling.
Steering is responsive with a decent straight-ahead bias. Numerous tweaks have muted road and wind noise. Prius is first to use Toyota’s new Global Architecture to create a lighter, more rigid body vehicle with improved aerodynamics and better gas mileage gallon.
Cargo space was increased (a tire repair kit instead of a spare tire) nibbling away at rear seat legroom but still comfortable for most adults. Visibility has been improved although it is severely hampered with rear seat head restraints raised. A low warning sound beeps below 15 mph to alert cyclers and walkers. Toyota’s highly touted Entune audio is standard.
LIKES: Mileage, handling, space, ride, quiet
DISLIKES: Rear visibility with head restraints, need for safety options
BOTTOM LINE: Comfortable, fuel-sipping, still an industry leader
- Base price w/destination fee $25,535
- Curb weight 3,010 lbs.
- Wheelbase 106.3 inches
- Length 178.7 inches
- Width 69.3 inches
- Engine specs 1.8-liter hybrid, 4-cylinder, DOHC (gas)
Permanent magnet (electric)
- Horsepower 93 hp at 5,200 rpm (gas) 71 hp (electric), 121 hp (combined)
- Torque 105 lb.-ft. at 3,600 rpm
- Transmission Continuously variable transaxle
- EPA Rating 58 mpg city; 53 mpg highway
- Range 11.3 gallons, regular fuel
- Performance 0-60 in 9.6 seconds