2016 Toyota Prius hybrid is 'heck on wheels' in Super Bowl ad

Toyota's big Super Bowl 50 shows a more exuberant side of Toyota's signature hybrid, in an attempt to highlight the new model's emphasis on driving fun.

Mark Blinch/Reuters/File
A Toyota Prius Hybrid is displayed at the 2016 North American International Auto Show in Detroit.

Every year, Super Bowl ads seem to come closer to overshadowing the "big game" itself.

And there are always at least a few ads for cars as part of the spectacle--sometimes even including green cars.

This year, Toyota is promoting its all-new 2016 Prius hybrid in an ad that describes it as "Heck on wheels."

The 90-second spot shows a more exuberant side of Toyota's signature hybrid, in an attempt to highlight the new model's emphasis on driving fun.

So there's a bit of power sliding, some upbeat music and--because this is still a Prius ad--a little fun at the expense of macho pickup-truck drivers.

As with most car ads, it's unclear whether these antics will actually make anyone want to buy the product being hawked. But, in this case, Toyota really does have a point to make about the character of the new Prius.

While it may not be capable of some of the moves shown in the ad, the redesigned fourth-generation Prius is meant to have a sportier character than previous models.

Toyota has made much of its efforts to make the Prius fun to drive, which have manifested in things like a lower center of gravity and a more rigid body structure.

It's the first among more than a dozen vehicles that will ultimately be based on the Toyota New Generation Architecture (TNGA) platform.

Consequently, the fourth-generation Prius features double-wishbone rear suspension, for more precise feel.

And of course it's impossible to ignore the dramatic new styling, with a front end that's much lower than before, and some elements that seem to allude to the Mirai hydrogen fuel-cell car.

The fun-focused remake is part of a greater mandate by Toyota CEO Akio Toyoda--a race driver in his earlier years--to make the company's products more exciting.

It also reflects the reality of the market the newest Prius is entering,

Battery-electric cars are supplanting conventional hybrids both in terms of advanced-technology image and green credentials.

At the same time, low gas prices and the introduction of more hybrid models have somewhat eroded the Prius' chances in the marketplace.

So even if it doesn't turn out to be "heck on wheels," Toyota needs to give the fourth-generation Prius its best shot at being a heckuva success in showrooms.

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