I was really shocked when I read on Toyota’s website that it is planning to add a TRD variant to the Prius lineup. Now if you are a newbie in the automotive world, the Toyota Prius is Toyota’s smallest hybrid whose base drive-train produces meager 99 hp on the Prius C hatchback. This is the vehicle Toyota plans to add a TRD version. I am quite interested to learn how Toyota plans to pull this off considering the model must deliver around 180 hp or more to be considered a true TRD. Usually, the Prius is meant for buyers looking for an mpg booster, i.e. a model that delivers high fuel economy. The automaker will also need to stiffen the 2018 Toyota Prius TRD suspension as well as upgrade the model’s cabin from the current one riddled with cheap plastics to make it a genuine performance-oriented variant. However, I believe Toyota has it all figured out.
The TRD version will help add the much-needed fun behind the Prius wheel and do away with the model’s stereotype as an “eco soldier”. It will not be a walk in the park though particularly to American buyers who are very choosy. I welcome this development and I can’t wait to take a 2018 Toyota Prius TRD for a test drive.
2018 Toyota Prius TRD Exterior
Considering the Prius gained a new look for the 2016 model year, I don’t expect the 2018 Toyota Prius TRD exterior profile to be very different. For example, the front fascia will likely carry over with its “X” look. The slim headlights housed in quad square housings will also likely carry over. There might be some accenting strips to set it apart from regular models.
One thing is sure though; the model will be enhanced for better aerodynamics including a longer front splitter, extended side skirts as well as a rear apron. According to rumors, the model will have lightweight multi-spoke aluminum-alloy wheels with a dark finish to make it look sportier. The roof and C-pillars may be finished in a different color than the body, probably satin black to also make the TRD look sportier compared to its regular siblings. The exterior profile will also have several TRD badges on various areas like on the nose, front fender and on the rear fascia to ensure no one confuses it with other Prius models.
Although the cabin will be upgraded to reflect its performance-orientation, I don’t expect much to change. I believe the front layout of the cabin will remain unchanged. However, Toyota will enlarge the infotainment touch-screen most likely it will be a 7.0-inch unit. There will also be a 4.2-inch digital instrument cluster to display features such as selected gear, speed and battery charge among other features.
The steering wheel will also be sporty; I expect it to be a 3-spoke unit with multifunction controls. It will also be likely wrapped in leather and carry a TRD badge at the center to flaunt its performance orientation. The Prius TRD will also likely get sporty front seats with big side bolsters as well as aluminum pedals for enhanced grip.
To save weight, unnecessary items such as sound insulation will also likely be done away with.
Engine and performance
It remains to be seen what Toyota plans to do to boost the current meager drive-train output to reach levels than can be considered good enough for a performance-oriented model. The most likely thing to do is to add some boost to the current drive-train. For a refresher, the most powerful mill in the Prius lineup is a 1.8 L, 4-cylinder engine that combines with an electric motor backed by an 8.8 kWh lithium-ion battery. The combination produces 121 hp that is channeled to the front wheels. This output level is not good enough for a TRD.
The boost will likely come from a turbocharger as well as an upgraded hybrid system. This may help add around 60 hp to take the overall output to 180 hp. This may help reduce the model’s dash to 60 mph to around 6 seconds. Unlike the current setup which uses a planetary-type CVT transmission, I expect the TRD to use a sporty automatic transmission system with paddle shifters. To help keep the engine in check, there will likely be 4-wheel disc brakes with multi-pistons. I also expect the TRD to come with wider lightweight wheels wrapped in Toyo tires.
Price and release date
I believe the TRD will be the most expensive model in the lineup. Considering the Prius Prime which is the most expensive Prius currently retails at $28,800, I expect the TRD to fetch around $30,000. The TRD will likely be delivered to dealerships early next year but the automaker may showcase the model at the end of this year at an International Auto show. Keep it here for all the latest developments about the upcoming 2018 Toyota Prius TRD.