What It Is: An informed rendering of the fourth-generation Toyota Prius. The most notable feature, of course, is the radically low nose with no upper air intake, and a horizontal headlamp treatment that takes Toyota’s angry-goose face to a more sinister-looking place. The profile, tall rear end, and split rear-window treatment appear much like they do on the current Prius, dictated as they are by aerodynamics, but expect a similarly modernized taillamp and rear fascia treatment, as well as a shelf-like rear spoiler.
Why It Matters: The Prius is the world’s best selling hybrid, and is the best selling car period in California. It is the greenest feather in Toyota’s cap, being the first non-plug-in car sold in the U.S. to earn a 50-mpg combined fuel-economy rating from the EPA. The lineup will certainly include a plug-in and possibly other variants, and will likely establish a new bottom-breather design vernacular for Toyota’s ubiquitous hybrid line.
Platform: The Prius will be the first of the brand to be built on the Toyota New Global Architecture (TNGA), a modular platform that Toyota says will help the car shed hundreds of pounds. As class-leading fuel economy is reason number one that the Prius exists in the first place, expect Toyota to make extensive use of lightweight materials to reduce mass.
Powertrain: Earlier this year, we reported on some of the updates Toyota has planned for the Prius, such as batteries with greater energy density, introducing smaller, more-powerful electric motors, and moving to a gas engine with optimized combustion and reduced friction. Using these measures, Toyota hopes to increase fuel economy by about 8 percent. At some point, Toyota could also switch to more-energy-dense lithium-ion batteries to save space, although to keep prices competitive, expect the Prius to retain nickel-metal-hydride batteries in the short term.
Competition: Chevrolet Volt, Ford C-Max
Thanks to: Car and Driver