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2016 Toyota Prius Performance Review

Note: This performance review was created when the 2016 Toyota Prius was new.


Performance: 7.4

Though it still isn't sporty or especially powerful, reviewers agree that the redesigned 2016 Toyota Prius is much better to drive than the old model. They appreciate the 2016 Prius' composed handling, smooth ride and extraordinary fuel economy.

  • "At any rate, the new car is worlds more enjoyable to drive, both around town and pushing on canyon roads, than the old one. There's a pulse here in this new Prius, a sense of life. The new Prius still may not be an outright performance car in a dynamic sense, but it's no longer the one-dimensional econobox that enthusiasts love to hate." -- Motor Trend
  • "The new Prius responds quicker, feels more composed and had less lean. The improvement is definite." -- Cars.com
  • "Make no mistake, the 2016 Prius is not a performance car. It could not even reasonably be considered a 'fun' car in the strictest sense. Rather, it's a Prius that the average enthusiast won't hate driving. That's a huge victory for Toyota, and a refreshing progression for a model that was once anathema to anyone with any affection for the driving experience." -- Left Lane News
  • "Over a gentle drive of 22.5 mostly highway miles, we got a dashboard display of 67.3 mpg. But when you add in a similar stretch of more stop and go driving and some winding roads, our total for 48.8 miles was 57.3 mpg. That's a great number, even if the overall average amount of fuel you'll save over the course of a year with the fourth-gen Prius instead of a third-gen model is negligible." -- Autoblog

Acceleration and Power

The 2016 Toyota Prius is powered by a 1.8-liter four-cylinder engine and an electric motor that produce a combined 121 horsepower. A continuously variable transmission, which is a type of automatic, is standard.

Official EPA fuel economy estimates aren't available yet, but Toyota expects the Prius to get 54/50 mpg city/highway, which is better than the fuel economy of most hybrids. Prius Two Eco models are expected to get 58/53 because of various tweaks to their design, including reduced weight and aerodynamic adjustments.

Reviewers agree that the 2016 Prius isn't particularly powerful, but most say it can keep up in city traffic and has adequate passing power. Test drivers also note that the Prius changes smoothly between gas and electric power.

  • "Driven back-to-back with the outgoing 2015 Prius, there's a noticeable improvement in acceleration in the new vehicle. It still won't wow enthusiasts, but it's better than before." -- AutoTrader
  • "When I drove like a normal human being - without hypermiling or constantly flooring it - the Prius picked up speed with the pace of traffic easily and remained quiet while going down the road. At city speeds, the Prius seamlessly switched between its internal combustion engine and electric motor, even keeping pace for long stretches of 45 mph or so driving under nothing but electrons. The new Prius is also pretty good on the freeway. The ride is buttoned-down and quiet, and power remains good, without the Prius being left breathless during simple passing maneuvers." -- Motor Trend
  • "When it comes to power, though, the results aren't as impressive. … It's not obnoxiously slow, but once the initial grunt wears off, the Prius' gas engine makes a steady drone but doesn't rocket forward." -- Cars.com

Handling and Braking

Test drivers agree that the redesigned 2016 Toyota Prius has much better handling and sharper steering than the outgoing model. Though they say it's still not sporty, they commend its composure around turns. They also note that the 2016 Prius has smooth regenerative brakes and a soft, comfortable ride.

  • "Cornering and tight, quick transitions are now possible without big body roll, and fun-to-drive becomes part of the equation." -- AutoTrader
  • "The new Prius has a stiffer chassis, lower center of gravity and new suspension tuning that results in the Prius being the best-handling version of the car to date. The Prius is not a car aimed at driving enthusiasts or those looking to go racing, but the car responded quickly and predictably in the track test." -- Cars.com
  • "Overall, the new car's dynamics are fully predictable, devoid of unpleasant quirks, with the bonus of supple ride quality." -- Kelley Blue Book
  • "Even the feel of the electric power steering has been improved with stronger self-centering and more pronounced force buildup, particularly in harder corners, although there's still a dead zone on-center." -- Car and Driver
  • "Moreover, when you do the stopping thing instead of the going thing, the transition between regenerative braking to mechanical braking is now equally refined." -- Automobile Magazine

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