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Top Features of Base Model
- Mild restyle for 2019
- All-wheel-drive option added
- Trim levels simplified
- Prius Eco offers highest fuel-economy rating
Toyota Prius: Everything You Need to Know
About the Prius:
The Toyota Prius is the best-known hybrid car on sale, and it’s among the most fuel-efficient without a plug-in feature. It’s always looked odd but delivered great gas mileage, and the current model takes both to new extremes. It’s a compact-to-midsize five-door hatchback that holds four people comfortably, plus a fifth in a pinch.
Spending less on gas is the major reason to buy a Prius, and it should deliver close to 50 mpg, no matter what you do to it. Sales have plummeted as gas prices have stayed low, so bargains may be available.
The Toyota Prius Prime is a separate model with a plug-in hybrid powertrain. Rated at 54 mpg combined and 25 miles of electric range, it’s reviewed separately.
What’s New in the 2019 Toyota Prius?
The Toyota Prius has been updated for 2019, with restyled rear end and taillights that address criticisms of the previous design. There’s a new all-wheel-drive option, though it’s not very powerful. The company has also simplified the trim levels.
All Priuses use a specially tuned 1.8-liter four-cylinder engine that works with two electric motors to power the front wheels. Combined power rating is 121 horsepower. All models drive through a continuously variable automatic transmission (CVT).
The Prius versions for 2019 are:
- Prius L Eco: This base model has fewer features but delivers the best EPA rating: 56 mpg combined.
- Prius LE, XLE, and Limited: Moving up the ladder, these trim levels add successively more features. All three are EPA-rated at 52 mpg combined.
- Prius AWD: All-wheel drive is a new option on the XLE and Limited trims. An added high-torque, five-kilowatt (seven-horsepower) electric motor between the rear wheels gives added traction when needed. With AWD, the EPA mileage rating falls to 50 mpg combined.
What Does the 2019 Toyota Prius Compete With? The Prius competes both with other hybrids and with fuel-efficient small cars for buyers interested in economy above all else. Competitors include:
Exterior Design of the 2019 Toyota Prius
The Prius always been shaped to slip through the air with minimal resistance, which has meant a low-nose, high-tail shape. The current model takes it to new extremes, with added swoops, accents, curves, and vents on every panel.
For 2019, Toyota restyled the tail to eliminate the tall, question-mark-shaped light that outlined the tall, fat rear. More horizontal lights draw attention away from the height of the tail; it’s an improvement. LED headlights and daytime running lights are standard.
Interior Style in the 2019 Toyota Prius
The current Toyota Prius retains the central readout at the base of the windshield for numeric and graphical information. An 11.6-inch vertical touchscreen sits atop the center of the swoopy dash on top models. Lower-end versions get a smaller 6.1-inch screen.
The Prius seats four adequately, though rear headroom is tight. A fifth person can squeeze into the rear for short trips. The sculpted front seats are adequately comfortable, with manual adjustment on the base model.
Materials are a mix of soft-touch and hard plastics, along with a surfeit of high-gloss plastic surfaces. They’re a step up from earlier Prius versions, but they’re far from the best for cars in the same price range. Interior storage space is about average. Cargo volume is a generous 27 cubic feet.
Technology: (What Technology Comes in the 2019 Toyota Prius?)
The main technology in the Prius is its highly efficient, hybrid gas-electric powertrain. Beyond that, it has a fairly standard array of features for a Toyota of its size and price. It also has the quirk that Apple CarPlay and Android Auto are not offered, which will be a distinct demerit for some buyers.
The biggest array of tech features is limited to the XLE Limited trim. This includes remote start, wireless phone charging, adaptive headlights, and a premium audio system.
What Kind of Safety Features are in the 2019 Toyota Prius?
The Prius now has automatic emergency braking and adaptive cruise control as standard equipment. Other active safety features like blind-spot monitors and parking assist are standard from the LE trim level up. A head-up display is part of a high-end option package.
The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) named the 2019 Prius a Top Safety Pick. It received the top rating of “Good” for all tests except the passenger small-overlap front crash, where it got an “Acceptable.” Its headlights were also rated “Acceptable,” better than many of its competitors in the new IIHS headlight effectiveness test.
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) gave the Prius its top five-star rating overall. But it got four-star ratings on individual front crash and rollover tests.
What is the 2019 Toyota Prius Like to drive?
All occupants sit fairly low in the Prius, but visibility out the front is excellent. However, the rear view is compromised by thick roof pillars and the split tailgate windows.
The driving characteristics of the current Prius have improved considerably over previous generations. But that’s relative. It holds the road well enough, but its steering still delivers little road feel.
