Toyota improves Prius Hybrid outside and in with technology features
The Toyota Prius Hybrid has been a favorite since its introduction to the market. Many years ago, we actually drove the prototype Prius prior to its debut in the U.S. marketplace and wondered how it would perform. That wonderment turned into a love affair with this vehicle.
Our 2016 Prius Three (third of six models) had a new sleek exterior design that truly enhances the appearance from previous editions. Front and rear LED lighting provides excellent projection and improves the stylish look, plus 15-inch alloy wheels add to the new aura (17-inch on some models), as does the rear spoiler.
The Prius has also been improved on the inside with what Toyota refers to as a “futuristic interior.” It definitively has a feel of technology at work with a seven-inch high-resolution touch screen display with an Entune Premium Audio system with integrated navigation and App Suite, rear-view camera, Siri Eyes Free, plus complete connectivity features and a 4.2-inch color dual Multi-Information Display (MID) with customizable screens.
On the Three model and above, there is digital instrumentation with speedometer, current and average fuel economy, EV/ECO/Power modes, plus a variety of other indicators. With an Advance Technology Package we also had a heads-up display, power/tilt moonroof, full-speed Dynamic Radar Cruise Control, automatic high beams, sunshade, plus safety systems that included a Pre-Collision System (PCS) with pedestrian detection, Lane Departure Alert with Steering assist (LDA-SA), and more. We very much liked the PCS and LDA-SA systems and found them quite useful in an extensive weeklong test in day- and night-time driving conditions.
Seats are comfortable (heated seats on some models) and have a six-way driver’s adjustment and four-way passenger adjustable seats. There is quite spacious 60/40 split rear seating, plus a generous 24.6 cubic feet of cargo space.
Safety elements abound in the Prius, which has a 5-Star overall government safety rating. There are advanced airbags throughout the cabin, Toyota’s Star Safety System with stability control, traction control, advanced braking systems, and more.
What makes the Prius a delightful car to drive is its overall performance as a hybrid and its fuel economy. The Hybrid Synergy Drive System and 1.8-L four cylinder engine with Variable Valve Timing with intelligence (VVT-i) provide excellent power and it has EPA/DOT fuel ratings of 52 MPG overall (54/city and 50 highway). We averaged 52.9 MPG
overall during several hundred miles of weeklong city and highway driving. Fuel costs for us were minimal.
Our FWD Prius Three had a base price of $26,250 and with several optional equipment packages had a final price of $29,232.
Lexus NX 200t F Sport has abundance of features
There are several SUVs in the Lexus lineup, including hybrids, but we enjoyed our test of the 2016 NX 200t F Sport for several reasons. The small SUV has a classy exterior design, a 5-Star safety rating, and handled magnificently on- and off-road with its Dynamic Torque Control AWD system.
Powered by a very quiet 2.0-L DOHC turbo engine, mated to a genuinely smooth six-speed automatic transmission, the NX has an overall fuel economy rating of 24 MPG (22/city and 27/highway). The turbo provides plentiful power and acceleration and 235 HP at 5,600 RPM; 258 lb.-ft. of torque at 4,000 RPM.
The F Sport features on the NX include a sport-tuned suspension, F Sport NuLuxe leather-trimmed seats, metallic sport trim, Sport steering wheel with paddle shifters, cornering front fog and driving lamps, active sound control, and 18-inch all-season tires mounted on special Sport wheels.
There are eight airbags in the NX cabin; exceptional ABS braking systems; backup camera; plus the Lexus Enform Safety Connect system that includes automatic collision notification, stolen vehicle location system, emergency assist button, and enhanced roadside assistance, among other features.
While there is an abundance of standard equipment on the NX, our tester had nine options. Our favorites were the F Sport Comfort Package and Navigation Package. The first included a memory power tilt/telescope steering column, power 10-way driver seat with lumbar controls, and folding/heated outside mirrors.
The Navigation Package included a remote touch interface, Lexus Enform remote, App Suite, and a superb 10-speaker Lexus Premium audio system (8-speaker standard). Other options included heated front seats, power back door, power tilt and slide moonroof, Intuitive Parking Assist (very helpful in tight parking spaces), leather-trimmed steering wheel, and a Qi wireless charger.
We found this Lexus to offer incredible technology (including expanded smartphone connectivity), spacious and comfortable seating front and rear, and very sporty handling characteristics. The interior is nicely crafted, but there is smaller than desired cargo space (17.7 cubic feet). The NX has a maximum towing capacity of 2,000 pounds.
Our tester had a MSRP of $38,365 and with add-ons the final price was $43,665.