WHAT IT IS: The Toyota Prius, once the darling of the eco-conscious and pioneer of the hybrid car segment, has started to fall to the wayside. Always looking a bit quirky, the current Prius has leaned in to being different and it still looks uniquely Prius. Its competitors have tried to blend in more with non-hybrid cars, but Toyota is sticking to their guns.
That’s really not a bad thing though, because there are large number of Prius owners out there, and while they may desire to jump to an electric car (or the plug-in electric Prius Prime), the Prius is still there with open arms and a $24,200 base MSRP. The current-generation Prius was introduced in 2015 and received a facelift in 2018, so we’re getting towards the end of the cycle and a replacement may be in the next few years, but sales have slipped so far that they may not introduce a replacement or at least eliminate the traditional hybrid configuration and go all-in on plug-in hybrids and/or an electric-only drivetrain.
With all that being said, the current Prius is still really good. You have four different trims to choose from, L, LE, XLE and Limited. My test model was a Limited, which carries a roughly $8,000 price premium over the base car. You get adaptive bi-LED headlights, an 11.6-inch infotainment system with navigation, color HUD, premium wheels, SofTex trimmed and heated front seats, a Qi wireless smartphone charger, JBL stereo, and more. The only option available on the Limited is a moonroof for $515 extra.
Driving the Prius is still like driving any other car. There’s no plugging it into any outlets and you have to go to the gas station, just not very often as the Prius gets 54 MPG in city driving. You really don’t need anything bigger than the 11.3 gallon gas tank it comes with, since you can drive for roughly 600 miles on $20 worth of gas. Living with the Prius everyday is great, and I loved the giant infotainment screen.
Driving the Prius is fine with completely adequate acceleration, room for four adults and plenty of cargo room in the back. The Prius is the kind of car that everyone should be driving, but because gas prices are historically low and consumer preferences are leaning towards a higher ride-height, this is not in the ballpark of consideration for most new car shoppers, and that’s a shame because the Prius is enough vehicle for 95% of users.
MPG: 54 city/50 highway
PRICE: $34,440 as-tested.
UPSIDES: Incredible gas mileage.
WRAP-UP: Owning a Prius or being a “Prius person” has effectively been a political statement, and it’s a statement at ends with Houston being the oil and gas capitol of the world. A vehicle like the RAV4 hybrid, which is roughly the same price as the Prius and provides up to 41 MPG city/38 MPG highway and answers consumer preferences, is a more up-to-date way (and likely won’t garner a second glance in the Exxon parking lot). The Prius is good, but it might not be good enough for 2020 anymore.