We know there are Prius devotees out there. We don't happen to be one of them, despite the fact that the Prius is the best-selling hybrid in history, and it also gets serious efficiency. The fact that it's as ugly as sin has set back the normally voluminous sales figures for the current model. Toyota has made some changes to the 2019 model with AWD as an option and some exterior tweaks to make it look less polarizing. And, yep, we still hate it.
But hold on just a sec! Toyota's about to set loose a TRD (Toyota Racing Development) version of the Prius. And though that might sound like an oxymoron, that doesn't prevent it from being true. The upgraded version will debut at the Tokyo Auto Salon. From the photos here, we can see that the look is more aggressive (relatively speaking, of course), while still looking like a Prius.
Though there won't be any under-the-hood changes, the exterior gets tweaks to make it look faster. There are some performance enhancements, but the changes aren't significant enough to quicken the pulse. There's a body kit with a front spoiler, side skirts, and a small rear diffuser and bumper. It also gets new mirror caps, black bumper trim, a roof-mounted diffuser, and new upsized wheels. TRD badging will tell others that your Prius is trying to be faster.
The fascia looks angrier thanks to the black trim under the headlights that amp up the angularity from the leading edge of the headlights. The new spoiler does the same for the lower fascia with a bigger black portion that flanks the lower grille and occupies the foglight surrounds. The TRD trim is available in Japan and word is that it might make it here, which means you'll see more sinister Priuses driving slowly in the left-hand lane.
But wait! There's more! The TRD Prius also gets motion control headlights, enhanced tire grip, and a strut tower brace set for increased rigidity and better handling. Inside, the car gets a luggage box, a rear sunshade, and a fancy red TRD ignition button that makes it look like a sports car. How deceptive.
Though the changes won't make us head to our local Toyota dealer to buy one, it's good to see that the brand is trying to make the model appeal to more than just fuel-misers. The goal is high sales volumes, and with the introduction of an AWD version and possibly TRD trim bits, it should definitely help matters.
It'll be interesting to see what the next-generation Prius will bring in terms of power and styling. We're hoping the car will be a bit more mainstream and less bizarre, but we acknowledge the fact that Prius loyalists like to be noticed.