The Toyota Prius’s reputation is such that we’re surprised its name hasn’t become a generic term for gas-electric hybrid cars, the way some people describe any SUV as a “jeep.” Still, the Prius has become a well-known name in the two decades since its introduction.
Toyota rolled out the current, fourth generation Prius as a 2016 model, using a new platform that has since gone on to underpin most of the brand’s other models.
There’s also a plug-in hybrid (PHEV) version of the Prius called Prius Prime, which is covered in its own buyer’s guide entry.
What's New / Key Changes from Last Year
For 2019, Toyota gives the Prius a mid-cycle refresh that brings updated styling inside and out, and adds an all-wheel drive option for the first time in the model’s history. Dubbed AWD-e, the system uses electricity alone to power the rear wheels.
Trims start with base and Technology trims that can be had with either front- or all-wheel drive. Prius AWD-e Technology can be further optioned with an Advanced package.
Every Prius comes with automatic climate control, cloth upholstery, heated front seats, auto up/down power windows, a six-speaker stereo with 6.0-inch infotainment display, six-way driver and four-way front passenger seat adjustments, passive keyless entry and heated side mirrors. Active safety kit includes forward collision warning with pedestrian detection and automatic braking, automatic high beam headlights, radar cruise control and lane departure alert with steering assist.
AWD-e models add AWD (obviously) along with fog lights. The Prius AWD-e also trades the base model’s lithium-ion battery for a nickel-metal hydride battery.
The optional Technology Package (available on FWD and AWD-e models) adds a heated and synthetic leather-trimmed steering wheel, 7.0-inch infotainment display, navigation, satellite radio, Softex upholstery, eight-way power driver’s seat with lumbar, auto-dimming rearview mirror, wireless smartphone charging, blind spot monitoring with rear cross traffic alert, sunroof and rain-sensing wipers.
AWD-e models can be optioned with an Advanced Technology Package that brings a garage door opener, head-up display, adaptive and auto-levelling headlights and parking sensors with intelligent parking assist.
Toyota’s fuel consumption estimates for the Prius hybrid are 4.4/4.6 L/100 km (city/highway) with FWD and 4.5/4.9 with AWD.
The Prius is the benchmark car in the compact hybrid class, so the question is less about which cars it competes with, but the ones that fight for a piece of this segment.
Hyundai and Kia have the Ioniq Hybrid hatchback and Niro Hybrid wagon, and Honda makes the Insight, a compact sedan based on the Civic. For the moment, you can still get a Ford Fusion Hybrid, but not for long, as it has been discontinued.