We got a warm, cozy feeling after learning more about the 2016 Toyota Prius—warm like the car’s improved exhaust-heat-recirculation system and steering wheel with a heat-absorbing synthetic fabric. Or was it the cup of coffee we just drank?
Either way, Toyota has detailed the fourth-generation Prius’s powertrain and chassis—although not on every point—ahead of our drive of the car next month. Here’s what we now know:
The electric drive motor is smaller to save weight and to fit within a smaller transmission case, but it also loses a few ponies and pound-feet. It’s now rated at 71 horsepower and 120 lb-ft, compared to the current model’s 80 horsepower and 153 lb-ft.
As we heard last year, this motor will be supplemented by one of two battery packs: a nickel-metal-hydride unit in entry-level models and a more-powerful, more-energy-dense lithium-ion pack for top trims. Toyota shifted the battery from the cargo floor to beneath the rear seats, opening up two additional cubic feet of storage in the hatch.
Moving the battery also allowed Toyota to offer the Prius with optional all-wheel drive, called E-Four, that uses a second electric drive motor to spin the rear axle. With only 71 hp and 41 lb-ft to offer, E-Four’s second motor is more of the “bad weather peace of mind” type than, say, something Ludicrous.