2004 Toyota Prius Hatchback Review | Edmunds.com

2004 Toyota Prius Hatchback

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Certified Pre-Owned (CPO) is a category of used car. Often late-model vehicles, they have been inspected, refurbished, if necessary, and are under warranty by the manufacturer.
Toyota Prius Features and Specs

Features & Specs

  • Engine 1.5 L Inline 4-cylinder
  • Drivetrain Front Wheel Drive
  • Transmission CVT Automatic
  • Horse Power 110 hp @ 5000 rpm
  • Fuel Economy 48/45 mpg
  • Bluetooth No
  • Navigation No
  • Heated Seats No

Review of the 2004 Toyota Prius

  • The 2004 Toyota Prius is a full-featured midsize family sedan that just happens to be the most fuel-efficient and earth-friendly sedan on the market as well. The fact that it starts at just $20K makes it all the more attractive.

  • Safety
  • Pros

    Outstanding mileage, ultralow emissions, hatchback utility, reasonable price, excellent build quality.

  • Cons

    Less power and room than other midsize sedans, center-mounted gauges not intuitive.

  • What's New for 2004

    The 2004 Toyota Prius is completely redesigned with a larger overall size, more power, better mileage and even more available features.

Full 2004 Toyota Prius Review

What's New for 2004

The 2004 Toyota Prius is completely redesigned with a larger overall size, more power, better mileage and even more available features.


The Prius wasn't the first hybrid car on the market, but with four doors, a sizable trunk and room for four, it was the first such vehicle to offer the practicality of a typical economy car along with the outstanding fuel mileage of a hybrid. The second-generation model delivers all that and more, with an even larger interior, hatchback utility, new interior features and a hybrid drivetrain that's more powerful and cleaner than the previous version. For the uninitiated, a hybrid drivetrain uses a small gasoline engine in conjunction with an electric motor to provide power while keeping emissions and fuel usage to a minimum. Under full acceleration, both motors work together to provide maximum power, but under lighter load conditions, such as stop-and-go traffic, the Prius alternates between the two, oftentimes running purely on battery power alone. A regenerative braking system converts energy normally lost as heat into electricity to charge the car's batteries, so the Prius never has to be plugged in. A dashboard monitor allows you to see which engine is doing the work, and how much energy is being used at any given time, among other things. Toyota calls the Prius' latest drivetrain a Hybrid Synergy Drive. Although it works in much the same way as the first-generation model, it delivers considerably more power with fewer emissions. Toyota claims that its exhaust emissions have been reduced by 30 percent over the previous model, allowing it to earn both SULEV (Super Ultra Low-Emission Vehicle) and PZEV (Partial Zero Emissions Vehicle) ratings. With a combined city/highway rating of 55 miles to the gallon, the 2004 Toyota Prius is the most economical midsize sedan on the road. Despite its miserly fuel ratings, the Prius can still accelerate to 60 mph in a respectable 10 seconds. Apart from its high-tech drivetrain, the Prius offers comfortable accommodations for four adults. It's a little smaller than most midsize sedans, but even taller passengers have enough room in the rear seats. Improved interior materials and a unique design give the cabin an alternative look and feel, but all the features you would expect are there. Newly available options include a keyless ignition system, a DVD-based navigation system and xenon headlights. Its hatchback design makes loading larger items into the cargo a snap, and with 16.1 cubic feet of space, there's nearly as much room in the trunk as in a Camry. Unlike the original version that was more science experiment than economy car, the all-new Prius is a legitimate family sedan that offers everything you would expect -- like solid build quality and refinement -- and a few things you don't -- like a base price of just $20,000. Add in the eye-popping mileage and long list of standard features, and it's easy to see why the 2004 Toyota Prius will be one of the most talked about cars of the year.

Body Styles, Trim Levels, and Options

The 2004 Toyota Prius is available as a four-door hatchback only. There is only one well-appointed trim level, but several new options are available. The standard features list includes power windows, locks and mirrors; air conditioning; a tilt steering wheel with satellite audio and climate controls; a six-speaker CD stereo; cruise control; trip computer; and 15-inch aluminum wheels. Options like a DVD-based navigation system, Bluetooth hands-free phone technology, keyless entry and ignition and a JBL premium audio system with a six-disc CD changer are also available, along with an auto-dimming mirror, rear wiper and xenon headlights.

Powertrains and Performance

There is only one engine and transmission combination available. The Hybrid Synergy Drive power plant consists of a 1.5-liter gasoline engine and a single electric drive motor. The gas engine produces 76 horsepower and 82 pound-feet of torque while the electric motor generates the equivalent of 67 hp and 295 lb-ft of torque. An electronically controlled continuously variable transmission is standard on all models. Toyota claims a 0-to-60 time of 10 seconds and mileage ratings of 60 city/50 highway due to the car's improved efficiency during low-speed operation.


All models come standard with four-wheel antilock brakes, multistage driver and front passenger airbags and traction control. Electronic stability control and side-impact/side-curtain airbags are optional.

Interior Design and Special Features

Many of the design cues found in the original Prius have been carried over, but the overall look is more upscale than before. Materials quality has been improved and the addition of metallic accents on the vents, center console and doors brightens things up a little. The gauge cluster is still positioned toward the center of the dashboard, but the display is now larger for easier viewing. The optional DVD navigation system is not only Toyota's most comprehensive system ever, it can be voice operated as well. Another option, the Smart Entry and Start system, unlocks the car when it senses the transmitter in your pocket. Once inside, you merely press the start button and you're off.

