Fourth-Generation 2017 Toyota Prius Spied: Why Toyota Is Working to Reinvent the Prius

New 2017 Toyota Prius Spied Testing 1 photo
Photo: screenshot from Youtube
      Ask anybody, from a school boy, to your grandmother, about the Toyota Prius and they'll know this is the symbol of green cars. Nevertheless, Toyota wants to ensure its bread and butter eco model doesn't lose its edge on the competition and its engineers are currently working overtime to complete the development of the fourth-generation Prius. They've even been caught on camera and now we have a video for you.
The footage below, which comes from the Prius Chat forums, shows what appears to be a Prius test vehicle. While this has been spotted at a gas station in Baker, on the route that links Las Vegas and California, we can only rely on clues that point out the Prius identity.

"As we are leaving we see a car dressed as it were being road tested. Upon further inspection it looks like it might be a Prius. I took a quick video as I drove by but it's not the best quality," Savior1974, the forum member who spotted the car, said. And yes, in case you were wondering, the man was driving a Prius (3rd generation) himself at the time.

We'll obviously start with the heavy camouflage - the black tape doesn't resemble the usual camo Toyota uses for its prototypes. Even so, the overall shape, as well as the silhouette of the front apron point towards the Prius appearance we all know.

Even the interior, which can be briefly be seen in the video, looks like it fits in this puzzle. In fact, the dashboard seems identical to that of the current, third-gen Prius, which means we're probably dealing with a test mule that conceals the new tech under the clothes of the current model. For one thing, this means we still can't comment on the styling direction of the new Prius.

Toyota knows it needs to reinvent the Prius

People over at Toyota know the value of patience. This is why they've kept the first generation of the car inside Japan, until they could make sure it's good enough to take on the world.

The story is the same with the 4th generation Prius. The vehicle was supposed to come out this year, but its launch has been postponed, because Toyota wanted to upgrade the technology, as well as the styling.

It's a somewhat similar situation to what is happening with the flagship Lexus sedan, the LS - we believe the automaker is striving to avoid delaying the new LS in an attempt to challenge the Mercedes-Benz S-Class, which took the world by surprise thanks to its features when it landed back in 2013.

Returning to the Prius, this faces competition on two fronts. It doesn't even matter if we're talking about the hybrid or the plug-in hybrid version.

Even before we get to talk about that, we have to acknowledge the fact that the days when the Prius could rely on the status it brought for its owners are over. Nowadays the more diverse nature of the market means that, if you want to stand out over driving green machines, you have plenty of other cool alternatives, with Tesla being the most obvious here.

The competitors from outside the company have gotten much stronger than before. For instance, Ford built the C-Max Energi with the precise aim of offering superior efficiency compared to the Prius. Then there's also the VW Golf GTE for those who seek a German approach. Premium aspirations? No problem, the VW Group can offer you their Audi A3 e-tron.

We mustn't forget the pressure that comes from inside Toyota. We're referring to the Mirai FCV here. Sure, the fuel cell car isn't a mainstream product, since calling the hydrogen stations in America an infrastructure would be an overstatement. Even so, the new efficiency promise simply puts a burden on the Prius.

In addition, the low gas prices have kept US hybrid sales from ascending in 2014. Toyota isn't complaining though, since its overall sales jumped 8 precedent to 780,000 cars in the first quarter of 2015.

Toyota has announced that Prius Plug-In Hybrid production will cease next month. We're addressing the folks out there who are waiting for a fresh Prius to land - we know the wait it's difficult, but it will most likely pay out. Expect for the new Prius to arrive in 2016 as a 2017 model.

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About the author: Andrei Tutu
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In his quest to bring you the most impressive automotive creations, Andrei relies on learning as a superpower. There's quite a bit of room in the garage that is this aficionado's heart, so factory-condition classics and widebody contraptions with turbos poking through the hood can peacefully coexist.
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