All New 2017 Prius Four The Original Hybrid is Still The Best

 

In 2003, I was on the Motor Trend jury that selected the 2004 second generation Prius as the 2004 Motor Trend Car Of The Year.  I will always remember that it was a heated contest between the “rally twins” the Mitsubishi Evo and Subaru WRX STi and hybrid Toyota.  But in the end, it was a bold move to choose the hybrid game changer. Today, is not such a big deal but going back more than deacde it was a big deal.

Fast forward to 2017 recently I had the opportunity to sample the all new 4th generation Prius for the first time.  The’s 2017 Prius hybrid embodies the original car’s same basic concept, that being an internal-combustion engine coupled to an electric motor, the latest version is both stylistically and technologically leaps and bounds better. The latest Prius now has lots of competition, but it remains the segment’s fuel-economy leader and is bolstered by a new model, the Prius Prime plug-in hybrid. Able to travel up to 25 miles solely on electric power, the Prime offers one more Prius competitor to challenge Ford’s C-Max Energi and Chevy’s Volt. With its slick new styling, refined interior, improved chassis and new standard suite of driver-assist technologies, the 2017 Toyota Prius remains the gold standard in hybrid automobiles.

Despite its small size and lightweight frame, Toyota’s 2017 Prius hybrid is amazingly rigid. A rigid chassis allows for a better suspension, which endows the Prius with surprising agility. Body roll in the corners is kept to a minimum and the steering, although not on par with the Mazda3 or Honda Civic, is light and precise.  I found the overalll driving experience to best to date of any Prius model to date.  .  A couple of minor egonormic areas of improvement include giving some adjstablibilty to height of the heads up color sisplay, and changing the location of the frony heated seat switches which now are located  too far ahead in the center console for my liking/

The Prius’ brakes are strong and capable and despite the skinny fel economy friendly tires hauled the Pruis down from speeds much better than anticapated. .. On the highway, the 2017 Prius hybrid delivers a smooth ride and a quiet cabin with very little wind or road noise evident. One downside is the Prius’ front seats that sit low to the floor, making entry and exit somewhat of a challenge for some drivers..

Although the shape seems familiar, with the same wedgy design theme, there’s more drama in the 2017 Toyota Prius compared to previous generations, which looked a little boring by comparison. Longer, lower and wider than its predecessors, with more character creases in the bodyside panels, the 4th-generation Prius has a strong curbside presence, as well as a distinctive going-away view. The lower hoodline contributes to improved aerodynamics the coefficient of drag (Cd) goes from 0.25 to 0.24and also enhances the driver’s forward sight lines.  That is amazing exotic sports car like Cd number.  I not a huge fan of the face of the vehicle but all other styling angles are grearly improved.

Some folks don’t care for the rear tailight treatment I myself like it and thinks it works quite well with the theme of the overall car.

The feature list for the basic Prius Two makes it clear that “basic” does not mean “stripper” for this car. Dual 4.2-inch customizable color information displays, 6.2-inch color touch screen, 6-speaker AM/FM/CD Entune audio, 2.0 USB port, Bluetooth streaming, Siri eyes-free, hands-free phone link, voice recognition, 3-mode driver pre-sets (EV, ECO, Power), cruise control, tilt/telescope steering column, cargo area tonneau cover, rearview camera, stability control, traction control and eight airbags. Toyota’s Safety Sense P includes full-speed dynamic cruise control, capable of bringing the car to a complete stop.

The interior on Toyota’s Prius Hybrid for 2017 employs two 4.2-inch color info screens with primary instrumentation parked atop the dashboard. Higher trims also include a color head-up display, as well as pedestrian detection. The instrument screens ride the center of the dashboard, reducing eye redirection, according to Toyota, though some think otherwise. Interior materials including the new synthetic leather was extra comfortable looking and feels quite rich. A low center-console height gives the front compartment a more open feeling, and the rear compartment feels roomier despite a very small reduction in interior volume and lower roofline compared to the previous generation.  Yes as always it has that funky dash monted transmission selector I hold out hope that genaration five will change that feature

My Prius Four model had the Advanced Technology package adds a power tilt/slide moon roof with a sliding sunshade, and the color head-up display. The Premium Convenience Package includes a 7-inch touch screen, navigation, Entune 10-speaker JBL audio, advanced voice recognition, as well as the standard Prius Two and Three features, and a good many others. Premium Convenience is limited to Prius Four and Prius Four Touring trims.

Toyota’s Hybrid Synergy Drive has been adapted to a number of the company’s vehicles. It’s also been licensed to other carmakers. The latest electric motor is rated at 71 horsepower and 120 lb-ft of torque. Combined system output is down 13 horsepower at 121 horsepower compared to generation three, but efficiency is up. On all but the base trim, the electrical side of the powertrain is supported by a lithium-ion battery pack.

Fuel economy was fanatstic, rated at 54 city and 50 mpg highway with a 52 MPG combined number which is quite impressive. This is the best Prius to date hands down. My well euqipeed test vehicle was priced at 32,216.00 making for a great value as well.

The Long Drive Rankings

Front Engine-FWD Automatic

Highlights

Value

Fuel Economy

Comfortable Front seats

Lowlights

A  little slow 0-60 mph

The Long Drive Rankings 1 Low 10 High

Exterior Styling 7
Interior styling and quality 7

Handling 5

Braking 6

Fuel Economy 10
Performance 5
Trunk-Cargo Capacity 8

Audio System 6

Value 10

 

All New 2016 Toyota Tacoma Limited Double Cab makes a good truck better.

