The appeal was never its looks.
In terms of styling, the Prius has evolved very little since its worldwide debut in 2000, and the changes from the second generation to the current third generation are barely noticeable to anyone not paying close attention. And with so many other hybrids now available, the “look at me saving the planet” appeal isn’t quite as special anymore. The Prius has become frumpy, its hybrid drivetrain now seen as boring and practical rather than world-saving.
So when the designers brought the design for a 2016 Prius that was just a further evolution of the current mom-mobile to the company brass, they were sent back to the drawing board. The higher ups wanted something that appealed more to young people, like the C-HR Concept (pictured). They wanted something exciting, said Mitsuhisa Kato, Toyota’s executive vice president. “We substantially refined the design, and we have finally reached a level where we can offer it next year.” The car will still be wedge-shaped, an aerodynamic necessity, but the car will be lighter and the drivetrain all new.