While Toyota isn't saying anything yet about the upcoming hybrid, a flurry spy shots are already painting a picture of what to expect. The exterior has a stretched shape compared to the current model and wears a silhouette akin to the latest Chevrolet Volt. The interior is also completely revised with a new infotainment screen, and the gearshift is now mounted much lower on the dashboard.
Underneath the redesigned body, the fourth-generation Prius moves to Toyota's new TGNA platform. The lighter, more rigid underpinnings could push the hybrid to 57.5 miles per gallon combined. The switch also reduces production costs due to more shared parts.
Of course, other variants of the new model are planned, as well. There's speculation that there could be two versions: one with a nickel-metal hydride battery and another with a lithium-ion unit offering better economy. The next-gen Prius Plug-in is also rumored to offer 35 miles of fully electric driving range.
The latest Prius launches at a challenging time with falling green-car sales in the US. The new model also has something to prove because the hybrid's whole range is down over 15 percent through July. How the vehicle performs should answer whether the one-time icon still matters.