Driving Impressions

As you might expect, the 2004 Toyota Prius is no speed demon, but when it comes to the kind of daily driving that most drivers encounter, there's more than enough power to get around. The continuously variable transmission (CVT) takes some getting used to since it doesn't use traditional gears, but it does make the best use of the hybrid drivetrain's power. Cabin noise is minimal and the suspension is comfortably soft without feeling too floaty. The lightweight body doesn't feel as rock solid as a Camry, and the driving position can be a bit awkward for some, but the overall comfort level is comparable to most other sedans in its class.

Read our Toyota Prius Long-Term 85,000-Mile Test

What Others Are Saying

Customer Reviews

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

Domino's prius update!

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Vehicle: 2004 Toyota Prius 4dr Hatchback (1.5L 4cyl CVT)

Wrote a review about my Dominos' store's Prius'! Updating it! We now have 3 Prius's! Two '04's and an '05! The one I wrote about before is an '04 which now has 220k mi on it and still no problems! It never breaks down or gives up! And it gets driven HARD by many different drivers! The battery still holds charge pretty well, not quite as well as our other Prius's but still returns over 50mpg if driven frugally. Our other 04' Prius has 160k mi and runs great! Same with our '05 that has 120k mi! These vehicles are workhorses! You want a reliable, affordable commuter or work car! This is the one! If it can deliver pizzas, it can do anything!

3 of 3 people found this review helpful

Domino's prius

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Vehicle: 2004 Toyota Prius 4dr Hatchback (1.5L 4cyl CVT)

I work for my local Domino's Pizza store. It's one of the bigger stores in my area, covering a HUGE area for delivery. My boss has two Prius's as company cars that us drivers get to drive (as well as other vehicles as well). The main Prius we use has been at this store for 3 years now. It's an 04 and was bought with 90K miles on it. It is used all day long every from opening to closing of the store. It now has 186K miles after 3 years of service. There has no been one single problem with it! It is always taken to the dealership for regular maintenance when it is needed. We drivers average about 44-48 MPG when we can. During dinner rush's we can pull around 38 MPG! These things are troopers!

A car with life time

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Vehicle: 2004 Toyota Prius 4dr Hatchback (1.5L 4cyl CVT)

Just bought @104K for $8K, like new condition. Not a comfortable car like my 98' Lexus LS400, but I understand the compromise in order to achieve optimal MPG: stiff suspension, low roll resistance tire. My goal is to save money with 50+ MPG for 130 mile daily commute. I can't justify buying a new one for 3.5X price to save ONLY $1800/year on gas at $3/gallon. Performance better than I expected. Technology is truly impressive I am confident to drive it for another 5 years to 300K miles, if the battery OK. Heard many Prius at 200K miles, battery still fine.

Fun car, looking forward to

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Vehicle: 2004 Toyota Prius 4dr Hatchback (1.5L 4cyl CVT)

After more than six months, the only problem I've had with my 2004 Prius is a dead battery. I've averaged about 52 mpg when I wasn't deliberately driving economically. As a former leadfoot Corvette owner, it took me a while to learn to get 70 mpg or even 99+ mpg, but I did accomplish this using techniques I read in the manual and online. With a car full of husky adults, patience is required for economical acceleration and hill-climbing. The typical American driver will push the pedal for more power, but the electric will kick in and save on gas. I recommend cruise control and some patience to get 50-60 mpg on that long hilly highway trip.


by on
Vehicle: 2004 Toyota Prius 4dr Hatchback (1.5L 4cyl CVT)

I owned this car for three and a half years, used about 60,000 miles and it was awesome until it rained, snowed or was windy at all. I felt completely unsafe, and scared during any storm or driving on snow. The seats were decently sized, but hard as rocks. The gas mileage was the reason I bought it, and that stayed true to what was said about how great it was. I ended up buying a Honda SUV because this car scared me so much to drive even on a sunny day with lots of wind. I now feel so much safer, and would never purchase another small Toyota again.

117000 miles on my prius

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Vehicle: 2004 Toyota Prius 4dr Hatchback (1.5L 4cyl CVT)

I have an 04 Prius with 117000 miles on it. In the earlier years I had all the problems with the car stalling or not wanting to keep going, but Toyota finally resolved those issues with software upgrades and recalls. For the past 3 years I've had no problems. At 112000 miles I needed a new water pump, but otherwise I've had no mechanical issues. The battery is fine. I drive exclusively on local roads, 40 miles each way to work, and get 48 mpg during the winter (New Hampshire winters are brutal) and am now getting 57 mpg in the Springtime. The car gets significantly less gas mileage if I only use it for short hops (5-10 miles) or if I drive on the highway.

Talk About The 2004 Prius

2004 Toyota Prius Discussions See all Started By

Impressed by the increased fuel mileage, wagon body, roominess, and even lower emissions. However I can't stand the styling of the concept and hope it significantly changes. This new Prius will leave ...

Please share your recent Prius purchase price and experience....

Hello from tmsusa. Today we provided information to our dealers and the NHTSA about a voluntary special service campaign Toyota will conduct for certain 2004 through early 2006 MY Prius involving the...

Read more about the 2004 Toyota Prius

Gas Mileage


  • 48
  • cty
  • 45
  • highway
Calculate Yearly Fuel Costs
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