The 2020 Toyota Prius, America's favorite hybrid, is fresh off a 2019 facelift, so changes have been kept to a minimum. The two biggest updates are a newly available 7-inch touchscreen for the low-end trims and standard Amazon Alexa and Apple CarPlay compatibility across all trims. Safety Connect, Toyota's subscription-based cloud services program, has also been made standard on all trims and is free for one year.
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2020 Toyota Prius Overview
Choosing Your Toyota Prius
The Prius is offered in four trim levels: L Eco, LE, XLE, and Limited. Prices start at $25,155 including destination for the L Eco and climb to $33,330 for the Limited.
All Toyota Prius models use a gasoline 1.8-liter four-cylinder engine that's augmented by a pair of electric batteries. The system utilizes an electronically controlled continuouly variable transmission and is good for a combined 121 horsepower and 105 pound-feet of torque.
Front-wheel drive is standard on every trim, but the LE and XLE are also offered with all-wheel drive for $1,400 (LE) or $1,000 (XLE).
Fuel economy varies by trim. L Eco models stretch a gallon of fuel the farthest with their EPA-estimated 58 miles per gallon city, 53 mpg highway, and 56 combined. Other models achieve 54/50/52 mpg (city/highway/combined), or 52/48/50 mpg with AWD.
Hypermilers should stick with one of the front-wheel-drive models to avoid the fuel economy penalty that comes with sending power to all four wheels. Winter tires can mitigate the ill effects of snowy climes quite well, and any drop in fuel economy from the meatier rubber will only last a season, unlike the mileage penalty incurred with all-wheel drive.
Passenger and Cargo Capacity
The Prius is a five-seat hatchback. Due to the packaging of the hybrid batteries, rear leg room suffers, measuring in at just 33.4 inches – nearly an inch and a half shy of the similarly-sized Toyota Corolla, which rides on the same-length wheelbase as the Prius. Other compacts with comparable dimensions offer more rear leg room than the Prius as well.
Cargo room is another story. With a 60-40-split folding rear seat and a hatch rather than a trunk, the Prius can swallow up to 65.5 cubic feet worth of stuff. With the rear seats in place, FWD models can stash up to 27.4 cubic feet of goods, but that figure drops to 24.6 cubic feet with AWD.
The Prius, like most of Toyota's lineup, comes standard with the Toyota Safety Sense P suite of active safety features. It includes auto emergency braking, lane departure warning, automatic high beams, and adaptive cruise control.
Blind-spot monitoring and rear cross-traffic alert are standard on all trims but the L Eco, while the a head-up display is standard on the Limited and available on the XLE.
All Toyota Prius models but the Limited use a 7-inch color touchscreen to control multimedia affairs. The system boasts Bluetooth, voice recognition, wi-fi capability, and newly standard Amazon Alexa and Apple CarPlay. All trims get three USB ports, with one up front and two in the rear.
The XLE adds wireless charging to the list of standard equipment, but the Limited is a showcase for Toyota's razzle-dazzle technology. Besides its Tesla-like 11.6-inch touchscreen that dominates the center stack, it also boasts navigation and wireless charging.
Things open up with the L Eco trim. Standard equipment includes keyless entry, a six-way manually adjustable driver's seat, a four-way manually adjustable passenger's seat, a six-speaker audio system, and heated power mirrors. Body color trim and 15-inch alloy wheels adorn the exterior.
Compared to the L Eco, the Prius LE adds audible parking sensors, a cargo area tonneau cover, an intermittent rear windshield wiper, blind-spot monitoring, and rear cross-traffic alert.
The XLE begins to broach the realm of luxury with standard features that include automatic on/off headlights, 17-inch alloy wheels, rain-sensing windshield wipers, and a heated steering wheel. Leatherette upholstery, an eight-way power driver's seat, and push button start are also included.
For $515, the XLE can be equipped with a sunroof and 15-inch titanium-finished alloy wheels. A head-up display and adaptive headlights with auto-leveling are available for $800.
The flagship Prius is the Limited. Its most notable feature is the aforementioned 11.6 touchscreen that controls the standard navigation and 10-speaker JBL audio system. The head-up display and adaptive headlights are also included, as are heated front seats.
