Toyota Prius review

Open gallery Close by Matt Saunders 18 April 2016 Follow @TheDarkStormy1 Share

How we test cars

As the world’s first mass-produced petrol-electric hybrid, the Toyota Prius’s place in history has always been assured. But few would have predicted the cultural and political impact the Toyota has made on the world – particularly in the US.

Having owners as varied as Hollywood liberals and former CIA chiefs, the Prius has become much less a product and more a statement spun to endorse everything from environmental awareness to a reduction in foreign oil dependency. Any car pointedly driven by characters in both South Park and Family Guy has achieved notoriety well in excess of the usual gauge.

The Toyota Prius has been forging an environmentally-friendly path ever since 1997 Matt SaundersRoad test editor

Yet a car it remains – and one with more competitors than ever.

Since 1997, when the first generation Toyota Prius was launched in Japan, the hybrid and alternative-fuel market has snowballed – aided greatly by the momentum of innovation.

Some of this progress, not least the efficiency enhancements enacted on the humble internal combustion engine in the past decade, has helped date Toyota’s Hybrid Synergy Drive.

So the fourth-generation Toyota Prius’s arrival seems well timed. Right out of the box, Toyota can be bullish about the headline figures: 70g/km of CO2 and 94.1mpg represent a significant improvement – sizable enough to launch the latest Prius beyond any of its family-sized rivals not blessed with an electrified powertrain. Include the addition of plugging in a Toyota Prius PHEV into a charger and the proposition looks even more enticing with a combined cycle of 283mpg and an CO2 output figured at 22g/km. Those gains are the result of extensive revision and refinement of the existing technology.

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In contrast, the car around the hybrid system is genuinely all new and based now on the Toyota New Global Architecture.

Related Toyota Prius reviews

Toyota Prius Plug-in long-term testToyota Prius Plug-in Business Edition Plus 2017 UK first drive2017 Toyota Prius Plug-in2016 Toyota Prius Excel first drive2016 Toyota Prius first drive

The manufacturer has also been bullish about the reconfiguration of the Prius’s hitherto anodyne dynamic performance. Certainly, Toyota knows the Prius must be more now than a virtuous principle on wheels – but has it done enough still to stand out from a larger crowd?


Verdict Model tested: Rating: 8

Toyota Prius

GoodVery well equippedUsable performanceEasy to driveTypically refinedBadNot cheap to buyStyling not exactly elegantResolutely unengaging to drive

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Toyota Prius+ review

Open gallery Close by Richard Bremner 22 June 2012 Share

How we test cars

Given its extraordinary success with the Toyota Prius, the 2.6m sold since 1997 making it the planet’s most popular hybrid, it’s surprising that Toyota’s taken so long to exploit the name’s shiny reputation. But it is now, first with this bigger MPV called Prius+, then with its impressive fourth generation car, it will introduce a plug-in version. 

The Prius+ provides three rows of seats and more load capacity within a longer, reshaped body and uses the familiar 1.8VVTi hybrid drivetrain, but with the vital difference that the battery is now lithium-ion rather than nickel-metal hydride. This more energy-dense pack lives between the front seats, freeing space for the third row. 

You’ll enjoy near total silence when the electric motor does the propelling. But diesels do the job betterRichard BremnerSenior contributing editor

Low emissions are the aim, the forecast best-selling Icon achieving an impressive 95g/km of CO2 to make it the only sub-100g/km MPV. Frustratingly, the bigger-wheeled Excel Plus slips to 101g/km, though.

Room in the middle row, whose three seats recline and fold individually, is decent, while row three will be comfortable enough for kids. Folding the seats is one-handed and produces an almost flat (but high) floor, though with all seats erected there’s only 232 litres of load bay. 

Toyota Prius+ news

Toyota Prius+ gets quieter cabin and new tech for 2016 Toyota Prius+ gets quieter cabin and new tech for 2016 2015 Toyota Prius+ pricing revealed 2015 Toyota Prius+ pricing revealed Geneva motor show 2013: Toyota i-Road Geneva motor show 2013: Toyota i-Road

As for trims, there are three to choose from – Icon, Excel and Excel Plus. The entry-level model adorns the big Prius with 16in alloy wheels, cruise control, climate control, heated front seats and Toyota’s Touch 2 infotainment system. Upgrading to Excel adds 17in alloys, sat nav, adaptive cruise control, reversing camera and an automated parking system, while the range topping Excel Plus trim garnishes the Prius with leather seats, rear TV screens, and automatic lights and wipers.

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A fully laden Prius+ won’t be speedy, especially with eco mode engaged, its power parcelled in austerity style.

Related Toyota Prius+ reviews

Toyota Prius+ first drive

Sink the accelerator and the CVT transmission provokes a sharp, continuous and unappealing drone that needs much better suppression, although quiet is restored at a cruise.

Handling is tidier than you’d expect and the ride pleasingly level, although sharper bumps betray a lack of pliancy.

Mostly it’s comfortable and well-kitted despite a slightly depressing shades-of-grey-cabin that’s not good enough at this price. Which is too high in this class, low emissions or not.

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