When a Prius Changes Shape, Is It Still a Prius?

Toyota NS4 concept

Will the next Prius look like this NS4 concept?

The shape of the Toyota Prius defines it as much as its name. In its earlier days, people wanted the hybrid to look different so it was immediately clear to other motorists that the driver cared for the environment and believed in saving money at the pump. That was a time when hybrid buyers were more Ed Begley, Jr., than regular families looking to save a few bucks.

Of course, the Prius’ wedge-like shape also contributes greatly to aerodynamics, helping push mileage figures ever higher.

The current-generation Prius has looked mostly the same since the Bush Administration. Can a new Prius, that looks nothing like a Prius, still sell well for Toyota?

A couple of sources are beginning to talk about a new Prius, which appears to be a stark departure from the car we’ve all come to know and love (or hate).

We’re probably about a year away from the next Prius, and as of now there are no official clues pointing to the design direction of the revised car. But there is the Toyota NS4 concept sedan that Toyota showed at this year’s Detroit Auto Show. And, thanks to our friends at Motor Trend, there’s some secret info from an anonymous source at Toyota, who said:

The design will change significantly, the most radical of which will be the lowering of the hood and waistline. The hood height will drop in height by at least 90 mm [3.5 inches] and it will lose its characteristic wedge shape. The A-pillar will retreat backwards while the roof line will be pushed forward by around 500 mm [19.5 inches] with two aims: 1) to improve aerodynamics and 2) to improve the overall look.

There will also be a new Toyota Hybrid Synergy Drive system in place. Whether the car looks like the Alfa Romeo-esque NS4 concept or not, big changes are in store for America’s most popular hybrid.

Would you be more or less likely to buy a Prius if it looked like the NS4 concept?


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1 Comment

  1. I don’t buy cars based on styling. Ok, I won’t buy a really repulsive car but how it’s built and the technical details are more important than styling. With aerodynamics so important to Prius performance, I still expect the car to stand out from other Toyota products. After all, the Prius is Toyotas premier hybrid technology platform. I thought they did a decent job styling our Prius C, which is decent or a little city car. (And downright attractive compared to a blob like the Chrysler pop car.)

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