Arguably the hybrid that started it all, Toyota's Prius continues to win buyers with its unmatched fuel-efficiency and proven battery/gasoline technology. When you consider its other virtues, including practicality and value, it's easy to see why the Prius still remains the most recognized example of hybrid power on the road.
What's New for 2017
Totally redesigned for the 2016 model year, the Prius now gains active-safety features. They’re standard on all versions. Included in the Toyota Safety Sense group are a pre-collision system with pedestrian detection, lane-departure alert with steering assist, full-speed dynamic radar cruise control, and automatic high-beam headlights. Previously, these features came in an option group for upper models.
Choosing Your Toyota Prius
Although the redesigned Prius didn't change much in silhouette last year, the front and rear ends got radically different styling. Front occupants gained roomier seats, and cargo space grew. A new suspension setup provided sharper handling, along with a calmer ride.
Again this year, the Prius is powered by a 1.8-liter four-cylinder engine coupled to a pair of electric motors, one of which doubles as a generator to keep the lithium-ion battery pack charged. Combined output is 121 horsepower, delivered to the front wheels through a continuously variable automatic transmission (CVT).
Swiftness is still not a Prius highlight, but acceleration from a standstill to 60 mph has improved, finally achieved in less than 10 seconds: 9.8, to be precise. As expected, fuel-efficiency is stellar, estimated at 52 mpg in combined city/highway driving (54 mpg in the city and 50 mpg on the highway). The Eco version of the Prius does even better, estimated at 56 mpg combined. On the safety front, the Prius earns a five-star overall crash-test rating from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, plus Top Safety Pick + from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety.
The Prius is available in no less than six trim levels:
Critics still fault the Prius's split back window, but Toyota's hybrid leader has plenty of virtues to offset that imperfection, including improved performance in its latest guise. The price difference between the base Two and the Two Eco is just $480—a modest amount for attaining bragging rights in top-level fuel-efficiency. Higher up the range, the twin Touring models have some intriguing visual elements, but adding standard active-safety features this year helps make every Prius version worth considering.