2016 Toyota Prius Hybrid: Clearer Spy Shot Of High-Tailed Rear

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2016 Toyota Prius camouflaged test car, Southern California, Jun 2015  [photo by CarsDirect]

2016 Toyota Prius camouflaged test car, Southern California, Jun 2015 [photo by CarsDirect]

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Detroit-area residents occasionally see camouflaged development prototypes from GM, Ford, and Chrysler testing on public roads.

Similarly, Southern California residents often see Toyota, Honda, and Hyundai prototypes pass them clad in disguise.

And so it was for a Cars Direct employee driving to work yesterday.

DON'T MISS: 2016 Toyota Prius 'Coming Soon': 55-MPG Hybrid To Be Sportier

He snapped a photo of what is pretty clearly the upcoming 2016 Toyota Prius hybrid on the road near the company's headquarters in Torrance.

That car will likely be unveiled to the world at either the Tokyo Motor Show this September or the Los Angeles Auto Show in November.

Fourth-generation Toyota Prius hybrid prototype testing in Thailand [from Headlight Magazine forum]

Fourth-generation Toyota Prius hybrid prototype testing in Thailand [from Headlight Magazine forum]

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It's the fourth generation of the world's highest-volume hybrid-electric vehicle, with more than 5 million sold since its Japan-only launch in 1997.

The new Prius has appeared in numerous spy shots and cellphone videos all over the world, and it's clear that the general shape hews to the Prius convention established in 2004.

ALSO SEE: Is This The Next Toyota Prius Hybrid Captured On Video?

That is, a rounded nose, a very high tail with a sharply vertical Kamm back for good aerodynamic characteristics, and relatively small wheels and tires.

The new Prius is expected to be sportier than the current model, both in its design and its handling and roadholding.

Fourth-generation Toyota Prius hybrid prototype testing in Thailand [from Headlight Magazine forum]

Fourth-generation Toyota Prius hybrid prototype testing in Thailand [from Headlight Magazine forum]

Enlarge Photo

We don't yet know much about the specifics of the powertrain, but Toyota announced at a technical conference earlier this year that it had achieved a peak thermal efficiency of 40 38 percent from a new gasoline engine under certain running conditions.

The two-motor hybrid system will almost surely be the next generation of the longstanding Toyota Hybrid Synergy Drive.

Rumors suggest that all-wheel drive will be an option for the first time.

MORE: Toyota Prius Plug-In Production To End This Month (June); New One Coming Next Year

Back in the summer of 2013, a Toyota technical presentation suggested that the new model would be at least 10 percent more efficient than the current Prius.

That means an EPA combined fuel-efficiency rating of 55 miles per gallon.

There will also be a plug-in hybrid version, though it won't appear until next year.

2012 Toyota Prius Plug-In Hybrid, Catskill Mountains, NY, Oct 2012

2012 Toyota Prius Plug-In Hybrid, Catskill Mountains, NY, Oct 2012

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The spy shot shows a square panel in the camouflage on the right-rear fender--just about where the current Prius Plug-In Hybrid has its charge-port door.

That leads us to wonder if Toyota is testing not only conventional Priuses but also the plug-in variant, which has seen its highest sales in California.

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