Earlier this year it was rumored that the next-gen Toyota Prius had been delayed over MPG concerns, but a new report now suggests otherwise. According to Automotive News, the design of the 2016 Toyota Prius was changed at the last second, as the automaker seeks younger buyers. But could a more aggressive look backfire?
That doesn’t mean fuel economy will go down; quite the contrary, the 2016 Prius could get as much as 60 MPG, along with all-wheel drive and different battery options. But a new look described as a “fresh breeze” but Toyota executives will try to bring more emotion and strength to a car not known for either. The Toyota C-HR Concept is said to be a primary influence for the new Prius, which…isn’t exactly reassuring, to be honest.
Keep in mind, this is the same company that brought you the hydrogen-powered Mirai, which is not a pretty car in any sense of the word. A Prius is still a Prius at the end of the day, and a new look isn’t likely to change that when there are already so many other good-looking options. Toyota is going to try and make the Prius Plug-In more distinct looking, which I do think is a good idea…but I’m not sure a new look can change the image of a car that has come to define what a hybrid is.
You know what’s worse than a slow car? A slow car that pretends to be fast, which is the path I’m afraid the next Prius might take. The Toyota Prius didn’t become the best-selling green car in the world by looking pretty or going fast. It got there by offering the best fuel economy by a wide margin.
…then again, the most popular trade-in among Tesla buyers was the Toyota Prius. Is that because the Tesla is “greener” by being all-electric, or is it because it’s also a lot better looking? That’s up for somebody else to decide. There might not be a ton of overlap between Tesla and Prius drivers, but everybody can appreciate a sexy car like the Model S.
If the next Prius looks anything like the Mirai though, it could send buyers fleeing into the waiting arms of other automakers.