The 2016 Toyota Prius is the first all-new one in several years, with a host of new technicals under its hood. While its engine designation is still 2ZR-FXE, the engine is heavily revised for this year and hybrid drive unit is all new.
Starting with the engine, it remains a 1.8 liter port fuel-injected Atkinson Cycle four-cylinder with variable valve timing. New is a cooled exhaust gas recirculation system for better thermal efficiency, revised inake tract for better efficiency.
Air comes in now through an all-new ducting system mounted down low ahead of the engine. It’s more compact and includes a built-in water separator. The design Toyota says lowers the center of gravity and allows for its lower hood rake.
A composite valve cover and that revised intake system makes the new engine significanly quieter and more refined as does the increased use of sound deadening under the hood and the firewall. This is the quietest Prius I have ever driven.
Horsepower is down slightly though for 2016, now at 95 instead of 98 ponies. Torque remains the same at 105 pound-feet. Combined system horsepower however took the largest hit, now down some 13 horsepower to 121 total instead of 134.
The power reduction is due in part to a smaller and less powerful drive motor in its all new continuously variable transmission drive unit. The new design has a smaller and lighter motor and a more compact package.
A more compact Hybrid Power Control Unit (PCU) is now mounted directly to the top of the engine with main electrical contacts connecting directly to the motor unit. This reduces parasitic power loss Toyota says by as much as 20%.
Powering the 2016 Toyota Prius electric drive unit are now two battery choices. Remaining is the old Nickel-metal hydride battery pack, but now available on higher trim grades is a more efficient Lithium-ion battery. Both are now mounted under the rear seat cushion inside the passenger compartment.
All of these changes and improvements Toyota tells us bring increased fuel economy to the new Prius. The base mpg for Prius models is 54 mpg city and 50 mpg highway. If you get the Prius Two ECO like we have here, it’s rated at 58 mpg city and 52 mpg highway.
As you look around the engine compartment, there are some similarities to the previous generation Prius, but this one is largely different. Up front on the driver side is the coolant tank for the Hybrid PCU, the 12-volt battery and the main fuse panel. Behind them is the brake fluid reservoir.
The air filter is down low up front and center which is good for finding it, but opening it up for filter replacement will take some effort. On the passenger side you will find the windshield washer fluid and main engine coolant reservoirs. Checking oil and filling it continues to be top and center on the engine.