The Toyota Prius is a popular hybrid car. The Prius has seen a lot of competition in recent years, but none of them can match the electrified icon. The Hyundai Insight is more efficient, while the Honda Insight is a better driver. Toyota’s Corolla Hybrid, on the other hand, is less expensive and has similar fuel economy. They all look a lot more attractive than the Prius. If your idea of having fun behind the wheel is to see how much fuel you can save on your commute, the Prius won’t offer much in terms of driving pleasure. The Prius’ spacious interior and great fuel economy make it very competitive. It’s also the only direct competitor to offer all-wheel drive. It also comes with Toyota’s reliability reputation, making it a smart purchase.
What’s new for 2021?
While the Prius is largely unchanged for 2021 it will be updated with a special Prius 2020 Edition, which includes more safety and driver-assistance features. This special edition celebrates 20 years of Prius sales in America and is based upon the XLE trim. Only 2,020 units will be made. The 2020 Edition Prius comes standard with black 17 inch wheels, black exterior trim and the option of either Supersonic Red (or Wind Chill Pearl) as an option. Pedestrian-and-bicyclist detection is now standard on the 2021 model, as are automatic high beam headlamps. Android Auto is available on all trim levels, except the Limited.
Pricing and Which One To Buy
The XLE AWD e is our pick from the Prius lineup. It has heated and power-adjustable seating, heated steering wheel and proximity-key function. The AWD-e denotes an electric all-wheel-drive. Based on real-world testing results, the fuel economy penalty for this all-wheel drive system was almost negligible. You can also get the Advanced Technology Package, which includes navigation and a head up display.
Engine, Transmission, & Performance
The hybrid powertrain of the Prius is not capable to deliver thrilling, or even amusing acceleration. The Prius’s inability to deliver thrilling acceleration is not something that can be ignored. However, many competitors have shown that it is possible to achieve world-leading fuel economy with acceptable performance. The 2021 Prius is not a vehicle that offers much in terms of driving pleasure and refinement. The hybrid-driven Priuses have an electric motor that powers the rear wheels and functions independently from the hybrid system. Hybrid vehicles use both friction and regenerative brakes. Braking is an issue that hybrid vehicles often have to deal with. Inconsistent or numb feedback from the brake pedal as we experienced in the Prius is often the trade-off and, combined with the low-rolling-resistance tires that most hybrids wear, can make for longer braking distances in our testing than we would expect from similar-size non-hybrid vehicles.
Fuel Economy and Real World MPG
According to the EPA, the most economical Prius Eco can earn up to 58 mpg city and 53 mpg highway. Other front-drive models are EPA rated at 53 mpg in the city and 50 mpg highway. People who prefer to drive on highways and enjoy the rush of traffic may be disappointed to find that the Prius only delivered 46 mpg in our 200-mile highway fuel economy test. This test is conducted at a constant 75 mph, which was 4 mpg below its EPA rating. The EPA expects the all-wheel drive model to earn 52 mpg in the city and 48 on the highway. During our testing, the XLE AWD E returned 47 mpg on our 200-mile loop at 75 mph. This is 3 mpg less than its EPA rating but 1 mpg more than a front wheel drive model.
Interior, Comfort, & Cargo
The interior is made up of a lot of plastic, which makes sense considering that the Prius has an advanced powertrain. We still wish for better trims. The interior could be decorated in luxurious leather, but we have reservations about the central-mounted information gauges that require drivers to look at the road too often. The Prius has plenty of space for passengers. There’s enough room for four six-footers with the upright seating. However, there are many rivals that offer more legroom for those in the back. Although the Prius’ hatchback design means that there is plenty of cargo space behind the back seat, it’s not the largest vehicle in this set of competitors. The shifter is mounted on the dash, which makes it possible to store cargo in the front area. Rear cubby storage is restricted to the two small pockets in the doors and the cupholders located in the pull-down center armrest.
Connectivity and Infotainment
With the exception of the Limited trim, all trims of the Toyota Prius come with a touchscreen infotainment system that measures 7.0 inches. The 7.0-inch touchscreen infotainment system features a variety of features including AM/FM radio, Bluetooth capability and USB connectivity. It also features Android Auto, Apple CarPlay, and Amazon Alexa. Android Auto is a new feature in the Prius for 2021. Limited trim levels get a 11.6-inch touchscreen system that is vertically oriented. It features all the same features of the smaller 7.0 inch system, with the exception that Android Auto is not compatible with it.