2016 Toyota Prius

Overall Score: 8.4 / 10
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$24,200 - $30,000

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2016 Toyota Prius Overview

To get some of the best fuel economy from a compact car, turn to the 2016 Toyota Prius. Its full redesign includes many improvements, such as a better-quality interior with impressive materials and delightfully smooth surfaces. Its updated dashboard has a simple layout, making it easy to adjust settings. The 2016 Prius has roomy seats and a ton of cargo space – more than nearly every compact car or hatchback. The Toyota Prius also earns good safety and reliability scores.











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Pros & Cons

  • Superb fuel economy
  • Outstanding cargo space
  • Composed ride and handling
  • Hushed cabin
  • Unattractive white plastic in upper-trim cabins

Notable for 2016

  • Fully redesigned

Toyota Prius Research and Awards

The 2016 Toyota Prius has a score of 8.4 out of 10 which is based on our evaluation of 20 pieces of research and data elements using various sources.


Overall: 8.4
Critics' Rating: 8.7
Performance: 8.0
Interior: 8.2
Safety: 9.3
Reliability: 3_5

2016 Toyota Prius Pictures

2016 Toyota Prius Review

By Courtney Jones May 15, 2017

To get some of the best fuel economy from a compact car, turn to the 2016 Toyota Prius. Its full redesign includes many improvements, such as a better-quality interior with impressive materials and delightfully smooth surfaces. Its updated dashboard has a simple layout, making it easy to adjust settings. The 2016 Prius has roomy seats and a ton of cargo space – more than nearly every compact car or hatchback. The Toyota Prius also earns good safety and reliability scores.

When it comes to performance, the Prius offers a good balance of fairly sporty handling and ride comfort. Its engine delivers enough power for day-to-day driving, but it won't get you moving in a hurry. If you're considering nonhybrid compacts, you'll find plenty competitors that offer a more engaging drive and have stronger engine options, though none will match the Prius' fuel economy. The Prius is one of the most affordable hybrid vehicles available across all classes, but when compared with gas-only compacts, it's on the expensive side, so consider long-term fuel savings versus up-front costs before you buy.

Prius Performance

Outstanding Fuel Economy

Two electric motors and a four-cylinder engine produce 121 horsepower in the 2016 Prius. The acceleration of the Prius will satisfy drivers day to day on the highway and in the city, and it feels faster than the previous model. An automatic transmission (CVT) is standard. 

Most compact cars don’t come equipped with a powerful engine. That's especially true for compacts with a hybrid powertrain, which typically perform better on slower city streets than bustling highways. While many compact cars, including the Honda Civic and Mazda3, can be equipped with a more powerful engine than the base, the Prius, like most hybrids, has only one powertrain.

According to the EPA, the 2016 Toyota Prius gets up to 54 mpg in the city and 50 on the highway. The Prius Two Eco earns better estimates of 58 mpg in the city and 53 on the highway. The Prius is one of only a few compact car hybrids, and its fuel estimates far surpass those of nearly all of its rivals. Still, the all-electric Nissan Leaf is an option if you're serious about breaking your fossil-fuel addiction. It can get you up to 107 miles on a full charge. The Chevrolet Volt is a plug-in hybrid that gets up to 43 mpg in the city and 42 on the highway, and it has an all-electric range of 53 miles.

Improved Handling

While the Toyota Prius isn't quite as sporty as compact car rivals like the Mazda3, its handling is notably improved over that of previous models, and it feels poised with little body roll around turns. Its steering is fairly responsive, but it does lack feedback during straight-line highway driving so you might find yourself adjusting the wheel often. The Prius' regenerative brakes are smooth, which is not always the case with hybrids.

Read more about performance »

Prius Interior

Simple, Modern Styling

Upscale materials fill the interior of the 2016 Prius, a big upgrade from the materials in the previous model. The interior surfaces are smooth to the touch, and fit and finish is excellent. The Prius' cabin is attractively styled, however, some of its available color combinations clash, particularly the shiny, white plastic trim on the cup holders.

The Prius' climate control buttons are a standout feature because they are large and incredibly easy to use. In fact, the entire Prius dashboard earns praise for its ease of use and lack of clutter.

Some compact cars, like the Volkswagen Golf and Chevrolet Cruze, are available with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, which allow you to connect your iPhone or Android phone to the car’s touch screen to access features like maps, music, and contacts. The 2016 Prius is not available with Apple CarPlay or Android Auto, but connecting your smartphone to the Prius’ infotainment system is so simple that you probably won't miss them.

