2016 Toyota Prius Rumor Roundup: 60 MPG, AWD, Lithium-Ion Battery

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2012 Toyota Prius

2012 Toyota Prius

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Over the next 14 months, you can expect leaks, rumors, suppositions, spy shots, and outright guesses about the 2016 Toyota Prius to proliferate.

The fourth generation of Toyota's quintessential hybrid car is a crucial model for the company.

If Toyota sticks to its model cadence, we expect that all-new Prius liftback to be shown at either the 2014 or the 2015 Detroit Auto Show--and go on sale within a few months as a 2015 or 2016 model.

The next Toyota Prius, incidentally, will likely be assembled in the U.S. for the first time.

While the Toyota Prius is now a family of four vehicles, and remains the world's best-selling hybrid, it faces new and fierce competition on a variety of fronts.

Virtually every global carmaker now offers at least one or two hybrid models, not even to mention plug-in electric cars.

Hybrid volume will soar as car companies boost fuel efficiency throughout their ranges to meet new gas-mileage and carbon emissions standards across the globe.

So the next Prius has to be good enough to stay the hybrid standard, keep its highest-EPA-rating crown in the U.S.--and improve on the current car.

Here's our roundup of rumors, speculation, and likely directions for the new Prius:

Battery pack: One of the biggest questions is whether Toyota will stick with its known, proven nickel-metal hydride battery or switch over to lithium-ion. This may vary by region.

Koie Saga, a senior managing director for Toyota drivetrain research, told trade journal Automotive News (subscription required) in May that fourth-generation Priuses built in the U.S. would likely switch to a lithium-ion battery.

Today's Prius, launched as a 2010 model, was originally meant to have a lithium-ion pack. But in January, 2010, Saga told journalists the company had bet on the wrong lithium chemistry--so Toyota fell back to the tried-and-true nickel-metal hydride cells.

Lighter weight: Although Toyota has reportedly scrapped the idea of an all-aluminum body for cost reasons, it's likely to make heroic efforts to reduce the weight of the new Prius. A Toyota engineer is said to have specified a 155-pound (70-kg) reduction in weight.

Better aerodynamics: This is potentially where the new Prius will be the most radical. The startling FT-Bh concept shown at this year's Geneva Motor Show had a drag coefficient of just 0.235, which is very low for a five-door compact hatchback.

2010 Toyota Prius with 2009 model--can you spot the differences?

2010 Toyota Prius with 2009 model--can you spot the differences?

Enlarge Photo

New shape: The shape of the next Prius will clearly follow the form that produces least aerodynamic drag. Frontal area, cross-section, and length are the most influential factors.

Now the British outlet AutoExpress has shown a sketch of a radically lower Prius with very tall but narrow tires.

We're not convinced that's the way the designers will go; instead, we'd look for inspiration toward not only the FT-Bh concept but also another high-efficiency Toyota concept, the NS4 Plug-In Hybrid concept shown at Detroit in January.

Either way, you can expect the new shape of the Prius to be more radical than the 2010 redesign, which was very similar to the groundbreaking 2004 generation.

Low-rolling-resistance tires: This is entirely predictable, but Toyota may push beyond the current state of the art. Earlier this year, Inside Line said sources at Toyota revealed the company was talking to tire manufacturers about working on a new, groundbreaking, ultra-low rolling resistance tire.

All-wheel drive: We're skeptical about the AutoExpress claim that the new Prius liftback will offer all-wheel drive. We might believe it for the Prius V wagon, but there's never been an AWD Prius and we wouldn't expect one unless or until Toyota decides to build a Prius-branded crossover utility vehicle.

SO ... what kind of gas mileage might the new Prius return? AutoExpress claims 90 mpg, using Imperial gallons on the European test cycle.

That translates to 75 mpg in U.S. gallons, so cutting another 20 percent for the tougher U.S. test cycle would bring that down to 60 mpg--which sounds about right to us.

What would you like to see in a new generation of the Toyota Prius hybrid? And what do you think it will have--and won't have?

Leave us your thoughts in the Comments below.


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Comments (48)
  1. Personally, I hope the styling will look better. The 2006 style was not great, but the 2010 was much worse IMHO.