The Prius remains slow overall, and drivers must learn to plan passing maneuvers carefully. Toyota has done a good job isolating the hybrid engine howl from the cabin. Riders will be aware when the car is delivering maximum power, but they’ll no longer wonder if the noises it makes are normal.
Should I Buy a Current 2019 Toyota Prius?
Buyers seeking to maximize fuel economy and minimize gas costs historically turned to the Prius. Now it competes with a number of rivals, including the midsize Camry sedan, that get close to the same EPA ratings without the unusual style of the Prius.
If you do buy a Prius, go for the Prius L Eco. It has fewer features but gets you a higher EPA rating (56 mpg) than any other model. We’re also skeptical about the value of the all-wheel drive option; it’s of pretty minimal added benefit.
Should I buy a Used Toyota Prius? Are There Any I Should Avoid?
Toyotas tend to retain their value as used cars, and Priuses follow that rule, as well. But a used Prius can still be a good deal. The battery packs and hybrid systems are durable, and many taxi services use the cars to 300,000 miles without failures.
The best value today may be the 2010-2015 Prius, which has considerably more modern features than earlier generations. It doesn’t offer the active safety features of the latest models, but it’ll deliver good fuel economy. Best of all, its design is almost restrained in comparison to the current model.
How Much Does the New 2019 Toyota Prius Cost?
The base Toyota Prius L Eco carries a starting price of $24,700 and delivers the best gas mileage of any Prius. The mid-range LE model starts at $25,910, and the premium XLE starts at $28,750. An XLE Limited model with all the bells and whistles approaches the mid-30s. All prices include a mandatory $930 delivery charge.
The relative price of a Prius is lower now than it was years ago. Plus, dealers may be willing to bargain now that fuel economy is less compelling to buyers. If saving money on gas is your top priority, the Prius offers good value.
Pros and Cons of the 2020 Toyota Prius
- The most fuel-efficient midsize car
- Battery reliability established over 20 years
- Should deliver 45 to 55 mpg
- Legendary Toyota build quality
- Styling is at best an acquired taste
- Apple CarPlay and Android Auto not available
- Slow acceleration
- 50-mpg Camry Hybrid now a competitor, too
- Hybrids no longer cutting-edge, replaced by electric cars
The History of the Toyota Prius: 20 years of Prius
The first Toyota Prius hit the U.S. market in 2000. It was a subcompact four-door sedan and was very slow. The 2004 Prius grew to a compact-sized hatchback and reached the market just as gas prices soared. Sales took off and made Toyota’s reputation as a hero of fuel-efficient hybrid cars.
The third-generation Prius, released in 2010, was a midsize refinement of the previous version. It wasn’t until the fourth generation in 2016 that the Prius was entirely redesigned.
The most obvious change for 2016 was the radical and expressive styling. It was not well received in the U.S., and sales plummeted at the same time gas prices stayed low. The third and fourth generations of Prius each had a plug-in hybrid variant as well.
Specs & Key Features of the 2020 Toyota Prius
- Body Style
- 1.8L 4-Cylinder DOHC 16V VVT-i
- 121 hp
- Continuously Variable Automatic
- Passenger Doors
- Passenger Seating
- Front Wheel Drive
- City MPG
- Hwy MPG
- Air Conditioning
- Apple CarPlay
- Back Up Camera
- CD Player
- Cruise Control
- LCD Monitor
- LED Lights
- Lane Departure Alert
- Lane Departure Warning
- Remote Keyless Entry
- Tinted Glass
- Engine: 1.8L 4-Cylinder DOHC 16V VVT-i -inc: aluminum block and head
- Transmission: Continuously Variable Automatic -inc: Electronically Controlled (ECVT)
- Engine Auto Stop-Start Feature
- Front-Wheel Drive
- 4.11 Axle Ratio
- Battery w/Run Down Protection
- Hybrid Electric Motor
- Gas-Pressurized Shock Absorbers
- Front And Rear Anti-Roll Bars
- Electric Power-Assist Steering
- 11.3 Gal. Fuel Tank
- Single Stainless Steel Exhaust
- Strut Front Suspension w/Coil Springs