The display screen has rich, bright graphics and colors that together provide a modern look. In higher trims, there is an available head-up display, which displays the car's speed and fuel levels on the windshield in front of the driver.

Quiet Cabin

The 2016 Prius has seats for five on standard fabric upholstery. The Prius' seats are relatively comfortable. The cabin is fairly roomy for a compact car, with a good amount of space in the front and rear for average-size adults. With ample noise-isolation features like insulated front windows, the Prius is incredibly quiet inside.

Available seating options include synthetic leather upholstery, heated front seats, and a power-adjustable driver's seat.

Competitive Cargo

The Prius has 24.6 cubic feet of cargo space behind its back seats. When you fold the 60/40 split rear seats, there are 65.5 cubic feet of space. That's an excellent amount of room for a compact car and a considerably higher capacity than most compact hatchbacks have. The Kia Soul cargo capacities come close, with 61.3 cubic feet maximum. The Nissan Leaf has a maximum of 30 cubic feet – less than half of the Prius' cargo capacity. With the Prius' battery pack mounted under the back seat instead of behind it, as it was in earlier models, the 2016 has more cargo space than previous generations of the Prius.

At 27.4 cubic feet, Prius Two Eco, Four, and Four Touring models have a bit more cargo space because they have a tire repair kit instead of a spare tire.

Read more about interior »

Prius Pricing, Options, and Trims

The base model, the Prius Two, starts at $24,200, and comes with a rearview camera, Smart Key with proximity sensors for the driver's door, push-button start, a USB port, voice command recognition, Bluetooth, Siri Eyes Free voice-controlled iPhone integration, and a six-speaker sound system. That's a good amount of standard features for the class. The Prius Two also comes with three dashboard display screens: a 6.1-inch touch screen that controls the Entune infotainment system, and above it are two side-by-side 4.2-inch screens that display fuel economy, speed, and some infotainment content.

The Prius Two Eco costs about $500 more and weighs less than the base model, boosting fuel economy to 54 mpg in the city and 50 on the highway. This trim also has a few extra features like a tire repair kit, two-tone wheel covers, and a Smart Key that works on three doors as opposed to the base model's one-door Smart Key.

You can buy the Prius Three for around $26,250. This is the lowest trim available with Toyota's Safety Sense package ($2,000) that includes pre-collision braking with pedestrian detection, lane departure alert, automatic high beams, and adaptive cruise control. Additional standard features include Entune Premium with navigation and an app suite that allows you to access internet-connected radio, check local weather, and more. The Prius Three is available with a power-tilting and sliding moonroof, a color head-up display, and leatherette seating.

For $28,000, you can get the Prius Three Touring, which adds unique styling elements that set it apart from other trims. It has 17-inch alloy wheels, a grille shutter, integrated fog lights, and leatherette seating with contrast stitching. It also comes standard with Toyota's Safety Sense suite of driver-assist feature.

The Prius Four has a starting price of $28,650. It adds standard blind spot monitoring and heated front seats, and it’s available with a premium JBL stereo and intelligent parking assist, which helps you avoid collisions when exiting or entering a parking space, whether you’re reversing or driving forward.

The top trim is the Prius Four Touring, which costs $30,000. This trim combines all the standard appearance and safety features of the Prius Three Touring with the available safety and convenience features of the Prius Four.

See 2016 Toyota Prius specs and trims »

Prius Safety and Reliability Summary

The Toyota Prius’ safety scores are average for the class, which is commendable considering most compact cars earn good safety scores. The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety named the Prius a Top Safety Pick+ and conducted five crash tests (moderate overlap front, small overlap front, side impact, rear crash protection, and roof strength) in which the Prius earned the top score of Good in each. In the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration's four crash tests, the Prius earned five out of five stars in the overall and side crash categories, and four stars in the front and rollover crash tests. While these scores are typical for a compact car, the Honda Civic performs the best in crash tests, earning perfect scores from both the IIHS and NHTSA.

The Prius is predicted to be more reliable than most cars, according to a J.D. Power and Associates dependability study, so you can likely count on it lasting you many years. The Toyota Corolla beats the Prius with a better predicted reliability rating.