    Dump the silly shifter, and reduce road noise in the cabin. Add 1" more head room in the back seats.

    Other than that, don't mess to much with it. The load bay is great.

  2. How about a "performance" version that more mainstream buyers can accept?

  3. That's the Camry Hybrid IMO. 200 hp and 200 lb-ft in a more traditional body style. Not fast, but sufficiently quick.

  4. Well, improve its handling and braking then...

    Offer a Prius SE edition so it can lose few MPG but has better tires, better performance and braking.

    If by making it "capable" equals dropping its MPG from 50 to 40 (camry hybrid), then the 50 MPG is really "pointless" in my opinion.

  5. The Prius is already "capable" enough for the vast majority of motorists. Most people don't care about "performance" the way boy-racers/typical auto journalists do. The company understands the market, as demonstrated by their sales success.

  6. Apparently, you and I disgree on what is the definition of "capable". If double digit accerlation and poor handling is "acceptable" to you. Then fine, buy your Prius.

    I believe MOST Prius buyers believe that "poor" performance of the Prius is "acceptable" in exchange for its fuel efficiency. If the fuel efficiency is NOT there, then very few people will buy Prius.

    In reality, you can make Prius even WORSE in performance and keep the MPG and people will still buy it. But to some drivers, they will be okay driving a "short bus" if it gives them > 50mpg...

    I don't call them "drivers". I call them "commuter" who are forced to "operate" a moving object. They are more than willing to take a bus...

  7. The 0-60 obsession is getting old.

    The Prius has 0-60 at 9.7 seconds which is well within the main-stream market, and only a second slower than your beloved Volt.

    Let it go, it is a small difference.

  8. @John Briggs,

    Let me settle this once for all.

    Your quote of 9.7 seconds is FASTEST one ever out there. Most of reviews peg the Prius at around 10 secs. Sure, small difference.

    Now, let us talk about handling and braking. How come you NEVER mentioned those two factors? They are TERRIBLE on the Prius.

    All Toyota needed was better tires (which reduce MPG) and better suspension (added cost).

  9. Toyota has already done what you are asking for, a sporty Prius, tryout the Lexus CT 200.
    For 0-60, I have another vehicle == Honda CBR929 which will do that in about 2.7 seconds with 1 gear shift, and I still get 35-40 mpg and that was just $5000 12 years ago and still going strong. Its a little slower with a passenger hanging on but thats OK.

    How much milage does your car get? I really like the Prius for the range and the hatchback for cargo. I can take a group of friends out to Tahoe and back on one tank. The Prius is a really well engineered car which I think strikes the right balance in all of its components and upgrades coming.
    I can't wait for electric motors in all the wheels with differential steering and bigger batteries.

  10. Most people just don't know how to drive fast, and rely on brute force. On my daily commute with my 2007 Prius (with the touring suspension), I'm generally the fastest guy around. I really don't need any more power. I was fun back when I had sporty cars, but in practice, it's more about your ability than any raw performance, when it comes to making "good time".

  11. Add more EV range to the Plug-in please. Then our 15 mile commute could be covered on electricity!

  12. Taking your foot off the gas/electron pedal would extend your range tremendously.

  13. Next Prius comes out the same time as the Gen 2 Volt...I'd like to see a real plug-in from them to compete with Volt. Minimum 30 miles pure electric range at any speed....


  14. i would love to see a 15 amp inverter producing 110 AC that allows
    the prius to serve as a field generator

  15. I would be a nice option, but it's got no other purpose, so probably left to the aftermarket. I have a 600W sinewave inverted in my 2007 Prius... handy for long trips and longer car camping/festival events.

  16. I am so so on the design of the prius and prefer the last model over the current ones. I have a 2007 and love it, but it could be better:
    - stereo... bought the premium option and it is just above, "Sucks". lots of opportunity there.
    - seats... they are not very confortable to say the least-especially on longer drives. Heated seats are needed too but think that is an option now.
    - heating... sometimes, less is more. Let me control the dang thing. It is a pain.
    - gas fill... maybe this is fixed but the thing is so tight (believe due to an intenal bladder) that sometimes it is very painfull to get the pump to stop clicking off.