The moonroof and fancier wheels are still available for $515.
Our money is on the 2020 Toyota Prius XLE, as it offers plenty of features and still rings in under $30 grand. That its available all-wheel drive is $400 cheaper than it is on the LE is just icing on the cake.
2020 Toyota Prius Review
Unlike other websites and magazines, our ratings are not based solely on a singular road test, but rather a more encompassing batch of criteria: quality, safety, comfort, performance, fuel economy, reliability history and value. When comparing vehicles using our Rating System, it's important to note that the rating earned by each vehicle correlates only to the models within its class. For example, a compact car cannot be compared to a SUV—They are different vehicles altogether.
You can interpret our ratings in the following way:
5-Star: Outstanding vehicle. Only the most exceptional vehicles achieve this rating.
4-Star: Very Good vehicle. Very good and close to being the best vehicle in its class.
3-Star: Good vehicle. Decent, but not quite the best. Often affordable, but lacking key features found in vehicles of the same class.
2-Star: Below average vehicle. Not recommended, and lacking attributes a car buyer would come to expect for the price.
1-Star: Poor vehicle. Simply does not deserve to be on the road.
- Optional all-wheel drive
- Priced competitively
- Improved infotainment system
- Excellent fuel economy
- Interesting design
- Where’s the performance?
- Tight rear head room
Impressive fuel economy. One of the main reasons for even considering the 2020 Toyota Prius is because of fuel economy. While not the most efficient hybrid on the road – that title belongs to the Hyundai Ioniq – the Prius is in second place.
The EPA rates the Prius Eco at 58 miles per gallon city, 53 mpg highway, and 56 combined. For comparison, the class-leading Ioniq Blue is rated at 57/59/58 mpg (city/highway/combined).
Opt for the regular Prius and you’re still looking at 54/50/52 mpg, while even all-wheel-drive models get 52/48/50 mpg.
Loaded with safety features. Every Prius comes with Toyota Safety Sense P as standard. The suite brings forward collision warning, automatic emergency braking, pedestrian detection, lane departure warning, lane keeping assist, automatic high beams, and adaptive cruise control. That’s a strong list of features for a vehicle that starts at $25,155.
Available features include parking sensors, a head-up display, blind-spot monitoring, and rear cross-traffic alert.
More capable than other hybrids. In addition to having all-wheel drive, which no other hybrid in its class has, the Prius has one of the largest cargo holds for a hybrid. Behind the rear seats, the hatchback has either 24.6 or 27.4 cubic feet of space, depending on the trim. In total, there’s 62.7 cubic feet of space.
The Prius has a lot more cargo space than the Hyundai Ioniq and Honda Insight, two of its biggest rivals. The Prius’ total cargo capacity even matches some small crossovers.
With all-wheel drive and a spacious cargo area, the Prius has almost become the anti-hybrid with its capability.
One too many curves. While other automakers have come out with hybrids that look more along the lines of a regular car, the Prius continues to be radically styled. An angular nose, dramatic lines, and an awkward rear end all make the Prius stand out – in a bad way.
The interior’s not nearly as bad, but Toyota has made it an important point to ensure that the Prius looks different from hybrids. Don’t look for a traditional instrument cluster or easy sight lines out of the vehicle. Everything’s located centrally on the dashboard, which takes some time to get used to. But the sloping roofline and hefty rear C-pillars result in a constricted view out of the back of the vehicle.
Final thoughts. The 2020 Toyota Prius doesn’t raise the bar like the original hybrid did, but it’s still a great option. Offering all-wheel drive and one of the more spacious cabins in the segment, the Prius goes beyond being efficient. Now that it comes with Apple CarPlay as standard, the Prius’ exterior design is its only major downside.
The Prius may be a good option for consumers seeking fuel economy, but it doesn’t exactly excite in the way it drives or looks. We can understand the lack of sportiness, but the Prius could benefit greatly from a new design.
Other automakers have caught up in terms of efficiency and some are much cheaper. The Hyundai Ioniq Blue is more efficient and roughly $2,000 cheaper. The Honda Insight isn’t as efficient, but is approximately $1,300 cheaper. It’s much more enjoyable to drive, though, and it looks like a normal car.
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