The Prius comes standard with a rearview camera and can be equipped with driver assistance features to help prevent crashes or lessen their severity. Available features include automatic pre-collision braking, which applies the brakes when you are at risk of hitting a car in front of you. Optional lane keep assist helps prevent you from running off the road or into another car by alerting you when it detects you deviating from your lane, and blind spot monitoring will give you a visual and audio warning when a car approaches your blind spot. Parallel park assist takes the pain out of street parking by helping you steer into a spot, an especially handy feature if you spend a lot of time in the city.

Toyota covers the 2016 Prius with a three-year/36,000-mile warranty and a five-year/60,000-mile powertrain warranty. The Prius’ hybrid-related components are covered for eight years or 100,000 miles.

Read more about safety »

Other Cars to Consider

Among hybrids, the Ford C-Max Hybrid delivers some of the best driving dynamics. Its sharp steering handles winding roads easily, and its brakes are strong and smooth. Along with a sporty ride, the C-Max feels comfortable and is quiet on the highway. The C-Max's interior is good looking and well-built with high-quality materials, and its high driver's seat position offers an expansive road view. Both the front and back seats have good head- and legroom for tall adults, and its seats have plenty of space. The C-Max comes with a unique MyKey feature that allows you to set speed and audio volume limits, and it can be equipped with a parallel park assist system that is one of the easiest to use on the market. Fuel estimates for the C-Max are great for a wagon or compact car, though they're lower than the Prius'.

While it's not a hybrid car, the Mazda3 has some of the best nonhybrid fuel estimates in the compact car class. It earns 29 mpg in the city and 41 on the highway. Starting at less than $18,000, the Mazda3 also has a significantly lower starting price than the Prius. The Mazda3's incredibly zippy handling makes it one of the most fun-to-drive compact cars, and its soft suspension keeps its ride smooth over rough pavement. The Mazda3's interior is also one of the most upscale in the class with its top-notch materials and a slick dashboard design. Its infotainment system is also easy to use. The 2016 Mazda3 performed slightly better than the Prius in a frontal crash test by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. Like the Prius, it also earned a Top Safety Pick+ award from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety.

Compare the Prius, C-Max Hybrid, and Mazda3 in more detail »

Details: 2016 Toyota Prius

The 2016 Toyota Prius is a hybrid compact hatchback that is powered by a four-cylinder engine and two electric motors. A continuously variable automatic transmission and front-wheel drive are standard. Six trims are available: Two (base), Two Eco, Three, Three Touring, Four, and Four Touring. The Eco model gets higher fuel economy than the others, and the Touring models have sport-oriented styling. The Prius is fully redesigned for 2016. All other Prius models, including the subcompact Prius c, Prius v wagon, and Prius Plug-in, are reviewed separately.

Standard features in the 2016 Toyota Prius include automatic climate control, a rearview camera, proximity key, push-button start, a USB port, voice command recognition, Bluetooth, Siri Eyes Free voice-controlled iPhone integration, three display screens, and a six-speaker sound system. The Prius also comes standard with three display screens in the dashboard.

Available features in the 2016 Prius include automatic pre-collision braking, pedestrian detection, lane keep assist, adaptive cruise control, blind spot monitoring, rear cross traffic alert, parallel park assist, a head-up display, a moonroof, rain-sensing windshield wipers, wireless smartphone charging, HD Radio, satellite radio, a 10-speaker JBL sound system, a 7-inch touch screen with navigation and smartphone app integration, and Toyota's Safety Connect emergency assistance system.

See 2016 Toyota Prius specs and trims »

  • "Fans of the Prius, rejoice. The 2016 Toyota Prius is more fun to drive, more fuel efficient, better looking and roomier than before. Prius haters, it may be time to take another look at the world's best-selling hybrid car." -- AutoTrader
  • "Toyota has redesigned its flagship hybrid, the Prius, for 2016, and the result is an improved car, particularly in the areas of interior looks and driving performance. It's still a Prius, not an enthusiast's car, but it's the first Prius that's aimed at - and could actually attract - people who care about more than just getting the highest mileage." -- Cars.com
  • "When fuel economy tops your priority list, the Prius has been a traditional go-to choice, and the new car only reinforces its dominance in this regard. There's a host of new equipment available in the comprehensively upgraded cabin, yet the ride and handling improvements alone make it easily the most agreeable-driving Prius yet." -- Edmunds