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#12

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

Reviewers say the 2014 Toyota Prius offers outstanding fuel economy, but that it’s not much fun behind the wheel because of numb steering, squishy brakes and a floaty ride. They say that the transition between gas and electric power is very smooth, though some note that the gas engine is loud and unrefined.

  • "Moreover, the noises emitted by the Prius' small gasoline engine under hard acceleration are not what we'd describe as sonorous." -- Edmunds
  • "Both power sources can drive the vehicle, and they normally do so in a fluid dance where either can take the lead or both can work together. With varying degrees of pure-electric range plus the gas engine and regenerative braking charging a battery pack, the overall result is exceptional energy efficiency." -- Kelley Blue Book (2013)
  • "Standard Prius or Plug-in, initial full-throttle acceleration from a stop is mediocre at best, but the pace picks up quickly and increases steadily thereafter. What's most impressive, however, is its mid-speed throttle response. While it's not particularly strong, it is nearly instantaneous, as the electric motor and CVT negate the need for a conventional downshift." -- Consumer Guide (2012)
  • "Rotating that oval-shaped steering wheel is rewarded with an agonizingly slow return on one’s investment (this nearly got us into trouble on our first hot corner). The body wallows about its roll center much like before, conspiring with the squealing tires and aggressive stability-control system to mute out any shred of fun." -- Car and Driver (2010)

Acceleration and Power

The Prius has a 1.8-liter four-cylinder engine and an electric motor, which produce 134 horsepower combined. A continuously variable transmission (CVT) is standard. The 2014 Prius gets an EPA-estimated 51/48 mpg city/highway, which is excellent for a hybrid car.

Test drivers agree that the Toyota Prius isn’t particularly quick, but they still think it offers enough power to suit most drivers. Reviewers say that the transition between gas and electric power is quick and seamless, but a few critics note that the gas engine can sound noisy and unrefined.

  • "Acceleration in the 2014 Toyota Prius is far from sprightly, but it should be adequate for most buyers." -- Edmunds
  • "Due to the seamless transition between electric motor and gasoline engine, driving the 2013 Toyota Prius hybrid is a surprisingly drama-free event." -- Kelley Blue Book (2013)
  • "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 writers say the 2014 Toyota Prius is easy to drive and maneuver in tight spaces, but they note that the Prius isn’t particularly fun to drive. The steering doesn’t have much road feel, they say, adding that there’s too much body lean in turns and the handling feels floaty. Some critics say that the brake pedal feels numb. While this is a common complaint about hybrids, one reviewer says the Prius’ brake pedal is particularly bad.

  • "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.” -- Edmunds
  • "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: 5/15/14

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