2016 Toyota Prius

2016 Toyota Prius

Episode 3515
Auto Value and Bumper to BumperTire Rack "The Way Tire Buying Should Be"

While almost every major car brand offers some form of hybrid vehicle, it’s Toyota that is truly the hybrid champ, with over 8 million hybrids on the road worldwide. And the vast majority of them are the hybrid that started it all, the Prius. Well, believe it or not, now it’s time for a 4th generation of the popular gas-electric. Let’s see if it’s still a green-machine benchmark.   

Not only is this 2016 Toyota Prius all-new, but it’s built on Toyota’s New Global Architecture that will carry a wide variety of new models in years to come; not just hybrids. 

And while that might be mostly about cutting costs and simplifying production, it’s a much stiffer platform that is supposed to deliver a more rewarding driving experience; not a past Prius strong suit. Is this the fun to drive Prius we’ve been waiting for?

Well, a first-time double wishbone independent rear suspension is certainly an upgrade over the former torsion beam. It provides both a smoother reaction to bumps, and better grip in corners. 

Now, we’re not saying it can now moonlight as a track day ride, but there is clearly a better, more in control feel behind the wheel. Furthermore things have gotten quieter and visibility has improved all around. 

Prius is longer than before, by over 2-inches; and appears less bulbous, if also less familiar. In fact, a taller front grille area, most probably for pedestrian crash protection, and a flatter, more defined hood, alters the traditional Prius triangular profile significantly. The stance is wider, lower, and with lots of front fascia character lines, far more aggressive. 

Lighting is a big contributor to that theme too, from the standard, menacing slim LED headlights, to the form following signature tails.

New looks and improved driving capabilities are great, but Government Fuel Economy Ratings are far more important to the Prius buyer. While not yet finalized, Toyota estimates 54-City, 50-Highway, and 52-Combined. Or overall, 2 more than last year. 

There will also be an Eco model with lighter weight and enhanced aerodynamics that will push the numbers even higher, to 58-City, 53-Highway, and 56-Combined. 

As for the hybrid gasoline-electric powertrain behind those gains, it has gotten lighter and more compact. 

The gas-fed internal combustion part remains a 1.8-liter I4; but it’s been redesigned top to bottom. And while fuel efficiency is up, power is down. Total output now comes at 121-horsepower. 

Transmission remains a CVT, with a combined transaxle/electric motor that is also smaller and more efficient. If only we could figure that trick out for ourselves. 

The powertrain space saving translates to more space inside. It was already a pleasant, if not super comfortable environment, but now it’s been upgraded to be a bit more mainstream and perhaps more inviting, but there is still plenty of that “Prius feel” remaining to keep it unique. 

The instrument panel now has a hint of a wraparound theme to it, and controls are more in-line with the rest of the Toyota car family. Yet, the wide, and very comprehensive full-color TFT gauge cluster remains in a centrally located dash top bubble.  

Steering wheel controls are even more comprehensive, and of course there’s a big center touchscreen for navigation and the like. 

Front seat comfort and support have never been Prius strong points. 20-16 makes another stab at correcting that. The cockpit feels wide and airy, and there is excellent small item storage. The rear seat is also more comfy even as the space retains its coziness.

Cargo space is up slightly as well, to 24.6 cubic-ft. with a spare tire, 27.4 without; thanks to the smaller battery pack which is now Lithium-ion in most models, and now located completely under the rear seat. 

It seems like everything you buy these days, whether it’s a toaster or toilet boast increased safety, and for ’16 the Prius gets Toyota’s Safety Sense, with Lane Departure Alert, Radar Cruise, Pedestrian Detection, and other active features to keep you from hitting anything or anyone; making the new Prius a borderline autonomous machine. 

Pricing starts off at exactly the same place as the outgoing model at $25,035. A top end Four Touring starts just over 30 Gs. 

We’ve been down this road three times before with Toyota. As like many of their recent products, their hope is that the 2016 Prius will transition from being a rational purchase to an emotional one. We’re not sure it’s quite there, yet.  But bottom line, the Prius will continue to do what it has done for years, expand the hybrid profile to more and more households, and be the gasoline/electric benchmark for others to follow.

Specifications

  • Engine: 1.8 liter I4
  • Horsepower: 121
  • Torque: 105 lb-ft.
  • EPA: 54-City /50-Highway
2024 Mazda MX-5 Miata 1

2024 Mazda MX-5 Miata

Still A Miata, And That’s A Great Thing

Episode 4340
Auto Value and Bumper to BumperTire Rack "The Way Tire Buying Should Be"

When the cool little Mazda MX-5 Miata arrived for 1990, it immediately triggered a host of imitators and sparked a genuine global roadster revival. While that fad has faded, America’s love affair with the MX-5 has stayed strong. And, we’re pretty sure we know why!

