First Impression: 2016 Prius Three Touring

 

The Toyota Prius put hybrid vehicles on the map twenty years ago and are just now starting to get some of the positive design attention a trailblazer deserves.

Handling

It takes very little time behind the wheel of the Prius Three Touring to understand it’s not what we consider a driver’s car. The fuel economy numbers are far more impressive than the horsepower and torque totals; but, that’s to be expected of a Prius. The driving experience was a bit disconnected. Steering and acceleration felt like the steering wheel and pedal had to tell the wheels and engine/motor what to do. The wait for that message delivery was just long enough to make the driver feel the separation.

Interior and Infotainment

The Prius Three interior borders on the futuristic; not in a sci-fi kind of way, but more of a Toyota got there a little ahead of everyone else kind of way. A 4.2” driver information screen sits atop the center of the dash, as it does in all Prius models, and takes the place of an instrument cluster. The information provided includes pretty much everything a driver could need, from speed and fuel economy information to diagnostics. Below that in the stack is a reasonably sized 7” infotainment touchscreen.

As always, the Prius manages the illusion of dimensional transcendentalism by creating a much larger passenger and cargo volume than should be physically possible in such a compact vehicle. One niggling issue we had with the otherwise delightful interior was bits of white (think appliance white) trim on the steering wheel and center console. It looked out of place, and odd.

Exterior

It would seem Toyota has finally figured out a hybrid striving for every bit of aerodynamic advantage does not have to be wedge-shaped or unattractive. The Three is strikingly good looking. Angular LED light housings and body creases make the Prius look a tad more new Lexus than Toyota, which we think is a good thing.

Seating and Storage

The seats in the Prius Three are comfortable enough to make the ride part of your commute as pleasant as the refueling. There is plenty of room for four adults to make a run across town while the sloping back glass makes for an impressively large cargo space.

The center console features a couple of cupholders and a respectable amount of under-armrest console storage. At the front of the console is a charging pad for those whose phones are compatible. For those whose phones are not compatible, the pad is inset into the console deep enough to provide a secure resting place for your phone. This is a feature more designers should take note of.

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