First Drive: 2017 Prius Prime

The new Prius Prime from Toyota is a plug-in hybrid that pushes the envelope of what we’ve come to expect from hybrid vehicles. That’s not surprising as the Prius brand has led the way in this category for years, and now it’s also coupled with a bolder design to attract even more potential consumers. I drove the Prius Prime on some great roads in SoCal and came away very impressed.

Exterior

As you can see, Toyota has gone with a much more aggressive design for the Prime. It will be interesting to see how loyal Prius buyers react to the new design but in my view it’s a significant improvement. The designers went with a more chiseled profile and edgy character lines along with very distinctive headlights and taillights. The quad LED headlights look like diamonds and highlight the front facia along with a bold acrylic grille, and the rear end with also catch your attention with prominent taillights.

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Toyota pulls the plug on Scion

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Toyota made the surprising announcement this week that it’s giving up on the Scion brand. It’s somewhat surprising from our perspective since we were pretty impressed with the Scion vehicles we tested for this model year.

As it turns out, the three models we tested the FR-S sports coupe, the iA sedan and the iM hatchback — will be rebadged as Toyota models.

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Toyota reveals new Prius in Las Vegas

Toyota has been a trailblazer with the Prius as the company pioneered the hybrid category. After almost twenty years and over 3.5 million sales worldwide, Toyota revealed the fourth generation Prius in the heart of the Las Vegas Strip.

The event took place on the rooftop of the all-new Linq hotel on a hot evening with hundreds of other journalists and guests as the all-new 2016 Prius was elevated above the stage. The sportier design stood out immediately as Toyota has completely reimagined the exterior of the vehicle. The front fascia looks more distinctive with aggressive headlamps, and I liked the rear lamps even more. The new Prius is 2.4 inches longer, 0.6 inches wider and 0.8 inches lower than the previous model, and these subtle changes contribute to the new look. After years of playing it safe, Toyota has opted for bolder designs over the past year and the new Prius continues that approach.

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Car Review: 2015 Toyota Camry Hybrid SE

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Toyota has put a new emphasis on design after years of more conservative designs, and now that approach has been applied to the best-selling car in America: the Toyota Camry. Just one glance at the new front end with its aggressive grille and you immediately know you have something new. Younger buyers will probably embrace the changes, though it will be interesting to see how loyal Toyota buyers react. In our opinion, the changes offer a dramatic improvement, so we suspect most consumers will react favorably.

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Car Review: 2015 Toyota RAV4 XLE

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The Toyota RAV4 was the first compact crossover SUV, debuting over 20 years ago. This popular vehicle is now on its fourth generation in a very crowded and growing segment. We tested the XLE model with the Dynamic Torque Control All-Wheel Drive system.

Over the years, the look of the RAV4 has evolved considerably, as it now sports more of a lower, car-like stance. This sleeker design is becoming more common in this category, and we suspect many buyers will use design as a differentiator in making their decision.

One of the reasons the compact crossover segment is growing has to do with the roominess you get for a smaller vehicle. Like others in this segment, the RAV4 comfortably seats five adults, and we filled up the vehicle several times during our test. It also has plenty of cargo capacity with 38.4 cubic feet behind the rear seats. With the 60/40 split rear seats folded, the space expands to 73.4 cubic feet. This practical feature plus the roominess for passengers in a smaller, affordable vehicle makes the RAV4 and other options in this segment irresistible to many buyers.

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