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Toyota Prius Review

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heycar review

      Launch year
      2016
      Body type
      Family hatch
      Fuel type
      Hybrid
heycar editorial team

Written by

heycar editorial team

00/10
heycar rating
“Easy-going, odd-looking hybrid ”

Best bits

  • Comprehensive standard equipment in all, especially from Business trim upwards 
  • Excellent, easily achieved economy 
  •  Well built and certain to be reliable

Not so great

  • Hard plastics in the entry-level model
  • Newer hybrid rivals are better to drive
  • It’s looks are very divisive, and difficult to love 

Read by

Toyota Prius Front Side View

Overall verdict

Toyota Prius Front Interior

On the inside

Toyota Prius Front Side View

Driving

Toyota Prius Rear View

How much does it cost to run

Toyota Prius Right Side View

Prices, versions and specification

Overall verdict

"Time, and rivals, have caught up with the Prius, as despite a very well integrated hybrid system the number of rivals that can better its economy has grown markedly in recent years. They include everything from self-charging hybrids like the Prius itself, to plug-in, diesel, petrol and even fully electric cars for the fully environmentally committed."

Toyota Prius Front Side View

Entering its third decade, the Toyota Prius is more than just a car, it’s a cultural phenomenon. Say hybrid and people think Prius, it the flag-bearer for electrically-assisted hybrid power.


Having entered the global lexicon to represent green-leaning mobility does mean the Prius has become a divisive car, as loved by some as it is loathed by others, its visibility has been helped, and arguably hindered, by some very public figures using it as a virtue signalling tool. 


For every Hollywood star, musician or sports person who has proudly driven their Prius for the cameras though, there are legions of owners who simply find its pragmatism and low running costs appealing.


It’ll never be loved by those enthused by cars and driving then, to that audience the Prius is anti-car, but for all the scorn a small minority place at the Prius’ low-rolling resistance wheels and tyres, for everyone else it makes a lot of sense, that it’s a popular private hire taxi choice and the darling of Uber drivers worldwide only underlining that. 


The Prius’s hybrid drivetrain allows it to return good economy, not quite the near 100mpg Toyota used to claim for it under the old consumption measuring system, with the newly measured circa 60mpg now associated with it actually being more realistic, and achievable. 


The current Prius arrived in 2016, Toyota giving it a re-style fairly quickly just two years later, replacing the dramatic front lights with slightly more conventionally styled headlights.


Even post-facelift the Prius remains a quirky looking car, its shape defined by aerodynamic efficiency, with some bold surfacing that makes for busy-looking flanks and an odd-looking rear. Its styling is certainly daring in a somewhat conservative class, that, again, either a positive or a negative depending on your viewpoint. 


Once pretty much operating in a class of one, the Prius can now count a number of more conventionally styled hybrid rivals among its competition, these joining the ranks of familiar compact family hatchbacks like the Ford Focus and Volkswagen Golf, right through to upmarket alternatives like the Audi A3 and Mercedes-Benz A-Class. 


The Prius’ economy champion status has also diminished as its wide range of rivals have seen dramatic improvements in consumption thanks to the adoption of downsized, turbocharged petrol and diesel engines, mild hybrid and stop-start systems. 


Indeed, you don’t have to look too hard to find petrol, turbodiesel or hybrid choices that better the Prius’s claimed figures, while those really invested in reducing emissions can now choose from a growing number of fully electrically-powered choices, too.  


There’s a plug-in model that might attract those buyers, it offering a more useful electric only range, it being reviewed elsewhere on heycar and for those wanting a Prius with a more seats and space, there’s the Prius+, which you can, again, read about in a seperate heycar review. For the regular Prius Toyota keeps the line-up fairly simple; there’s only one engine choice, and the four trim choices are also similarly easy to understand. 


The Prius no longer operates in a class of one, and rivals look a good bit more conventional, while still offering the Prius’s hybrid advantages.


If you're looking for the PHEV version, you need our Toyota Prius Plug-In (2017-) review.


Is the Toyota Prius right for you?

If you’re even considering a Prius then there’s a good chance it’ll be for you. If you want a hybrid, but don’t want the hassle of a plug-in version, or simply cannot accommodate charging one, then the Prius does make sense. 


Diesel hatchbacks might be able to offer similar, if not better economy, but the Prius ability to use its electric motor for short periods around town, does lessen local emissions, though if you want to do over half a mile then you’ll be better served by the plug-in version.


It’s refined and easy, and decently accommodating, too, as many Uber customers can attest to, though for all its pioneering status, there are arguably more appealing alternatives out there now, like Toyota’s own Corolla Hybrid. 


What’s the best Toyota Prius model/engine to choose?

There’s only one engine choice, that being the 1.8-litre petrol with an electric motor providing hybrid assistance to it. There is the option of an all-wheel drive system, but we can’t imagine too many buyers wanting, or needing the extra traction it brings. Toyota offers the Prius in four trim levels, Active being the entry point into the range, it followed by the Business Edition, Business Edition Plus and Excel. 


All are very well specified, though the Active does lose a couple of things we’d want with our Prius, so we’d opt for the Business Edition trim. It adds over Active, a head-up display, auto dimming rear-view mirror, blind spot monitoring and rear cross traffic alert – the latter two useful as the view out the back of the Prius isn’t exactly panoramic – and a wireless charging area for your phone. Business Edition models and up also get the plusher soft-touch material on the dashboard and door trims.  


What other cars are similar to the Toyota Prius?

The Prius might have been the hybrid trailblazer and recognised globally as such, but it’s no longer a unique offering. Indeed, there are plenty of self-charging hybrids, not least Toyota’s own Toyota Corolla and the now ancient Lexus CT, while Hyundai offers the Hyundai Ioniq, and Kia its Kia Niro in a fashionable SUV form. 


That’s the most obvious ‘self-charging’ hybrid options, to which you can add a sizeable number of plug-in hybrids, like the Volkswagen Golf GTE, plug-in versions of the MINI, Mercedes A-Class, Audi A3 and plenty more. If you can live with a conventional engine, any number of compact family hatchbacks will do the job of the Prius, and some will even return greater economy.  


Learn more

Toyota Prius Front Interior

On the inside

Toyota Prius Front Side View

Driving

Toyota Prius Rear View

How much does it cost to run

Toyota Prius Right Side View

Prices, versions and specification