2016 Toyota Prius Four Touring

The original hybrid car – the Toyota Prius – is all-new and drives better than ever, but it’s a good thing you can’t see it from behind the wheel.

I guess Toyota spent so much of the budget on making the new Prius drive better it had to fire the styling department. Looks aside, it’s better in most every way than the car it replaces.

Our review Prius, the mid-equipped Four model, feels more like a normal car on the highway. Gone are the sloppy handling, excess road noise, and clunky drive train. A new rear suspension design helps a lot.

Things are better on the inside, but the Prius quirkiness remains. Gauges are clustered in the center and bright white trim reminds me of the original Chevy Volt hybrid. There’s the same old stubby gear selector with a separate button for park. Of course, the transmission is a CVT. It is fun to watch the energy monitor and see when the car is running on electric, gasoline, or both.

000002Back seat legroom has been reduced in the new car and the sloping roof line cuts into row two headroom. Under the rear hatch, though, it’s better with more cargo space than before. A 1.8 liter, four-cylinder gasoline engine paired with two electric motors give the Prius 121 horsepower with the power sources combined.

All of that adds up to some pretty fantastic mileage with this Prius; the EPA says 52 miles-per-gallon combined city and highway. We got about 48 miles to the gallon.

It is on the slow side. Of course, people buy a Prius for great gas mileage, not the way the way it performs or looks. So, for the 2016 Toyota Prius Four Touring, I say thumbs up to great gas mileage, improved handling, and more overall refinement; thumbs down to awful styling and a snug row 2.

The as-tested sticker price is $31,827.

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