Built on a new platform called Toyota New Global Architecture (TNGA), the 2016 Prius is powered by a gasoline-electric hybrid drivetrain that’s made up of a 1.8-liter VVT-i gasoline-burning four-cylinder engine, a compact electric motor, and a high-density battery pack. The four-cylinder gas engine makes 97 horsepower at 5,200 rpm and 104 pound-feet of torque at 3,600 rpm, and the electric motor is rated at 71 hp.
The four-banger is carried over from the last-gen Prius but it has been thoroughly re-engineered. It is fitted with a dual cooling system that reduces the flow of coolant when the engine is cold in order to enable faster warm-up, and it boasts a remarkable thermal efficiency of 40 percent. In other words, it uses the energy made from burning fuel much more efficiently than other gas engines.
While the base Prius will continue to use a nickel-metal hybride battery pack, the more efficient Prius Eco is expected to boast a lithium-ion battery pack, a first in the nameplate’s nearly 20-year history. The pack is located under the rear seats in both models, a packaging solution that gives the new Prius a much more spacious trunk than the model it is replacing.
As a result of the modifications, Toyota boldly promises the new Prius will return 10-percent better gas mileage than the outgoing car. Official figures won’t be published until the EPA tests the hybrid, but we estimate the Prius will return approximately 55 miles per gallon in a mixed cycle, and the aforementioned Eco model will be capable of hitting about 60 mpg.
The 2016 Toyota Prius will arrive in dealerships nationwide early next year. Pricing information will be published in the weeks leading up to its on-sale date.