- Double Wishbone Rear Suspension w/Coil Springs
- Regenerative 4-Wheel Disc Brakes w/4-Wheel ABS, Front Vented Discs, Brake Assist and Hill Hold Control
- Lithium Ion Traction Battery
- Wheels: 6.5J x 15" 5-Spoke Alloy -inc: full wheel covers
- Tires: P195/65R15
- Spare Tire Mobility Kit
- Clearcoat Paint
- Body-Colored Front Bumper w/Black Bumper Insert
- Body-Colored Rear Bumper w/Black Rub Strip/Fascia Accent
- Black Side Windows Trim, Black Front Windshield Trim and Black Rear Window Trim
- Body-Colored Door Handles
- Body-Colored Power Heated Side Mirrors w/Manual Folding
- Fixed Rear Window w/Fixed Interval Wiper and Defroster
- Light Tinted Glass
- Variable Intermittent Wipers
- Galvanized Steel/Aluminum Panels
- Lip Spoiler
- Black Grille
- Front License Plate Bracket
- Liftgate Rear Cargo Access
- Tailgate/Rear Door Lock Included w/Power Door Locks
- Auto Off Projector Beam Led Low/High Beam Auto High-Beam Daytime Running Lights Preference Setting Headlamps w/Delay-Off
- LED Brakelights
- Radio: AM/FM w/7" Touchscreen Display -inc: CD player, 6 speakers, auxiliary port, USB 2.0 media port w/iPod connectivity and control, 2 USB 2.1 amp charge ports, advanced voice recognition, hands-free phone capability, phone book access and music streaming via Bluetooth wireless technology, Siri Eyes Free, Apple CarPlay and Amazon Alexa
- Radio w/Seek-Scan, Clock, Speed Compensated Volume Control and Steering Wheel Controls
- Integrated Roof Antenna
- 3 LCD Monitors In The Front
- Front Bucket Seats -inc: 6-way adjustable driver's seat and 4-way adjustable front passenger seat
- Driver Seat
- Passenger Seat
- 60-40 Folding Bench Front Facing Fold Forward Seatback Rear Seat
- Manual Tilt/Telescoping Steering Column
- Gauges -inc: Speedometer, Odometer, Traction Battery Level, Power/Regen, Trip Odometer and Trip Computer
- Power Rear Windows
- Front Cupholder
- Rear Cupholder
- Proximity Key For Doors And Push Button Start
- Remote Keyless Entry w/Integrated Key Transmitter, 2 Door Curb/Courtesy, Illuminated Entry, Illuminated Ignition Switch and Panic Button
- Remote Releases -Inc: Power Fuel
- Cruise Control w/Steering Wheel Controls
- Distance Pacing
- Automatic Air Conditioning
- HVAC -inc: Underseat Ducts
- Illuminated Glove Box
- Driver Foot Rest
- Interior Trim -inc: Piano Black Instrument Panel Insert, Piano Black Door Panel Insert and Chrome/Metal-Look Interior Accents
- Full Cloth Headliner
- Urethane Gear Shift Knob
- Fabric Seat Trim
- Day-Night Rearview Mirror
- Driver And Passenger Visor Vanity Mirrors w/Driver And Passenger Illumination
- Full Floor Console w/Covered Storage, Mini Overhead Console w/Storage and 1 12V DC Power Outlet
- Front Map Lights
- Fade-To-Off Interior Lighting
- Full Carpet Floor Covering
- Carpet Floor Trim
- Cargo Area Concealed Storage
- Folding Cargo Cover
- Cargo Features -inc: Spare Tire Mobility Kit
- Cargo Space Lights
- Safety Connect Tracker System
- Smart Device Integration
- Driver And Passenger Door Bins
- Power 1st Row Windows w/Driver And Passenger 1-Touch Up/Down
- Delayed Accessory Power
- Power Door Locks w/Autolock Feature
- Systems Monitor
- Trip Computer
- Outside Temp Gauge
- Digital Display
- Seats w/Cloth Back Material
- Manual Adjustable Front Head Restraints and Manual Adjustable Rear Head Restraints
- Front Center Armrest and Rear Center Armrest
- 2 Seatback Storage Pockets
- Engine Immobilizer
- 1 12V DC Power Outlet
- Air Filtration
- Electronic Stability Control (ESC)
- ABS And Driveline Traction Control
- Side Impact Beams
- Dual Stage Driver And Passenger Seat-Mounted Side Airbags
- Safety Connect Emergency Sos
- Toyota Safety Sense C
- Lane Departure Alert (LDA) Lane Keeping Assist
- Lane Departure Alert (LDA) Lane Departure Warning
- Low Tire Pressure Warning
- Dual Stage Driver And Passenger Front Airbags
- Curtain 1st And 2nd Row Airbags
- Airbag Occupancy Sensor
- Driver Knee Airbag and Passenger Cushion Front Airbag
- Rear Child Safety Locks
- Outboard Front Lap And Shoulder Safety Belts -inc: Rear Center 3 Point, Height Adjusters and Pretensioners
- Back-Up Camera