On Thursday Toyota announced that the Prius will soon be joining its Nightshade family of completely blacked-out vehicles. A limited run of 3,400 examples of the hybrid are set to hit dealers in the fall, according to Roadshow.
The very idea of a fully black Prius may seem unusual, but Toyota’s actually been doing this with other cars in its range for a while now. There are currently no less than 10 models, not including the Prius, offering Nightshade special editions. And Toyota is evidently so proud of the Nightshade line it’s even made a website just for it.
Nightshade vehicles feature black wheels, trim, badging and interiors with premium amenities, like SofTex upholstery. Strangely, buyers actually get a choice between three body finishes — black, white and gray — though some cars, like the C-HR, get an additional option that is an actual color, like red.
The Nightshade trim isn’t cheap. On many models, opting for Nightshade will set you back $2,000 to $3,000 more than the base version, which perhaps isn’t terrible on a Corolla, Camry or Avalon. But on trucks and SUVs, the cost can be outrageous. The Sequoia starts at $50,400, but the Nightshade one tacks $10,000 onto that base price. The Tacoma begins at $26,400, but the Nightshade version costs $40,155!
Of course, Toyota isn’t the only manufacturer to offer slightly-tweaked, slightly more exclusive flavors of its products for a fee. But the breadth of the Nightshade line — the fact it’s on everything from the Prius to the Tundra — can’t help but strike me as odd and a touch behind the times. If Toyota did this in, say, 2008, it might’ve been trendier. And I don’t mean to criticize anyone’s sense of automotive style, but taking a milquetoast hybrid whose only claim to fame is being a byword for efficient, sensible transportation and dunking it in a vat of black paint comes off a bit incongruous. What are you trying to prove, little guy?
And Toyota isn’t stopping there. Wednesday it announced a special edition version of the Highlander called the Highlander Hybrid Bronze, which just looks deeply weird. The tone of the rims clashes against the bright gray paint. Besides, if you’re going to make a fashion statement using one of the models in your repertoire, why on earth would you pick the Highlander?
The answer to that question is obviously that these are easy ways for Toyota to get a couple extra thousand dollars — or ten — out of a few sales. It wouldn’t sell Nightshade cars if they didn’t make the company money. With that in mind, I’m looking forward to Toyota’s next questionable appearance package, and I hope it’s something truly outrageous.