Since its birth, the Toyota Prius has been an eco darling, earning praise from green crusaders and A-list celebrities alike for its fuel efficiency and statement-making body. While Toyota's popular hybrid still enjoys that reputation, the reality is that the market has changed – the Prius' fuel economy is still impressive, the proliferation of all-electric vehicles like the Tesla Model S, have stolen some of Toyota's thunder.

That could explain the company's polarizing redesign in 2016. For 2017, that same controversial style carries on, still promising impressive fuel economy in a competent, easy-to-drive package.

Pricing and Equipment

Toyota sells the Prius in six separate trims, starting with the $25,570 (including $885 for destination charges) Prius Two. An Eco version of that model uses a few weight-saving tricks, including a lithium-ion battery rather than a heavier nickel-metal hydride unit, to boost fuel economy from 54 miles per gallon city and 50 mpg highway to 58 city and 53 highway. The next two trims, Prius Three and Prius Four, are also available in better equipped Touring specs, as well.

Standard features on even base Prius' include:

  • Bi-LED headlights with automatic high beams
  • A rear-view camera
  • Push-button start
  • Adaptive cruise control
  • Lane departure warning
  • A 4.2-inch information display in the central dash

All Prius models use a 1.8-liter four-cylinder gas engine and a 71-kilowatt electric motor to generate up to 121 horsepower. The Prius sends that power to the front wheels via an electronically controlled continuously variable transmission.

Performance Pros

Toyota Prius
  • Despite its modest performance, the hybrid powertrain is quick off the line thanks to electric motor's instantaneous torque.
  • Even under harder acceleration, the powertrain is remarkably quiet.
  • The third-generation Prius feels much more solid and stable on the road – this is a far easier vehicle to drive than its predecessors.

Performance Cons

  • The fuel economy is truly fantastic, but it you need a lot of patience to achieve the EPA numbers. This is not a vehicle that just magically achieves 50 mpg – you need to work at it.
  • It is extremely slow. Like, really slow.

Interior Pros

  • The Prius remains a comfortable vehicle for four adults, with adequate room in the second row and plenty of headroom, despite the sloping roofline.
  • The liftback body is brilliant at swallowing cargo. The low rear bumper and huge aperture make loading truly easy, while the actual capacity is only slightly lower than the Honda Civic Hatchback

Interior Cons

  • Parking brake placement – just above and to the right of the dead pedal – means drivers will kick the brake every time they get behind the wheel.
  • The available white plastic center console looks and feels cheap and is a magnet for dust and dirt.
  • Toyota needs to abandon the centralized dash. There's really no good reason for it to exist, particularly on the latest model, which displays so much usefull information.

The Most Pleasant Surprise

The Prius feels so much tighter and more pinned-down at freeway speeds. It's reassuring and stable in a way older examples never were.

The Least Pleasant Surprise

It's virtually impossible to hit the EPA-estimated fuel economy figures without crawling away from every stoplight or being the slowest person on the freeway.

The Bottom Line

The Prius remains a great choice for saving fuel, but the rise of affordable all-electric vehicles like the new Chevrolet Bolt EV and plug-in hybrids, like the Chevrolet Volt, hurts the Toyota's appeal. You'll save gas with a Prius, but the competition makes it easier.