By Bob Long

Toyota has pretty much dominated  the midsize truck market in recent years. As a matter of fact half of the midsize trucks sold in the U.S. are Tacoma’s. It’s no wonder why. The Tacoma has a solid reputation based on excellent capability, reliability and an inherent tough demeanor. Yet new rivals have been introduced in this once-stagnant segment, and now the Tacoma faces tough competition from the refined Chevy Colorado and GMC Canyon, as well as the Nissan Frontier. For 2016, Toyota has built upon what Tacoma fans like about the truck, while improving key features like fuel efficiency, noise levels in the cab, and overall refinement. It all comes to market wrapped in bold, attractive new styling.

The Toyota Tacoma is highly versatile, with proven off-road capability and the best payload capacity in its class. Buyers can choose from two engines, two cabs, two bed lengths and 2- or 4-wheel drive, plus the new Tacoma is much easier to park in a garage than a full-size truck. For 2016 Toyota’s midsize truck is essentially all new, with new styling, a new V6 engine and transmission, a more refined and quieter interior, more capability, and new features.

I recently drove a 2016 Toyota Tacoma V6 Double Cab, backed by the all-new 6-speed automatic transmission. The new drivetrain offers more power while also improving fuel economy. Acceleration is strong and steady, although far from fast. Acceleration from 0-60 seconds will take you in the high 7 second range.   Overall it is a clear improvement in power over the 2015 model.

Changes to the suspension plus tweaks to the frame make the 2016 Tacoma feel more planted and more stable on-road. Handling feels better, and the ride is comfortable and compliant. The brakes, still discs in front and drums in the rear, feel confident and strong.. The cabin is much quieter, and has a fresh new look. However, whether you opt for the SR, SR5, TRD Sport, TRD Off-Road or Limited, you will not be getting power seats as they are unavailable. Off-road, the new Tacoma is tough and highly capable, and the optional Crawl Control and Multi-Terrain Select make trail adventures a breeze.

With optional Crawl Control, with the truck in low range, you set the system’s speed, and it manages acceleration and braking. All you need to focus on is steering. Multi-Terrain Select automatically matches the type of ground you want to cover (snow, ruts, etc.) to the proper transmission, throttle and brake settings.

There are hidden spots underneath the back seats that serve as good places to stow small items you’d rather keep out of view. If you want a flat cargo area in the cabin, fold down the rear seats. The seatbacks are flat and covered in plastic, creating a home for not so clean gear.

The Toyota Tacoma is highly versatile, with proven off-road capability and the best payload capacity in its class. Buyers can choose from two engines, two cabs, two bed lengths and 2- or 4-wheel drive, plus the new Tacoma is much easier to park in a garage than a full-size truck.  The Tacoma is not the most fuel-efficient truck in its class, nor does it offer the best towing capacity.

Recently I drove a 2016 Toyota Tacoma V6 Double Cab, backed by the all-new 6-speed automatic transmission for a whole week.. The new drivetrain offers more power while also improving fuel economy.

The Tacoma gets an all-new modern refined interior for 2016, with new, high-quality materials, new seats (and a new seating position) and a bevy of cool available features. Items like push-button start and a moonroof option are segment firsts. There’s also a handy multi-information display, where you can look at fuel economy, outside temperature, and even off-road info, such as the trail mode the Tacoma is in and the angle the Tacoma is at when on a steep hill. The new Tacoma also comes with a new version of Entune, the connectivity and entertainment control center, and Qi wireless charging.

Exterior styling wise you can tell this is still a Tacoma, new styling cues like LED daytime running lights and an exterior design inspired by Toyota’s off-road race history set it apart from past trucks. There are five trim levels – SR, SR5, TRD Sport, TRD Off-Road and Limited –each of which gets different front-end styling. The bed is still composite-lined and contains two useful storage bins, but is now deeper so it can carry more cargo. The tailgate is damped for easier opening and locks for added security. My test truck had the excellent  optional 3-piece hard tonneau cover..  This a first time offering straight rom the factory. My test truck also had the optional towing package.

Sticker price with options was $40,020.  Standard equipment includes a rearview camera, a basic version of Entune connectivity, an automatic limited-slip differential, eight airbags, a lockable tailgate, adjustable tie-down cleats in the bed, 16-inch wheels, and a tilt/telescoping steering wheel. One exclusive on all 2016 Tacoma trucks, however, is a mount for a GoPro camera and I though a journalist had left behind from another test drive..

My test truck ah such creature comforts including push-button start with Smart Key, leather seats, Entune with a full App suite, a JBL sound system, and heated seats.

Under the Hood was a 3.5 liter V 6 putting out 278 horsepower and 265 lb-ft of torque.It is not the smoothest V-6 in the marketplace but gets the job done.  EPA numbers for my test vehicle came in at 28 city a 23 Mpg highway.

Toyota has taken a good truck and made it better If like Tacoma’s you are going to love the all new 2016 model.

 

Front Engine-4 X 4

Highlights

JBL audio system

Factory Tonneau cover

New Creature comforts

Lowlights

No available power seats

Engine Refinement Could be Better

Fuel Economy also could be better

Scale 1 low-10 High

Exterior Styling 6

Interior styling and quality 6

Handling 5

Braking 5

Fuel Economy 6

Audio System 8

Navigation System 8

Performance 7