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Toyota’s hideous new Prius

I’ve always found it difficult to feel any emotions at all about the Toyota Prius. From the moment Toyota Japan unleashed the XW20 Prius upon millions of hapless individuals around the world back in 2003, it has always been a car that prioritised aerodynamics over decent styling, lower rolling resistance over ride comfort and MPG statistics over pretty much everything else. The Prius has never quite looked like a “normal” car, and in this particular regard Toyota has really stepped things up a notch with their new 2016 model.


Presumably, what Toyota decided to do this time around was to beat the Prius unconscious with an ugly stick, before signing off on how it looked and sent it off to the production line. It really is as ugly as a hatful of arseholes. The bodywork shows telltale signs of the beating it endured – with an extremely busy arrangement of bumps, bruises and slashes evident all across the car. The front features two deep gouges on the outside edges of the headlights, which run all the way down to the bottom of the fog lights. The headlights themselves follow the gouge lines and spill downwards into the bumper, adding unnecessary and complicated details to the front of an already busy looking design. The blue glow Toyota badge sits above an almost useless looking  slender upper grille, which makes the Prius look like it has a nose and pencil moustache. I’m going to go out on a limb here and suggest that none of the frontal design features gel together at all – but if you thought the front end looks bad, the rear might just be bad enough to bring the great taste of sick to your mouth.


Starting on the leading edge of the rear door is a rather sizeable swage line, which then turns super-sized as it smashes into the rear tail light, which itself looks like it is leaking down the back of the car. The rear hatch continues with the ‘busy’ theme, by featuring a glass insert (so you can see who you’re holding up) with a body coloured panel running across the top of it, almost giving the illusion of a rear spoiler. The c-pillars are blacked out to help give the illusion that the glass house continues all the way through, but even this detail is a failure when you consider how badly it meets up with the rear window on the hatch. Toyota call the design of their 2016 Prius “athletic”, but I think they might want to pull out their dictionaries and check up on the definition of the word, because what they have here is the complete opposite. For a while I’ve wondered where the designer of the original Ssangyong Stavic has been hiding out ever since it was released.. now I think I’ve worked it out.


The new Prius looks like it takes a slightly different approach to previous models, with Toyota suggesting “It’s not just about MPG any more,” according to their press release. Despite this, they’re claiming a 10 percent improvement in fuel economy compared to the previous model. Instead, Toyota is shifting the focus to design and technology, which aside from the gangrenous exterior also includes better driving dynamics and a Toyota Safety Sense package, which includes features such as automatic pedestrian avoidance and full-speed dynamic cruise – meaning the car will manage your speed for you, all the way to a full stop in a traffic jam.


The new Prius is expected to go on sale later this year, where it’ll face stiff competition from plug-in electric vehicles which hold the edge in terms of being a more ‘green choice’, not to mention conventional petrol and diesel passenger vehicles which aren’t that far behind the Prius’ MPG figures. Toyota faces real challenge to get Prius sales back on the upswing – something they will only achieve by making the vehicle more appealing beyond the green car claims. But only if it doesn’t scare everyone away first.

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Jack C. December 19, 2016 at 7:16 am

I think the rear & taillights are the only seriously ugly part of the Prius. The fish-mouth grille on the new Camry is similarly awkward. The long snout on the new Tacoma isn’t great either (apparently a pedestrian crumple zone that makes the truck look ungainly).

Is the same team doing all this new styling? They lack a sense of flow and balance.

busdriver October 19, 2016 at 12:40 am

My 2010 Prius is coming up on 100,000 miles; I’ve been an extremely satisfied owner (with the exception of the door actuators constantly going out, but fortunately we know how to fix those ourselves), and had assumed my next car would be another Prius. But now this monstrosity has hit the market. I can NOT be seen in this hideous vehicle. We’re now exploring other options and have even put down a deposit on a Tesla Model 3 just in case we want to go that route. No more Prius for me.

Eric August 20, 2016 at 4:00 am

My thought exactly! I see the handiwork from an outcast design team from their Lexus division (I wasn’t impressed with Lexus’s new styling direction either). If the designer of the original Ssangyong Stavic wasn’t involved, he/she should feel a little better now

Sven May 15, 2016 at 4:22 am

My goodness, were the folks who signed off on this design high..? The rear looks like someone smacked into it real hard before you even drive it for the first time.
Combined with the complete absence of any emotion with the interior design this will likely the last time that I contemplated getting that car. I rather wait for a fuel cell version of the Tesla Model S – even better economy and great design. This Prius is embarrassing.

Tom September 14, 2015 at 7:54 am

I do believe that Toyota has forgotten how to design anything except the drive-train of a vehicle! I can find little to recommend this car!

the guy with no name September 11, 2015 at 3:58 am

This thing is revolting, it looks like a dog tried to perform plastic surgery on itself. I can accept an ugly car if it had something going for it, but this has nothing.

I don’t know why, but the Japanese have always been terrible at designing cars (no offence to the Japanese). The only exceptions I can think of are the Mazda Furai (which burnt to a crisp on the TGTT), the current Mazda 6 and the Toyota FT1 (the VGT concept) which looks bloody awesome (but is useless around a track).


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