I recently came across a question from a potential Prius owner. They asked, 'Should I buy a 2015 or a 2016 Toyota Prius?' Initially, I thought this would be a no-brainer; a Gen 4 is better than a Gen 3, right? Then I got thinking, what are the differences between the two?
I concluded that it would be helpful for people looking for a newer Prius to know some fundamental things. If you can make an informed decision, it may help with you enjoying the car more.
Similarity One: The Engines Are Nearly Identical
While it is commonly understood that early Gen 3 Prius is plagued with head gasket issues, Toyota seems to have figure out the fix for that.
Fundamentally the 15' and 16' Prius are the same engine-wise. The good thing is the issues that have been a significant demise to the early Gen 3 are not nearly as prominent.
Similarity Two: Hybrid Battery Is The Same On Some Models
For Generation 4, Toyota introduced a new battery option, Lithium-ion. Generation 3 did not have this option. However, on some Gen 4, the battery pack was still the same 201.6v nickel-metal hydride.
There are advantages to the lithium battery, but overall you are not missing much. EPA ratings between the LIthium and non-lithium cars are pretty much NIL.
If you can get a killer deal on a 2015 Prius, go for it. Sure the body styles are different between 15 and 16 model years, but overall the Gen 4 Prius was a Gen 3 on some level with new tech and more options.
Both are great cars, but I do not think you are necessarily missing out by getting into a late model Gen 3.
That is all for this one. I hope you can find what you are looking for in a Prius. I look forward to seeing you in the next article.
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Peter Neilson is an automotive consultant specializing in electric cars and hybrid battery technologies. He holds a Bachelor of Science in Automotive Service Technology from Weber State University. Peter can be reached on Linkedin and you can tweet him at The_hybrid_guy on Twitter. Find his page on Facebook at Certified Auto Consulting. Read more of Peter's stories at Toyota news coverage on Torque News. Search Toyota Prius Torque News for more in depth Prius coverage from our reporters.