2013 Toyota Prius Three 4-dr Hatchback (1.8L 4-cyl. Hybrid CVT Automatic)
Driven On 10/2/2012
This rating has been carried forward from a prior year because the newer model has no substantial differences.
We're giving extra weight to the value part of the equation here, because 50 mpg and this much space and utility cannot be ignored. Sure, it's not well-suited for back road hooliganism, but that was never its mission. The Prius defines what the hybrid segment is all about.
PerformancePredictable and reassuring, but not exactly sporty. Still, there's more to like here than you'd expect for something that can roll along at 50 mpg.
Despite expectations, the Prius has enough power to comfortably merge onto the freeway and climb grades. Its 10.1-second run to 60 mph isn't going to win it any speed trophies, but that's not the point.
Our 60-mph panic stop took just 124 feet, a decent result on skinny low-rolling resistance tires. The pedal is mostly firm, but can feel weird at times because of the behind-the-scenes blending of magnetic and mechanical braking.
Steering effort is appropriate for this sort of family car and it responds smartly enough. But the feeling is somewhat muted and inauthentic. Tires like to follow seams and rain grooves.
The Prius is a little less sprightly than the shorter Prius C, and its fuel-saving low rolling resistance tires don't offer tons of ultimate grip. Still, it is maneuverable and coordinated.
Toyota's hybrids are built around a stepless continuously variable transmission that's butter smooth. It sometimes doesn't sound that way as the motor cycles on and off, though.
ComfortThe Prius is generally comfortable in most situtations, but sometimes the reality of its light weight and fuel-saving tires comes through.
The Prius front and rear seats are soft and supportive, though the front seats may not adjust down far enough to find the perfect driving position relative to the pedals and steering wheel.
Generally smooth in most situations, but the high-pressure tires do make it feel up on tiptoes sometimes.
At or slightly above the class average in terms of wind noise. Reasonable road noise. Engine mostly quiet but certain hybrid system whirring, whining and clicking noises emerge at odd intervals.
InteriorAside from the odd shifter and gauges, the interior of the Prius is functional and spacious enough that it could easily be your only car.
The shifter and park button are unnecessarily odd and the central gauges take getting used to. But it does become familiar soon enough. Other controls are easy and the steering wheel buttons work well.
The front doors open wide and there are no obstructions. Exceedingly high roofline. The story is much the same in the back.
Plenty of front seat headroom and legroom for tall folks, and the steering wheel tilts and telescopes. Rear-seat space is generous too, particularly legroom. It's clear why these make good eco-taxis.
Slender pillars and lots of glass add up to good forward and rear side visibility. The rear view is enhanced by the vertical glass panel in the hatch. Our back-up camera was pure gravy.
The characteristic Prius shape is what makes it so useful here. There's plenty of space under the hatch and it's downright cavernous with the rear seats folded. Decent interior storage up front.
ValueThe Prius offers amazing MPG and reliability, and can be equipped in a variety of ways to suit different budgets and preferences.
Build Quality (vs. $)
Hybrids are more expensive than their conventional counterparts, but Toyota hasn't scrimped to offset the hybrid premium. That said, some interior materials could be more premium-looking.
Our mid-level Prius Three comes with navigation, a telescopic wheel, automatic climate control and power seats. At the highest levels you can get a heads-up display and adaptive cruise control, but that starts to get pricey.
The price of a Prius has come down low enough that it can offset its higher hybrid price in a couple of years. Five available trim levels offer different equipment but share the fuel economy.
It doesn't get any better than this. Its 50 mpg Combined rating (51 City/48 Highway) is the best, bar none, for a gasoline-powered car that doesn't have a plug-in system.
The powertrain is covered for 5 years/60,000 miles and the hybrid components and battery are covered for 8 years/100,000 miles. But it would be nice if Toyota's basic warranty were better than 3 years/36,000 miles.
Fuel costs are nil, and oil changes and tire rotations are covered by Toyota for the first 2 years. The engine has no belts to change, brake pads should last years; there's little to go wrong.
Fun To DriveFun isn't really the right word unless you get jazzed about driving past gas pumps. Perhaps satisfying is a better word. And the interactive driver feedback can turn fuel saving into a game, if you're inclined to play along.
This isn't really a driver's car unless saving fuel and bragging about mpg is your thing. To that end the Prius has engaging driver feedback that turns saving fuel into a game.
Like it or not, the Prius has a clearly-defined and strong personality. It's pretty much a brand unto itself. It makes a statement, even if only half the electorate agrees with it.
† Edmunds.com received the highest numerical score in the proprietary J.D. Power 2014 Third-Party Automotive Website Evaluation Study℠. Results based on responses from 3,381 responses, measuring 14 companies and measures third-party automotive website usefulness among new and used vehicle shoppers. Proprietary study results are based on experiences and perceptions of owners surveyed from January 2014. Your experiences may vary. Visit jdpower.com.