    I also love the idea of a plug-in version!

  17. @Scott: You know there is already a plug-in version of the existing 2012 Prius, right?

  18. Have a Plug in 2012....great savings in weight but could use a bit more PUNCH in the power...not too much though....have to keep the MPGe up....my averages are much more than Toyota has stated EPA wise..weight and drag should be improved upon....if it is possible keep the same wheelsize and maybe add a heated steering wheel as well as a HEATER that allows the vehicle to warm up as it does already with the A/C when its charging it shall ALSO heat the cabin and or pre heat the coolant/engine block..also seats are heated but NOT cooled as other Toyota models...overall the PHEV beats the Ford models so need not worry there...the Fords will NEVER hold up to the real world figures the boast...47 is more like 39 on the Cmax...Energi will be less..

  19. I, for one, have been waiting a long time for an eAWD Prius. There are not any high MPG AWD cars on the market today and living in the snowbelt, one of our vehicles needs to be reliable transportation in bad weather.


  20. I think there are very few places that trully require AWD. I'm from Canada, we get a lot of snow and yet I see people driving smart cars without any problems. I find that the best market for AWD vehicles are people who are insecure or newly arrived immigrants who are convinced by their dealership salesman that they really need the AWD, otherwise they'll be stuck under 10 ft of snow...and that's how we get cities full of useless polluting SUVs.

  21. Come to Sierra Nevada during the winter and they won't even let you drive on some of the snowy road without 4WD or chains...

    Some of the resort driveways are so steep and windy, you won't make it up even at super slow speed with 2WD...

  22. I live in Oregon and have a full set of Bridgestone Blizzaks on a pair of cheap steel rims. I put them on around the first of December and take them off around the end of March. They make a huge difference when traveling in snow for a 2 wheel drive vehicle.

  23. Sorry but our Volt looks better, accelerates better, and after 30k miles we're at 100 MPG lifetime avg.
    I know there are some pluses and minuses between the two, and all Prius don't look so bad on the road, but the picture at the top of this article is one homely vehicle IMO.

  24. Your Volt is also smaller, much more cramped load bay and dramatically more expensive.

    But other than that, it is probably OK.

  25. Majority of people drive by themselves daily. 98% of my miles are single occupancy. So, those load bays aren't really problem. You sound like those Texas SUV/Pickup drivers who drive those F-350 just in case they need to haul something when they actually never do...

    Your Prius dash board is also cheap and low tech. Volt can be operated without any gas for months... I haven't used a single drop of gas during my work commute in the last 6 months...

  26. Very true! And you only had to pay almost twice the price of a Prius! Hey why not just get a tesla?

  27. I would really like to see some "real, hardcore" improvements in aerodynamics. How about mirror delete (use small cameras instead w/ blind spot warning), front air dams, flat wheel covers, rear wheel skirts, small boattail and an aerodynamically slick underbody? I really wish a car company would deliver better aerodynamics. It is taking a chance but, I would buy it. The HSD system is nearly maxed out on efficiency the only area left to improve is aerodynamics.

  28. I rarely ever see Priuses in the right hand lane. They are pretty much buzzing along with the traffic, i.e. exceeding the posted speed limit. The easiest fix would be to slow down. The drag coefficient is a constant when calculating the force of drag. The velocity of the automobile increases the drag force exerted on the car by a square. Gas mileage is affected far more by speed than the drag coefficient. Personal responsibility folks!!

  29. I would like the new Prius to have:
    1. More leg room for tall people, I'm 6 foot.
    2. Longer Telescopic with Tilt Steering.
    3. Better Arm rest positioning.
    4. Lower Road Noise.
    5. Easier to see out when backing up. (I don't have the rear camera)
    6. I don't care for real low profile tires (

  30. I would like the new Prius to have: Cont.
    6. I don't care for real low profile tires (

  31. 6. I don't care for real low profile tires not

  32. Had a 2004 Prius and put 98000 miles on it. Newer models have had a very odd, oversized center control panel. Takes up way too much room for driver and passenger. Need to improve dampening of road noise and visibility of surrounding traffic. Sit up higher. I now have a 2008 Ford Escape Hybrid and like the backup beeper better than the backup camera that was in the Prius. Will eventually go back to Prius for better mileage.