The 2024 Mazda MX-5 Miata is probably one of the most recognizable cars on the road, and it has a way of putting a smile on our face every time we see one, not to mention any time we get a chance to hop behind the wheel. The Miata concept really hasn’t changed drastically over the last three decades, proof that Mazda got the formula right from the beginning.

Rear-wheel drive, minimal weight, tight suspension, willing engine, superb manual shifter, simple folding top, and just enough creature comforts to make long drives as pleasant as carving up backroad twisties.
An overload of power has never been part of that equation, and many may still decry the lack of horsepower, but just a reminder, this car was meant to rekindle the spirit of British roadsters from the 1960s that were a pure joy to drive, and had engines half as powerful as what the Miata works with today, which is a naturally aspirated 2.0-liter I4 with 181 horsepower and 151 lb-ft of torque.

2024 Mazda MX-5 Miata 3/4 Front
2024 Mazda MX-5 Miata Profile
2024 Mazda MX-5 Miata 3/4 Rear
2024 Mazda MX-5 Miata Front Detail
2024 Mazda MX-5 Miata Rear Detail
2024 Mazda MX-5 Miata 3/4 Front2024 Mazda MX-5 Miata Profile2024 Mazda MX-5 Miata 3/4 Rear2024 Mazda MX-5 Miata Front Detail2024 Mazda MX-5 Miata Rear Detail

A six-speed manual transmission remains the standard; you must upgrade to top Grand Touring trim to even get the available six-speed automatic. And it all works together to deliver a joyful driving experience that few other vehicles can match.

The exterior design has gotten more purposeful and less cartoonish over the years; new for this year is updated lighting which now incorporates the LED DRLs into the headlight assembly, as well as a more cohesive design for the full LED taillights, plus some fresh wheel choices.

Continual upgrades under the skin too, with a new asymmetric limited-slip differential for all manual-equipped Miatas. Its purpose is to minimize oversteer, and if you think that means it’s less fun, you’d be wrong.

The perfect feel and action of the shifter keeps you looking for reasons to shift gears.

It was still a blast to dart through the handling course at our Mason Dixon test track and on the autocross circuit at Summit Point Motorsports Park. Minimal body roll and perfectly neutral handling had us scooting through the turns with ease. Kinematic Posture Control was added back in ’22, using selective braking to tighten up cornering. Adding to it for ’24 is a new steering rack and updated software for the Electric Power Assisted Steering that provides better on-center feel and more precise control.

7.0 seconds to 60 mph won’t exactly get your blood pumping, but it’s plenty adequate for the Miata’s mission and the engine sounds great for a four-cylinder. The perfect feel and action of the shifter keeps you looking for reasons to shift gears. But keep those engine revs above 6,000 for the most power. We did and our best quarter-mile was 15.4 at 92 mph.

Our average braking distance of 118 feet from 60 mph may have been a little longer than we’re accustomed to from a performance car these days, but their predictable and fade-free nature will give you plenty of confidence at your next track day.

2024 Mazda MX-5 Miata Dashboard
2024 Mazda MX-5 Miata Seats
2024 Mazda MX-5 Miata Instrument Cluster
2024 Mazda MX-5 Miata Central Display
2024 Mazda MX-5 Miata Shifter
2024 Mazda MX-5 Miata Trunk
2024 Mazda MX-5 Miata Engine
2024 Mazda MX-5 Miata Dashboard2024 Mazda MX-5 Miata Seats2024 Mazda MX-5 Miata Instrument Cluster2024 Mazda MX-5 Miata Central Display2024 Mazda MX-5 Miata Shifter2024 Mazda MX-5 Miata Trunk2024 Mazda MX-5 Miata Engine

Things remain all business in the cockpit, with everything falling readily to hand, and comfortable seats locking you in place. The most notable change in here for ’24 is a bigger infotainment screen, growing from 7.0 to 8.8 inches.

Government Fuel Economy Ratings with the manual are 26 City, 34 Highway, and 29 Combined. That’s a slightly better than average Energy Impact Score of 10.3 barrels of annual oil use, with 5.0 tons of CO2 emissions.
Starting price is only $30,170; top Grand Touring goes for $35,470.

It’s true that the Mazda MX-5 Miata has barely evolved over the years; but fortunately for all of us, virtually all of the ways that it has changed have been for the better, yet even in 2024, it remains incredibly affordable. It has been such a constant presence and passion for so many of our MotorWeek staffers over the years it seems like it has been around for a lot longer than just three decades, and thankfully, it looks like there’s no slowing the Miata down.

Specifications

As Tested

  • Engine: 2.0-liter I4
  • Transmission: 6-speed manual
  • Horsepower: 181
  • Torque: 151 lb-ft
  • 0-60 mph: 7.0 seconds
  • 1/4 Mile: 15.4 seconds at 92 mph
  • 60-0 Braking: 118 feet (avg)
  • EPA: 26 City | 34 Highway | 29 Combined