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#13

in Affordable Midsize Cars

MSRP: $24,200 - $30,005
Invoice: $22,748 - $27,930
MPG: 51 City / 48 Hwy
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Toyota Prius Performance

The automotive press agrees the 2015 Toyota Prius has impressive fuel economy, but not impressive performance. Critics agree that if excellent fuel economy is a must-have, the mundane driving experience is worth it. Most test drivers think the Prius is sluggish, though some report it has enough power once it gets up to speed. Reviewers dislike the Prius’ soft suspension, loud ride, numb steering and spongy brakes.

  • "And although a fun driving experience probably isn't at the top of your list if you're interested in a Prius, know that acceleration is slow and even with the sport-tuned suspension the Prius isn't as entertaining to drive as some rivals." -- Edmunds
  • "While the Prius may get the best fuel economy, it's not much fun to drive." -- Kelley Blue Book
  • "Toyota says that the new Prius is more fun and sportier. And no, I don't know what they are smoking. The car feels like the same humble, humming people pod, only lacquered with a bit more confidence and esprit." -- The Los Angeles Times (2010)
  • "Eco mode, which smoothes out throttle inputs, feels as exciting as you’d expect it to be. Ever used Anbesol for a toothache? You get it. You’ll also get, however, easy access to 50-plus mpg." -- Car and Driver (2010)
  • "The Prius has not been transformed into a sport sedan, but it's no longer a penalty box to drive." -- Automobile Magazine (2010)

Acceleration and Power

A 1.8-liter four-cylinder engine and electric motor produce a combined output of 134 horsepower in the Toyota Prius, and they’re mated to a continuously variable transmission (CVT). The EPA estimates the 2015 Prius will get 51/48 mpg city/highway, which is outstanding for the class.

Most test drivers think the Prius is sluggish, noting that it hesitates from a stop and struggles during hard acceleration. However, some find it has adequate power once it gets up to speed.

  • "Acceleration is leisurely at best, and an Eco mode even dials it down from there by reducing throttle input and even shutting off the air conditioning at stoplights to help save more fuel." -- Kelley Blue Book
  • "Acceleration in the Toyota Prius is far from sprightly, but it should be adequate for most buyers. … Moreover, the noises emitted by the Prius' small gasoline engine under hard acceleration are not what we'd describe as sonorous." -- Edmunds
  • "Kind of slow from a stop, but as the motors spool up, the Prius moves with steady abandon. Its best attribute is mid-speed throttle response. Again, it's not quick, but power comes on immediately thanks to the assistance of the electric motor." -- Consumer Guide (2013)
  • "I'm less enthused, though, about how the power is delivered compared with a conventional car or a pure EV - which is to say that it happens with some hesitation and surging, often accompanied by the gas engine revving or droning at seemingly inappropriate times." -- Cars.com (2011)

Handling and Braking

Auto critics agree that the Toyota Prius is boring to drive, with a soft suspension that gives it too much body lean in turns. Some note that on the highway, it has a firm, loud ride, and they say you can feel too many bumps in the road. Although test drivers think the Prius’ steering is numb, some say it makes the Prius easy to drive in parking lots. Some reviewers report that the 2015 Prius’ regenerative brakes are awful because the pedal feels numb.

  • "Around town, the Prius is an easy-to-drive runabout. The steering doesn't provide much feedback, but it makes the car effortless to maneuver in parking lots without feeling overly light at highway speeds. The ride is generally comfortable, but nastier bumps can upset the suspension and disturb the car's occupants." -- Edmunds
  • "Handling is best described as ‘safe,’ and braking and steering are both fine, if unexciting. On the highway, the Prius' stiff and noisy ride can wear on you quickly." -- Kelley Blue Book
  • "Prius is a cruiser, not a handler. Fluffy suspension tuning and skinny, low-rolling-resistance tires result in lots of body lean in even moderate-speed turns." -- Consumer Guide (2013)
  • "The pedal feels unnatural, and the transition from regenerative to friction braking can be awkward. All hybrids and EVs exhibit this drawback, but I think the Prius is among the worst." -- Cars.com (2011)
  • "Unfortunately, the wobbly handling is still in full force with the new Prius. It makes no claims to sporting performance." -- CNET (2010)
Review Last Updated: 11/6/14

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