If you’re looking for a dependable and fuel-efficient vehicle that is eco-friendly and doesn’t empty out your wallet every time you go to the gas station, consider the Toyota Prius. Since its inception in 1997, the Prius is one of the most sought-after hybrid vehicles in the marketplace and currently sets the standard for hybrid technology. Toyota remains a front-runner in the hybrid industry because their technology is constantly improving while also providing consumers with a luxury hybrid vehicle that they can afford.
The Toyota Prius was revamped in 2016 with new features that carried over to the 2017 model; however, Toyota also introduced the plug-in variant called the Prius Prime into the lineup in 2017. Many specs and features from the 2017 Prius can also be found in 2018, 2019, and 2020 models. If you’re looking at either the 2019 or 2020 Toyota Prius, you’ll be happy to know that starting in 2019, alloy wheels are now a standard feature with all models.
Price and Value
The Prius varies in price depending on the model and features. The L Eco starts at $24,200 while the Limited model starts at $32,375. Of course, probably the biggest selling point of the Prius is its fuel economy; all models get great gas mileage with the L Eco leading the way at 58 miles per gallon in the city and 53 miles per gallon on the highway.
Size and Seating Capacity
The Toyota Prius is a small hybrid vehicle; however, it has enough room to seat five people comfortably. The front seats offer lots of legroom and headroom for the driver and passenger while the back seat provides plenty of room for taller people to sit without feeling cramped. The front seats offer 39.4 inches of headroom. The legroom up front is quite impressive at 42.3 inches, and the front shoulder room offers 55 inches of space.
If you need to install child safety seats, that’s not a problem. The Toyota Prius contains LATCH connectors on both the rear driver and passenger side of the vehicle. Additionally, there’s a tether-only LATCH connection located in the middle rear seat. The Prius is designed with LATCH connectors that are very easy to use and are compatible with newer and older child safety seats, making the Prius one of the safest vehicles for infants and toddlers.
Battery, Range and Engine Specs
The Toyota Prius comes with a 1.8-liter gasoline engine that offers 96 horsepower at 5,200 rpm and 105 pound-feet of torque at 3,600 rpm. The 11.3-gallon gas tank is designed with a plastic bladder that reduces gasoline vapors, and variable valve timing enhances fuel efficiency. The engine is an inline 4-cylinder DOHC with a compression ratio of 13.0:1, and it has a displacement of 1,497cc.
The permanent magnet AC electric drive motor produces a maximum torque of 120 pound-feet and 71 horsepower. It works on a permanent-magnet drive design, which requires little maintenance because the engine’s internal components never wear out. Some Prius models come with a Lithium-ion battery with a voltage of 207.2. Other models, like the LE and XLE all-wheel-drive versions, come with a sealed nickel-metal hydride battery at 201.6 volts. The Prius Prime model can be charged in less than 5.5 hours while public charging stations can fully charge the Prime in about 2 hours and 10 minutes.
When it comes to fuel economy, it’s hard to beat a Toyota Prius. You can expect some Prius models, like the Limited hatchback, to get an EPA-estimated 54 miles per gallon in the city and 50 mpg for highway driving with a combined mpg of 52. If you want an even better fuel economy, you should consider the Prius L Eco; it gets 58 mpg in the city and 53 mpg for highway use with a combined 56 mpg. A 2018 Prius Prime can go about 640 miles on just one tank of gas. The Toyota Prius also has an advanced hydrocarbon catalyst and absorber system for reduced exhaust emissions.
The Toyota Prius base trim is well-equipped with a wide range of standard features. You will enjoy the fact that the L, LE, XLE and Limited models all come with standard features such as push-button start, automatic climate control and adaptive cruise control. Prius models also come with a rearview camera, a lane departure warning system, an advanced infotainment system, three USB ports, Apple CarPlay and Wi-Fi hot spot technology.
You also get pedestrian detection, anti-lock brakes and Brake Assist technology, blind-spot monitoring, front and rear parking sensors, active parking assist, wireless device charging, a premium audio system, touch screen technology, cross-traffic alert, and a head-up display. Most of these innovative and advanced features are a part of Toyota’s Safety Sense-P technology. The 2020 Prius comes with an 11.6-inch touch screen, which is nearly 1 inch bigger than the 2019 model.
As far as cargo space goes, the 2020 Prius offers 27.4 cubic feet of trunk space with 60/40 split-folding rear seats. You may find that in some trims, including all-wheel-drive models, the size slightly decreases to 24.6 cubic feet. Nonetheless, the Prius provides more cargo space than most other hybrids in its class, and the cabin also offers plenty of space for storing small items and luggage.
In 2016, safety features for the Toyota Prius were revamped and put through rigorous testing to improve passenger safety. In 2017, the Prius Prime implemented the same improved safety features from the 2016 model; however, any Prius Prime manufactured after May of 2018 included a structural brace to the passenger-side bottom-door hinge pillar that increased passenger safety and reduced the risks of overlap frontal crashes. The 2017 to 2019 models all received a superior rating for their pedestrian detection and pre-collision systems.
When it comes to passenger safety, the Toyota Prius also gets high marks from the IIHS. The Toyota Safety Sense-P package includes automatic high beams, adaptive cruise control, automatic emergency braking, active lane control and more. Whether you’re driving alone or you have passengers, you can rest assured that the Toyota Prius is one of the safest hybrid vehicles on the road today. The Toyota Prius also gets a five-star safety rating from the NHTSA, which simply means the more stars a vehicle receives, the safer the vehicle.
The 2020 Prius Prime is very reliable with responsive handling, but what if it runs out of fuel? It can run independently on the electric motor for about 25 miles, which is more than enough to get you to the next refueling station. Automatic emergency braking and forward-collision warning are both standards on the 2020 model Prius. The 2019 Prius incorporates much of the same technology as the 2020 Prius; however, the 2019 model has optional all-wheel drive. You don’t need to worry about finding a place to recharge your Prius as the batteries will charge on their own as the vehicle is driving.
Between 2016 and 2018, the Prius was redesigned with a more reliable and efficient engine that produced an impressive 52 mpg. The Prius may be a smaller vehicle, but it offers the hauling capacity of midsize sedans with an outstanding track record for being both reliable and fuel-efficient. The spacious rear seat and upright stance make the Prius a logical choice for most car buyers who want low running costs with great reliability. Not only do you get a reliable hybrid vehicle with a Toyota Prius, but you also get a transportation solution that saves you money on fuel expenses.
Some consumers have reported that the 2018 Toyota Prius features uncomfortable seating. The factory-installed tires are designed for high mileage, but they don’t absorb shocks in the road all that well, and they’re also noisy. Driving over uneven terrain can feel bumpy and rough; however, most consumers report smooth driving and handling on paved roads. The Prius is not built for acceleration but more for its fuel economy. When compared to other vehicles in its class, it does lack in the acceleration department, so if you want more power, you may have to consider a different vehicle.
Another drawback of the Prius is the cabin noise while driving down the road, especially at speeds over 55 mph. Reports have also suggested the Prius lets in a lot of noise from the engine, road, and weather elements such as wind and rain. The problem seems to be in the lack of insulation in the cabin, and the bottom line is that this is not a quiet vehicle. The interior trim package appears to be made from material such as the cloth upholstery that tends to deteriorate over the long run. Some of the buttons and knobs also look to be prone to wear and tear; however, there’s no clear evidence suggesting issues with breakage or malfunctioning controls from usage for most Toyota Prius models.
Despite some drawbacks, if you’re looking for a top-quality hybrid featuring outstanding fuel economy and a history of reliability, the Prius should fit the bill.