prius2Susan Frissell

Others have said it before this writer: This is the best Prius ever. Coming from someone who had little use for hybrid vehicles (give me a good V-8 any day), my week in the beautiful Hypersonic Red 2016 Prius made me a believer. So much so, in fact, I’ve seriously considered replacing my 13 year-old Infiniti with this little do-it-all hybrid.

It’s fair to say that two years ago when driving a 2014 Prius back and forth from Chicago to Vermont, I was pretty impressed with all this car can do. We packed it full of ‘stuff’ to bring back/forth and it never missed a beat; averaging somewhere around 58 mpg. Who could argue with those numbers?

I appreciated all that the 2016 improved Prius offers; I enjoyed driving it, riding in it, maneuvering it, on and on. The new restyled look is up-to-date, edgy and less like a boring hybrid shape. The color added to first impressions, and the ride is practically flawless. The driver’s seat is one of the most comfortable this writer has ever encountered. Soft, yet supportive, and the 8-way power-adjusted driver seat with lumbar made it possible to get just the right angle/fit.

2016 Prius Interior

2016 Prius Interior

Am I gushing? I guess so. But I was surprised at how much I resonated with the Prius. For the first time in my life, I have no idea which car I would buy at this time. Many choices, of course. In the past, I always knew exactly what vehicle I was going to purchase next.

Our 2016 Prius Four Touring press car came equipped with a few options, including the Special Hypersonic Red color ($395), Cargo net ($49), Door Edge Guards ($125), Wheel locks ($65), Rear Bumper Applique ($69), and Body Side Molding ($289). All these options brought the car‘s total price close to $32,000, but consumers can buy the Prius for quite a bit less.

As one would assume, much is standard on the Prius, including rain-sensitive/intermittent wipers, Auto on/off Bi-LED headlights, Heated power outside mirrors, 7-inch high-res display premium audio with navigation, Entune, App Suite, backup camera, AM/FM/CD, SXM, Bluetooth, fold-down rear seating, Ql-compatible Wireless Smartphone Chrg, Tilt/Telescoping steering wheel with controls, 3-Door Smart Key, cargo area tonneau cover, tire repair kit, and power doors/locks/mirrors.

Of course, the latest in safety which earns the Prius a 4-5 star rating from the NHTS including vehicle stability control, traction control, ABS, Electric Brake-Force Distribution, Brake Assist and Smart-Stop Technology. While driving, apparently we came a little too close to the car in front of us and up popped a warning: BRAKES!. A little alarming at first, but I suppose a good idea, especially for texters!

Several airbags are standard fair, including knee bags, active headrests and side curtain airbags.

When first introduced, the Prius was a hybrid. Period. The second generation offered much more, with higher technology, as-promised miles-per-gallon that couldn’t be beat. Now, 12 years later, hybrids aren’t as sought after. With cheaper gasoline prices, and many other types of vehicles offered, the standard hybrid had to keep up and offer more.

The redesigned Prius has a combination of both space and efficiency, and no one can dismiss its achievable fuel economy of 50 mpg, at high and low speeds. Some have said it lacks ‘fun,’ but I think this 2016 Prius has much more to it than previous models. I so enjoyed driving it that I had to pinch myself.

Braking seemed somewhat vague; hence, the reason for the “BRAKES” on the windshield. Improved road manners can be attributed to Toyota’s TNGA (Toyota New Global Architecture). Enabling a lower center of gravity and sophisticated suspension, both improving ride and handling, the Prius feels more like a ‘sedan.’ One you’d want to get into each morning.

The ride is noticeably better. The rear suspension gets an independent trailing-arm arrangement, replacing the previous torsion-beam axle. The ride is better controlled, and impacts are soaked up more soundly. The steering isn’t terribly communicative, but then it’s a hybrid, not a performance vehicle. Turns are easily executed, and the Prius is just easy to drive.

Commuters will benefit from the Prius’s superb interior space and upgrades. As mentioned earlier, when driving the Prius from Chicago to Vermont and back, the Prius excelled in availability of room for all matter of objects. Beyond the liftgate is a low, flat cargo floor; the 60/40-split rear seats fold easily the expand the available space to 66 cubic feet; much like a crossover. Cyclists can easily fit their bike in the rear space.

Competition is considerable, compared to the Prius’ first few years on the market, and includes the Ford C-Max ($25,045-$32,645), Prius V ($27,510-$31,770), Lexus CT ($32,000), Chevy Volt (33,995-$38,445), Prius C ($29,394-$25,330). As you can see from the pricing, they all fall into the same price range.

MSRP: $30,000; total vehicle price $31, 827; destination $835
Engine: Hybrid Synergy Drive System, AT-PZEV, 1.8-liter DOHC, 16v, VVT, 1-4 cylinder, EV/ECO/POWER modes, 121 hp., torque, 105; FWD. Gas/Electric
Class: Hatchback, 5-passenger
Transmission: CVA
Wheelbase: 106.3 in.
Width: 69.3 in.
Height: 58.1 in.
Length: 178.7 in.
Weight: 3,075 lbs.
Tires: P215/45R17 all-season
Wheels: 17-inch alloy
Warranty: Roadside: unlimited; Full: 36 mths/36,000-miles; maintenance: 25,000 miles; Corrosion; unlimited miles/24 months; Powertrain, 60 mths/60,000-miles
EPA fuel economy: 54/50 mpg.