2016 Toyota Prius: What We Want To Know About All-New Hybrid

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2016 Toyota Prius teaser shot

2016 Toyota Prius teaser shot

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Next Tuesday evening, the 2016 Toyota Prius hybrid will make its world debut in Las Vegas, kicking off what its maker calls "the next era of an icon."

"We’re pulling out all of the stops for this exclusive event to celebrate the future of Prius in a truly spectacular way that will be anything but expected," Toyota has promised attendees.

We'll be there.

DON'T MISS: 2016 Toyota Prius: Full View Photos Finally Leaked

Yesterday, the company released a single teaser photo for the car: a black background with a bright-red squiggle that is likely the car's taillight profile.

In a way, you might feel sorry for the months of work that went into Toyota's carefully planned PR blitz.

That's because photos of two 2016 Priuses--one silver, one dark grey--were leaked last week on a Malaysian Prius owner's Facebook group; They quickly ricocheted around the world at Internet speed.

2016 Toyota Prius leaked - Image via Prius Club Malaysia

2016 Toyota Prius leaked - Image via Prius Club Malaysia

Enlarge Photo

They were shot in the hold of a cargo plane, leading us to wonder whether they are the cars for Las Vegas next week.

With the exterior design public, we'll be interested to see just how much information Toyota releases about the car--since there's no driving opportunity at the event..

Will the interior be as Space Age-y as the current one? Will there be more integrated, less scattershot graphic displays?

ALSO SEE: Ford, Hyundai Dedicated Hybrids To Target 2016 Toyota Prius? (Aug 2014)

And will they match up to the graphic quality of those in the latest Chevrolet Volt and Ford's hybrids and plug-in hybrids?

The interior of the third-generation Prius is now outdated; it's also full of hard plastics, a smart weight-saving technique but one that's been bypassed by most modern small cars.

Will the 2016 Prius interior have more soft-touch surfaces?

2015 Toyota Prius 5dr HB Three (Natl) Dashboard

2015 Toyota Prius 5dr HB Three (Natl) Dashboard

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Will it drop the high "flying buttress" console that offered awkward-to-reach storage underneath, but formed a barrier between front-seat occupants?

We note the 2012 Prius V wagon had a more conventional console design.

Will the new Prius continue with its 1.8-liter engine?

MORE: Hyundai To Launch All-Electric 'Prius Fighter' Model In 2016: Tip

Will that engine be capable of the 38-percent thermal efficiency level Toyota touted in a technical paper earlier this year?

2010 Toyota Prius 1.8-liter gasoline engine, with no accessory drive belts

2010 Toyota Prius 1.8-liter gasoline engine, with no accessory drive belts

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It's the powertrain, and its efficiency, that really forms the heart of why most people buy Priuses.

That's what keeps it the most energy-efficient car sold in North America without a plug.

Will the electric motor offer more power, giving the 2016 Prius more ability to operate in all-electric mode for longer distances and under higher loads?

Will all-wheel drive be an option at any point, as has been rumored?

RELATED: 2016 Toyota Prius: Next Hybrid Aims For 55 MPG, More Room, Better Handling (Aug 2013)

The Toyota New Generation Architecture (TNGA) that underlies the Prius has clearly been designed for AWD models of some sort, but will that energy-sucking option be offered in a car with the Prius label?

What will the battery pack be?

Rumors have suggested that there will be two pack choices, with the base car retaining the current model's well-known but heavier nickel-metal-hydride battery, and a pricier model--perhaps with even better efficiency--that uses a lithium-ion pack.

Will Toyota release any details at all on the Prius Plug-In Hybrid, which will lag the conventional hybrid in reaching the market by roughly a year?

Recent sources have suggested the new plug-in Prius could offer an electric range of 30 miles or more.

Lithium-ion battery from the 2012 Toyota Prius Plug-In Hybrid

Lithium-ion battery from the 2012 Toyota Prius Plug-In Hybrid

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But we'll wait to see if Toyota even discusses the plug-in version. (We're betting the company says little or nothing about it.)

And, finally, what will the actual ratings be?

We're betting the new Prius will be EPA-rated at 55 miles per gallon, given suggestions by engineering executives more than two years ago.

2016 Toyota Prius leaked - Image via Prius Club Malaysia

2016 Toyota Prius leaked - Image via Prius Club Malaysia

Enlarge Photo

But will there be a more efficient model, perhaps at 60 mpg? Or will that be the rating for the plug-in model?

Green Car Reports will have all the details on the new 2016 Toyota Prius as they're released next week.

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