  33. Passenger DVD. Make the Black cherry paint available on a model with the sunroof/solar panel. Better distance in EV. Like say 50 miles plus. Allow Nav input from the passenger side of car while driving as inputting at a stand still or a stop lights is a pain.front camera for parking as you can't see the front of the car or how close the car or curb in front when parking. USB Power port that works when the car is shut off. Add free life time services.

  34. I have a 2010 Prius and the gripes are as thus:

    a) no feel to the steering
    b) terrible rear vision ... wish it had the V's rear hatch!
    c) terrible sense of where the front bumper ends
    d) awful road noise
    e) under powered ... could use another 5 to 10 horses

    Otherwise the great gas mileage is absolutely wonderful! Getting an avg of 41-43 around hilly area I live in but can get 50 to 60 mpg driving on a flat road going 45mph.

  35. The Lithium ion will make a big difference and the life of the battery is increased. Expect a solar roof charger and plug in charging for all models from a 110 volt outlet.
    A deflated spare tire which you will have to inflate to install.
    The tail end will be lower to reduce drag.
    Expect a cover over the rear wheels.
    I am waiting at cidpusa

  36. I'd like to see a lower, better looking Prius and one that tracks a bit better in a straight line instead of feeling so wishy washy on the road. Agree with other comments that road noise a big deal. Lose the split windows and lower the bubble in the wagon. Wagon styling actually better than the hatchback.

  37. 2015 Prius: keep the hatch with at least 20CuFt of trunk space. A little more headroom in the rear seat. I think the performance and handling are good enough for normal driving. 60mpg. Keep the price under $25K. Put in a 3rd row option in the Prius V. Keep the small shifter on the dash and eliminate flying butress style.

    PS for those bragging about their plug-in MPG, let us know the real MPG after you figure in the electricity cost to charge the battery at home.

  38. I would like to see better mileage and the option of getting all the drive assist technology ,lane keper and intelligent cruise control that is presently available on the Lincoln MKZ and the Ford Fusion. I presently have a 2007 Prius and a Prius C , but unless I can get the drive assist technology on the 5th generation Prius I might get a Ford

  39. When I found they had discarded the backup camera on the 2010, I bought a used 2009 instead. I live in the city and parallel park all the time, so if they don't reintroduce the backup camera, I won't buy another Prius. I know it's part of a $2,000 nav option, but screw that, it should be standard.

  40. I have a 2011 Prius Hatchback and I consistently get 54 mpg. It is great but I would also like to have an ER EV.

    It would be a pure EV when the weather is warm and the trip is short. But when I need heat or when I want to increase range I would like to be able to flip a switch and start a single cylinder engine (see the recent German design in the news) that would generate electricity to increase the range of the battery. The trade off? Well, you can't use it for really long trips (I use my current Prius for those) but you would be able to get longer range than most current electric cars and with a smaller (less expensive) battery.

  41. I will consider seriously purchasing my first Toyota Prius Hybrid if it is a Plugin Hybrid Electric Vehicle with an electric range of 50 miles.

  42. Have a 2010 series 5 but have trouble with viewing the insturments when in sun light>> Have display on high but can't read >> Is t a better way to color the display as you may get a ticket when you can't read the speed o meterehere

  43. give consumers the option for multiple additional battery packs for increased mileage and performance, like Tesla does.

  44. cause if toyota doesn't give options in the battery size , American enterprise will.

  45. Waiting for more all wheel drive hybrid crossovers. One reason why I did not buy the Prius V. If I am going to drive a "slug" I want it to at least have AWD!!!

  46. For the price of a used Volt I have 2 vehicle that do the same thing, and better. I have a gently used Nissan Leaf which I bought with 6,200 miles for $13,500. My other vehicle is a Toyota Prius which I bought with 73,000 mils for $12,500. Leaf for in town and Prius for out of town trips. Two vehicle for the price of one!!!!

  47. I would buy a new Prius tomorrow if it had AWD or 4WD.

  48. Yes, a 60-mpg AWD Prius ... I'm there!

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