2. All about fuel economy
This is NOT a vehicle for speed demons and drivers who want power. It’s the opposite of that.
Sure, there is a Power mode (Eco, Normal and Power are your choices), but this version of Power is more like Eco mode on regular ICE (internal combustion engine) vehicles. If you want to be blowing by people and get where you’re going in a hurry, choose another vehicle. A lot more people will pass you and the Prius than you will pass in the Prius, so get used to it.
What it’s great for is fuel economy. That’s essentially why this car was invented. Thanks to Toyota’s Hybrid Synergy Drive System, the overall mileage you can acquire in the Prius is stunning.
Official numbers are 50 highway/54 city/52 combined, but I well exceeded that. My peak performance was around 64 mpg. I’m sure it could even go higher if you used your brakes and gas pedal properly and the slope of the road goes your way. With an 11.3 gallon tank, that’s roughly 700 miles attainable on a tank of gas based off my high mpg (and even at the listed amounts you’d be over 550 miles per tank). No other hybrid is going to beat those numbers.
Pure electric vehicles may beat the Prius, but they come with the extra hassle of nightly charging, which is one reason why many folks prefer a hybrid to full electric options.
3. Futuristic design
I’ve heard the Prius called ugly. I won’t go that far. I’ll say it’s got its own flavor. But let’s be real. If you are buying this vehicle for the fuel mileage and the eco-friendly factor, having a funky rear design and odd-shaped headlights and taillights like the Prius does won’t change your mind.
Inside the vehicle is very frugal, lots of hard white plastic and limited luxury, but this isn’t a luxury offering so that’s expected. Wireless charging for your phone is offered.
I will say that the rear sightlines are a bit off due to the unique rear design. And the rear seat is best for two people, though it can fit three in a pinch. The front two seats are roomy and comfortable.
What’s truly unique is the gauge setup in these Priuses. Straight ahead of the driver is nothing; just the steering wheel and the controls it houses (including Toyota’s straightforward cruise control setup, one of my favorites in the industry). But look to the right, in the center of the vehicle, and you get a futuristic dashboard straight out of a sci-fi flick. It houses all the info you need to know, including how well your fuel mileage is going -- even broken down by day so you can track how you are doing and try to beat your own records.
Keeping with this futuristic theme, the shifter is unlike any you’ll find on other vehicles, even hybrid competitors. The little blue knob is easy enough to figure out, though.
4. Safety still rules
Toyota Safety Sense is a feature standard on all Prius models, and includes a Pre-Collision system with Pedestrian Protection, Lane Departure Warning with Steering Assist, Auto high beams, and Dynamic Radar Cruise Control. These features definitely come in handy, and it’s good to see them standard and not offered as options.
5. Still head of the class
The reason Prius has been such a long-standing model with class-leading sales is that is succeeds where other hybrids have failed, reaching mass markets with this technology that not everyone is eager to embrace. The price is right, and the Prius is the best hybrid for pure fuel mileage available. It’s not the fastest, not by a long shot. So know what to expect and what you are looking for in a hybrid. If it’s not for you and you want something a bit punchier, walk away. If it is, you’ll absolutely love it.
Matt Myftiu can be found on Twitter @MattMyftiu.