Frenetic styling. The first-generation Prius was an exercise in bland, aerodynamic pod-like styling that served as this model’s calling card for all things hybrid efficiency. That styling convention largely held through the next two generations.

Starting in 2018 with the release of the fourth and current-generation model, Toyota overhauled the Prius, adding more styling and substance. But it is also a frenetic look with sharp lines, huge cutouts, and distinctive lighting elements dominating the exterior.

Inside, the space-age design goes in a different direction, but it is just as weird. The large vertical center console screen is the only thing that seems to fit here. The rest of the dashboard features a rounded expanse with plastic surfaces everywhere.

Anemic power meets efficiency. The Toyota Prius fulfills its mission as an efficient people mover flawlessly. With little effort, an average fuel economy of 50 mpg is not a problem. Keep your focus on achieving that goal and you won’t be disappointed.

But leisurely acceleration and unexciting handling are par for the course. The available AWD-e models offer some improvement with additional battery power to the rear wheels. This arrangement improves grip on slippery roads and makes a slight improvement in acceleration on dry surfaces. There is no benefit in clearance, however.

Stellar safety features. The Toyota Safety Sense 2.0 package is standard with the 2022 Prius. It offers a solid suite of driver-assist technologies, including more features than what some luxury models have. That’s been a Toyota staple for several years and is also something we can get behind.

Among the standard features are automatic emergency braking with pedestrian detection, adaptive cruise control, active lane control, and automatic high-beam headlamps. Parking sensors and blind-spot monitoring are on the options list.

Rear visibility is the one thing that keeps the Prius from excelling in our eyes. In particular, it is the narrow swath of rear window visibility that takes getting used to. Much reliance on the side mirrors and safety tech avoids potential problems, but it is a challenge for drivers nonetheless.

Features galore. The Prius L Eco has the lowest cost and is the most efficient of the lot. For just over $25,000, this one makes hybrid buying obtainable for the masses. Besides an impressive list of standard safety features, the L Eco comes with a 7-inch touch-screen display.

Bluetooth, three USB ports, Amazon Alexa, Apple CarPlay, and Android Auto are included. Among the upgrades are a heated steering wheel and heated front seats. You won’t find real hides with the Prius, but the available synthetic leather upholstery is a reasonable alternative.

Move past the LE trim to the XLE and Limited models, and all-wheel drive is a $1,000 option. We think it represents a worthwhile investment for a very reasonable cost.

Buyers can also opt for a Prius Prime plug-in hybrid. Besides upgraded tech and comfort amenities, this model comes with a $7,500 federal tax credit. Thus, opting for the Prius Prime may ultimately prove more cost-effective than purchasing a Prius Limited.

Final thoughts. The Toyota Prius is the world’s best-selling hybrid model. But it is far from Toyota’s only hybrid. These days, nearly every Toyota model has a hybrid option, including the similar-sized Corolla sedan. If the Prius’ looks are too polarizing, we think the Corolla Hybrid is the better choice. Either way, you get the stellar and unmatched Toyota Hybrid Synergy Drive system to supply the confidence and reliability you expect in a hybrid electric vehicle.

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